The Ponte Sant’Angelo, built in 134AD, was once named Pons Aelius meaning the bridge of Hadrian. The bridge was built on the orders of the Roman Emperor Hadrian to cross the River Tiber and lead to his Mausoleum, now the Castel Sant’Angelo. The bridge is faced with travertine marble and spans the Tiber with three arches. It was also much used by pilgrims on their way to St Peter’s Basilica. It was in the 7th century, under Pope Gregory I, that the bridge and the castle obtained their present title of Sant’Angelo. Legend has it that there was a plague in Rome and an angel appeared on the roof of the castle to announce the end of the plague. Statues of St Peter and St Paul on the bridge were joined by statues of the four evangelists and later further biblical figures were also added. In 1669 Pope Clement commissioned Bernini to produce ten statues of angels to replace the ageing statues. Bernini only finished two before his death, these were kept by the pope himself for his own pleasure and Bernini’s pupils completed the remaining statues.
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