Passetto di Borgo, Rome - The Traveller


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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Passetto di Borgo, Rome


Passetto di Borgo – Long Elevated Walkway through Centre of Rome

The Passetto di Borgo or Passetto is a raised passage which connects the Vatican City with the Castel Sant Angelo and is around 800 meters long elevated walkway which runs through the centre of Rome. It is located in the rione of Borgo and was erected in 1277 by Pope Nicholas III while parts of the wall seemed to be built by Totila during the Gothic War.

It served as an escape route for the Popes in times of danger on many occasions. When Charles VIII had invaded the city and the pope’s life seemed to be in danger, Pope Alexander VI had crossed it in 1494. During the Sack of Rome in 1527, Clement VII had escaped through this passage to safety, when the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V had massacred most of the entire Swiss Guard on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

 The Assassin EzioAuditore da Firenze fought his way along the Passetto di Borgo on December 28, 1499to reach the Grand Master of the Templars, Rodrigo Borgia. Four years later, after Rodrigo’s son Cesare had him killed by using a poison filled apple and the Passetto was used by Cesare to reach the Apple of Eden which Rodrigo had hidden in the courtyard in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Constructed for the Purpose to EscapeIn Emergency

His attempt was a failure since Ezio had managed to go ahead first to the location and recover it shortly escaping the Vatican district thereafter. Pope Nicholas III who had constructed it, was for the purpose of enabling escapes of the Pope in case of an emergency.

The secret passage was also utilised for another reason, to lead in prisons, characters that were famous without arousing much suspicion and not letting anyone know about it. Passetto di Borgo was also known to inspire the famous American author of the thriller Dan Brown for his latest novel `Hell’ wherein around 50 thousand copies were said to be sold in a single day. Presently in the capital, mainly in summer, the passageways are kept opened for visits of Rome and other tourist who can also get glimpses of it in a beautiful night atmosphere.

In 1906 – Turned into a Museum

In order to reach the Passetto one would have to take the subway to Republic Battistini for 6 stops in Cipro after around 600 meters where one could reach the Vatican walls.The Passetto also played an important role in the Dan Brown novel Angels & Demon wherein the antagonist, a Hashishin had transported four abducted cardinals to the Castle of Sant’ Angelo and the protagonist Robert Langdon as well as Vittoria Vetra had later on used the Passetto as a shortcut to the Vatican City.

In 1630 the upper footway had been covered with a roof by Pope Urban VIII and had it turned into a second gallery.However this addition was removed sooner than 1949 when the restoration work saved the original shape of the passage. Towards 1906, it was turned into a museum and for many years the gallery running through the Passetto remain closed to the tourist since most of its parts became unsteady and insecure.

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