<p>(by Fred Romero, CC BY 2.0, Flickr)</p>
  • Europe /
  • Italy /
  • Rome

The Borgias, a family of Spanish origin, dominated the Italian scene at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries CE.

The castle
Heritage place of interest.
Heritage place of interest.
Heritage place of interest.
Borgia Coat of Arms - particular detail is the bull, symbol of the family.
The passage - Passetto di Borgo - connecting the castle from the Vatican (Rabax63, CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)
Heritage place of interest.
Heritage place of interest.
Passetto di Borgo (Mister, CC BY 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

To reach the next destination (Castel Sant’Angelo), it is necessary to cross the famous Tiber river, dominated by the characteristic Bridge of Angels. It is undoubtedly a scenic and peculiar view with St Peter and St Paul at the head of the bridge, followed by the five pairs of angels showing passers-by the instruments of Christ’s Passion.

Once over the bridge, it is possible to enter Castel Sant’Angelo, a papal fortification, where visitors can admire the rich museum. On the south façade of the cylinder of the Mole, you can see the coat of arms bearing the symbol of the Borgias, erected under the pontificate of Alexander VI. 


Furthermore, on the western side of the castle, there is a unique elevated passageway explicitly built for the safety and indemnity of the Pontiff, called the Passetto di Borgo, which connects the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo. In 1492 CE, Alexander VI Borgia also had two towers with merlons built near Porta San Pellegrino to protect the Vatican on the other end of this passage, right on the Vatican’s borders.

The passage was used by Pope Alexander VI Borgia himself to escape the French king Charles VIII’s attack and get to safety in the papal fortress. Castel Sant’Angelo was not only a place of military refuge for the cardinals and Pope Alexander VI but also a home with a “broader” significance.


After rumours and criticism due to a blatant opulence and lust in strong contrast to ecclesiastical canons, the latter moved their residences from the Vatican to the castle’s interior so as to be far away and protected from gossip and indiscrete eyes. So behind these high walls, the highest members of the papal statute could freely lead a mundane lifestyle of banquets and private parties. As evidence of such extravagance and eroticism, it is interesting to see frescoes and provocative depictions alongside religious symbols of purity and innocence that enliven and embellish the rooms of the residence.

A provocative theme that nevertheless remains in line with the heart of the Renaissance, a truly sparkling and fiery period.


1. The tower

2. A dreadful alley

3. The murder

4. The tavern

5. The castle

6. The Vatican