The Tomb of Hadrian was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 135 and 139. Originally, the mausoleum was a decorated cylinder, with a garden top and the golden quadriga of the emperor. Hadrian's ashes were placed here a year after his death in Baiae in 138, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217. The urns containing these ashes were probably placed in what is now known as the Treasury room deep within the building. Hadrian also built the Ponte Sant'Angelo facing straight onto the mausoleum - it still provides a scenic approach from the center of Rome and the right bank of the Tiber, and is renowned for its statuary of angels holding aloft elements of the Passion of Christ added during its Baroque rebuild.
Much of the tomb contents and decoration has been lost since the building's conversion into a military fortress in 401 and inclusion by Flavius Augustus Honorius in the Aurelian Walls.
The popes converted the structure into a castle, from the 14th century; The fortress was the refuge of the Pope The Papal state also used Sant'Angelo as a prison;
A bronze statue of Saint Michael, executed by the Flemish sculptor Peter van Verschaeffelt in 1752, surmounts the tomb and portrays the archangel sheathing a sword. Legend holds that an angel appeared atop the mausoleum, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590, thus lending the castle its present name.
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