If you’re looking on a map for Hadrian’s Mausoleum then you may well not locate it as its name, purpose, shape and context has changed radically over the past 1900 years. Today it is more commonly known as the Castel Sant’Angelo however the core of this building was originally constructed as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian and his family. The building was later used by popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum with pleasant cafés and impressive panoramic views of Rome that take in the Tiber river and the Vatican.
It was common for mausoleums to be home for the ashes of many family members and Hadrian needed to build his own in part because the nearby mausoleum of Augustus was already full.
In a show of feigned modesty, Hadrian was careful to commission a building that did not exceed the diameter of Augustus’ however it was quite significantly taller.
Looking today at the Castle Sant’Angelo we see a structure dominated by defensive walls, corner tower fortifications and religious statues that were all built and repeatedly updated over the past 600 years. That said, there are echoes of the original mausoleum design in what we see.
This episode explains the history and original design of Hadrian's Mausoleum.