A Self-Guided Angels and Demons Tour — Photo courtesy of beggsRome is a truly a magical city that offers a little bit of everything for all walks of life. Thanks to Dan Brown's best seller book, Angels and Demons and its Hollywood blockbuster movie, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the Eternal City every year, in search of uncovering the treasures of Rome just as they did in the pages of this great contemporary novel. If you don't get the chance to latch onto one of the many 'theme' tours around Rome, read on for more details on a self-guided version of the Angels and Demons tour touching on some of the sights that you can do on your own time.
Sights in Angels and Demons
The New York Times best seller, takes readers behind the scenes of some of the most prestigious piazzas and majestic monuments frequented by one of the most prominent secret societies of the 1600s, the Illuminati. In the novel, the noted artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the controversial scientist Gallileo Gallilei leaves behind a trail of clues, symbols and enigmas that lead the secret society to the cherished Holy Grail. In order to relive the pages inside Brown's novel, the sights you'll need to visit are Santa Maria del Popolo Church, St. Peter's Square, Santa Maria della Vittoria Church, Piazza Navona, Castel Sant'Angelo, and the famoso 'Il Passetto'.
Castel Sant'Angelo and Il Passetto
Its dominant presence over the Tiber River, it's hard not to take in the beauty of the immense Castel Sant'Angelo. Its orginal purpose was to serve as a mausoleum for the great emperor Hadrian. The grandiose castle was later transformed in the 6th century into a mysterious papal fortress. Its secret passage ways including the famous 'Il Passetto' can be seen from parts of Castel Sant'Angelo and throughout Vatican City. was a major focal point in the blockbuster film because it was used to usher out popes fleeing from danger to a safe, hiding place inside the Vatican walls.
Santa Maria della Vittoria Church
Another sight in the novel and movie that often gets overlooked by the average tourist is the Santa Maria della Vittoria Church. From its exterior, it looks like your average run-of-the-mill Baroque-style church (and there are many) in Rome. However, it's only once you step inside that you can appreciate its true beauty: Bernini's sculpture, the Ecstasy of St. Teresa. The statue portrays a vision that St. Teresa once had of an angel that pierced her heart with a golden shaft which inflicted her with both immense joy and pain. The novel and movie place this church near Piazza Barberini. However its actual location is on Via XX Settembre on the other side of Termini train station.
St. Peter's Square, a Sight Featured Prominently in Angels and Demons — Photo courtesy of MargaretNapierSt. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica
Then of course, a sight on virtually everyone's list that comes to Rome whether you're a fanatic of the Dan Brown, religious or not is St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica. Coming to Rome and not visiting either is well, just sinful. The basilica is considered the mother of all churches and is one of the largest churches within the Christian religion and is the very place where the Pope gives his weekly mass and papal blessings on Wednesdays and Sundays. What made the basilica so famous in the Angels and Demons movie, were the tombs where St. Peter and other popes are buried underneath the main altar of the church. If you wish to check them out, you'll have to plan in advance though. Only roughly 150 are admitted to the secret tombs per day. Meanwhile the Piazza di San Pietro (St. Peter's Square) is figured prominently in the movie thanks to the Egytian obelisk found in the middle of the square. On the obelisk you'll find the 'West Ponente' tile which is one of the references in Brown's novel.