Angels and Demons Top Sites in Rome and the Vatican
Where to See Places Featured in the Book and Movie Angels and Demons
By Martha Bakerjian, About.com Guide
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Angels and Demons, the movie based on the book by Dan Brown, is set in Rome and the Vatican. Here are top places you'll see in the movie. You can visit these places yourself next time you're in Rome.
Vatican City is a tiny sovereign independent state and home to the Pope. Saint Peter's Basilica, one of the world's largest churches, and the huge Saint Peter's Square dominate the Vatican and figure prominently in the movie. Entrance to Saint Peter's Basilica is free but to visit the Vatican excavations, the necropolis beneath Saint Peter's Basilica where part of the movie takes place, you'll have to reserve ahead for a guided visit (see link below).
Castel Sant' Angelo, built as a tomb for Emperor Hadrian in the second century, was used as a fortress until it became a papal residence in the 14th century. A secret passageway, the Passetto, connects it to the Vatican. In the movie this is a secret ancient Illuminati spot used toward the end of the story. Today Castel Sant' Angelo hosts summer concerts. The Passetto, prison, and private rooms of Clement VII can be visited as of summer, 2010 (information).
Piazza Navona is a lively square ringed with high end cafes and Baroque palaces. The stars of the oval-shaped piazza are three lavish Baroque fountains. The central fountain, Fountain of the Rivers or Fontana Dei Fiumi, represents Water on the Path of the Illumination in the story. Created by Bernini in the 1650's the fountain portrays four rivers - the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile, and the Rio de la Plata.
Santa Maria del Popolo and Piazza del Popolo
Santa Maria del Popolo, in Piazza del Popolo, was one of the first Renaissance churches in Rome. In the Chigi Chapel, created by Raphael, are ceiling mosaics and pyramid-like tombs as well as statues by Bernini. The Chigi Chapel represents Earth on the Path of Illumination in the movie and book.
Santa Maria della Vittoria
Santa Maria della Vittoria is a Baroque church on Via XX Settembre. The church holds the famous Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini that represents Fire on the Path of Illumination.
Rome's Pantheon, the ancient temple of all the gods, was built between AD 118-125 by Emperor Hadrian. Its dome was the largest dome ever until Brunelleschi's dome at the Florence Cathedral was built in 1420-36. In the 7th century it was made into a church by early Christians but it's still the best preserved building of ancient Rome. Today is surrounded by a pleasant and lively piazza, a nice place to sit in the evening and enjoy a drink. Admission to the Pantheon is free.
The Sistine Chapel, built from 1473-1481, is both the Pope's private chapel and the venue for the election of the new pope by the cardinals. Michelangelo painted the famous ceiling frescoes, with the central scenes depicting creation and the story of Noah. He also decorated the altar wall with the Last Judgment and there are works by several other famous artists. The chapel can be visited with the Vatican Museums. To enjoy the Sistine Chapel without the crowds, consider this Sistine Chapel Private After-Hours Visit, offered by Select Italy.
Caserta Royal Palace
Caserta Royal Palace was the set for filming many of the Angels and Demons scenes that take place in Vatican City, since filming in Vatican City was forbidden. Caserta Royal Palace or Reggia di Caserta, northeast of Naples, is an extravagant 18th century Bourbon palace that's often used as a movie set. You might recognize the palace from other movies including Star Wars Episode I and II and Mission Impossible III where it substituted for Vatican City.
Caserta Palace Pictures on Europe Travel.
Select Italy offers a half-day tour of Angels and Demons sites in Rome and Vatican City. You'll travel in a private car accompanied by an art historian as you visit these sites and hear more about them.