Tomb of Hadrian

3d model and reconstruction

Tomb of Hadrian

The transformation into a castle – named Sant’Angelo after the bronze statue placed as coronation of the fortress in 1752 – has allowed for preservation of this monument, in spite of the radical changes over the century because it was used for various purposes.

Many artists and scholars found the building particularly interesting and, starting from the 15th century, drawings and hypothetical reconstructions of the original mausoleum have been produced.

Recent new studies, leading to an exhibition held inside Castel Sant’Angelo itself, include a collection and analysis of the whole existing documentation about this monument, including archaeological materials related to it, which have been found over the years.

More specifically, a reconstruction hypothesis is made here with regard to the base decoration, consisting of pilasters with Corinthian capitals, a frieze with bull protomes and wreaths surmounted by paterae and a cornice with lion’s head drip moldings. Moreover three heads of colossal marble statues have been attributed to the coronation of the attic, now in the ambulatory of Boniface IX of the fortress, one of which has been identified as Antinoo, Hadrian’s young favorite.

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Short history of

Tomb of Hadrian

Hadrian’s tomb, on the right bank of the Tiber and in direct communication with the Campus Martius and the Tomb of Augustus by way of the Elio Bridge, was built in the Gardens of Domitia in the Vatican to contain the remains of Hadrian and of all the descendants of the dynasty of the Antonines.

Later the building was incorporated, probably under Honorius in 403 AD, as a bastion in the Aurelian walls and was subsequently inserted in the Castel Sant’Angelo in the Middle Ages.

Its construction, probably begun around 130 AD, was not completed until 139, after the death of Hadrian in Baia. It is composed of a square base in brick supporting a circular complex (64 meters in diameter), the real mausoleum. The interior is characterized by a vestibule with a niche which probably held a statue of Hadrian, which was the starting point of a helicoidal gallery leading to the burial room set up in the center of the monument.