Mausoleum of Hadrian
On November 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

Following the example of Augustus, who had built a Mausoleum in the Campus Martius, the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) decided to build a monumental tomb for himself and his successors during his lifetime.

The resulting Mausoleum of Hadrian was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, not far from that of Augustus.

Photo credits by Ben Cremin under CC-BY license.

Begun around 130 AD, it had a massive cylindrical core, 64m in diameter, the lower part of which was surrounded by a square base completely veneered in marble.

An earthen tumulus probably rose above this cylinder, the monument being crowned by a huge central pillar surmounted by a gilt bronze statue of the emperor in a chariot.

The building was incomplete when Hadrian died and he could not be buried there until a year later, in 139 AD, after Antoninus Pius had finished the great tomb.

To facilitate direct access to the tomb from the Campus Martius, Hadrian also built the bridge to which he gave his family name, the Pons Aelius, a greater and more elaborate structure than any of its predecessors.

The Mausoleum was included by Honorius, at the beginning of the 5th Century AD, in the defensive system of the Aurelian Walls, as a kind of outlying bastion, and perhaps from the 10th Century  onwards, it was transformed into a fortress (Castel Sant’Angelo), serving to defend the Vatican, to which it was linked by a special ‘viaduct’ (raised passageway).

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