Castel Sant'Angelo Rome Exhibitions

Girandola of Castel Sant’Angelo 2024: History, Times and Curiosities

Have you ever heard of the “Girandola” of Castel Sant’Angelo? If you want to know more about this ancient and wonderful fireworks show invented by Michelangelo, this post is just for you!

Below I will tell you the origins and evolution of these fireworks.

We will go back in time to the Renaissance and see the birth of these splendid fires, then return to the present where, thanks to careful philological reconstruction, we will be able to see with our own eyes a very faithful historical reconstruction of the original show.

Are you ready? Then let’s get started!

ALT! Before we start with this short article, I want to give you a piece of advice: you should know that, given the celebrity of this splendid building, you will run the risk of running into a long queue at the ticket office to visit Castel Sant’Angelo. To enter this attraction and skip the queue, I recommend you buy your ticket online. Click below to book your entrance and enter the Castel Sant’Angelo in an instant.

castel santangelo roma

Skip-the-line ticket Castel Sant’Angelo Rome: fast access

Buy online. Choose your preferred time. Visit Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo, the Sant’Angelo Bridge, the prisons and much more.

You can cancel free of charge up to the day before the visit.

Girandola Castel Sant’Angelo 2024

  • Date of the event: June 29th
  • Location: Castel Sant’Angelo, Lungotevere Castello 1, 30124 Rome (RM)
  • Hour: 10:30 p.m.
  • Duration: around 20 minutes

Girandola in Castel Sant’Angelo: History and Description

castel sant'angelo fireworks

To get to the origins of this pyrotechnic display, we have to go back in time to 1481, when it was performed on the Terrazzo dell’Angelo to celebrate the pontificate of Pope Sixtus I.

At his behest, the spectacle of the Girandola became part of the tradition of festivities in Rome. For centuries it was used to celebrate solemn events such as the Easter, the feast of the patrons Sts Peter and Paul and the pope’s coronation.

Tradition has it that the original design belonged to Michelangelo Buonarroti. The artist, who envisaged the use of some five thousand rockets in the design, took pains to ensure that the attention of the spectators shifted from the sound of the explosions to the flashy colours of the fires. By exploiting intricate alchemistry in the materials used, he managed to create a spectacle worthy of his best works of art.

The design was then perfected by Giovan Battista Bernini, who acted on the flumina lucis – the rivers of light – with a scientific method: not should have been less than sixty, but not even more than eighty, only then would the human eye have been able to grasp all the smoothness without getting confused. 

The show was therefore, from the outset, calibrated and studied in every detail. The finale, then, left stunned visitors who came to Rome from all over the world to witness it: a fountain of sparks of light that entirely embraced the imposing figure of the castle.

The history of art is littered with testimonies of this event of international scope: among many works, we find it depicted on prints by Giovan Battista Piranesi, in the poetry of the Roman Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli and in the prose of the celebrated English author Charles Dickens

Although with some discontinuity, the spectacle remained in the Roman tradition until the end of the 19th century, when it was decided to suspend it due to the extensive damage to the decorations of the rooms below the Terrazzo dell’Angelo

Since 2008, however, thanks to an accurate philological reconstruction by Cav. Giuseppe Passeri of the Gruppo IX Invicta, the spectacle has returned to light up the Roman night on the occasion of the festival of the patron saints Sts Peter and Paul on 29 June.

castel santangelo roma

Skip-the-line ticket Castel Sant’Angelo Rome: fast access

Buy online. Choose your preferred time. Visit Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo, the Sant’Angelo Bridge, the prisons and much more.

You can cancel free of charge up to the day before the visit.

Girandola Mole Adriana: How to See It

The spectacle of the Girandola di Castel Sant’Angelo takes place every 29 June in Rome on the occasion of the festival of the local patron saints Sts. Peter and Paul

The historical reconstruction of the Girandola firework display is now curated by the architect Giuseppe Passeri and the Gruppo IX Invicta, and organised by the Direction of State Museums of the City of Rome and the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo

In recent editions, it has been possible to enjoy the piro-musical show from Lungotevere Tor di Nona, from Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II, from Ponte Umberto I and of course from Ponte Sant’Angelo.

The performance lasts about twenty minutes.

Girandola Show Rome: Frequently Asked Questions

Where to see the Girandola in Rome?

The Girandola spectacle takes place at Castel Sant’Angelo and on the Passetto di Borgo. To watch it, I recommend the Lungotevere Tor di Nona, the Ponte Emanuele II, the Ponte Umberto I and of course the Ponte Sant’Angelo.
If you prefer to be away from the crowds, you could try to watch it from a viewpoint such as the top of the Janiculum.

How long does the Castel Sant’angelo tour last?

The visit of Castel Sant’Angelo lasts an average of 1 hour and a half, but on the occasion of temporary exhibitions, or if you are a enthusiast or a student of artworks, you may take more time to visit the Museum.

How much does it cost to enter Castel Sant’angelo?

The entrance tickets to the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo have varying prices depending on the desired ancillary services. 
The price of the standard ticket with reserved entrance starts at €19, with the addition of the audioguide the basic price rises to €32, while the cost of the guided tour starts at €37
You can also buy a combined ticket with other attractions in Rome or the Vatican
If you are staying in Rome for a few days and don’t want to miss anything, you may find it convenient to purchase the Rome Pass (from €55) or the Rome Tourist Card (from €95).

Come salire a Castel Sant’angelo?

To go inside Castel Sant’Angelo it is necessary to purchase a entrance ticket to the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo.

The Fireworks Show in Castel Sant’Angelo: Conclusions

Here we are at the end of this short survey on the Girandola of Castel Sant’Angelo;

In this post, I wanted to tell you about the history of this fireworks display that, for centuries, has taken place in Castel Sant’Angelo, and more precisely on the Terrazza dell’Angelo

I have told you the history of the event and the original design of Michelangelo. I have also told you about the contribution of Bernini and the recent rediscovery of this spectacle. 

I gave you a few tips on how to assist and wanted to answer the most frequently asked questions.

If you need more information, leave a comment below; if instead you wish to visit Castel Sant’Angelo, click here and buy your entrance ticket by skipping the queue at the ticket office.

castel santangelo roma

Skip-the-line ticket Castel Sant’Angelo Rome: fast access

Buy online. Choose your preferred time. Visit Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo, the Sant’Angelo Bridge, the prisons and much more.

You can cancel free of charge up to the day before the visit.

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