Take a cinematic journey in the Eternal City with these Angels and Demons locations in Rome.
Angels and Demons, the film adaption of the second book in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code trilogy, may not be a cinematic masterpiece but it sure is entertaining. And there are few better films to transport you to the timeless streets of Rome.
From the grandeur of St. Peter’s Basilica to the mysterious depths of Castel Sant’Angelo, let me take you on a journey to the Eternal City through the magic of cinema. So, grab your virtual passport and travel to these Angels & Demons filming locations in Rome, Italy.
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About Angels and Demons
Angels & Demons follows Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon as he races against time to stop the sinister Illuminati from destroying Vatican City with antimatter.
The 2009 film adaptation was directed by Ron Howard and is one of the most entertaining movies set in Italy. It stars Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Armin Mueller-Stahl.
Angels and Demons Locations in Rome
Although interior scenes were filmed at Culver City in California and at the legendary Cinecittà Studios, many exterior scenes were shot at various locations in Rome.
To help you put together an Angels and Demons tour of Rome, here’s a map showing the locations of all of the places mentioned in this article. To access an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.
1. Vatican City
At the start of Angels and Demons, following the death of the Pope, the Cardinals are heading into the Conclave in the Vatican to vote for a new pope. Four of the preferati, favoured candidates to be elected pope, are kidnapped by a man claiming to represent the Illuminati. He threatens to murder each of the cardinals from 8 pm to midnight, at which time an antimatter bomb will destroy the Vatican.
Unsurprisingly, the Vatican didn’t grant permission to film in Vatican City and scenes set there were created in the studio helped by the sorcery of CGI.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica and Square
St. Peter’s Square and Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro), a UNESCO World Heritage site and the spiritual capital of Roman Catholicism, were extensively featured in the film. Although some of the filming did take place in St Peter’s Square, the scenes set within the Basilica were shot in the Royal Palace of Caserta, 15 miles north of Naples.
FUN FACT: The Royal Palace of Caserta also doubled as Queen Amidala’s palace on Naboo in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
3. Biblioteca Angelica
Robert Langdon sets off on his journey across Rome from the Vatican car park, accompanied by Dr Vetra. This scene was shot in the exterior courtyard of Biblioteca Angelica.
The renowned library was founded in the late 16th Century and houses an extensive collection of manuscripts and ancient texts.
4. The Pantheon
Interior scenes were filmed on a soundstage with the liberal application of CGI post-production. However, the production team was granted rare permission to shoot the exterior scenes in Piazza della Rotunda.
The Pantheon dates from AD 118-28 when Emperor Hadrian replaced a temple built in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa, Augustus’s son-in-law. In the year 609, it became the church of Santa Maria ad Martyres and is the final resting place of the great and good of Italy, including kings Vittorio Emmanuele II and Umberto I.
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5. Piazza del Popolo and Santa Maria del Popolo
Langdon then heads north to Piazza del Popolo.
This majestic square was created in 1538 to provide a scenic entrance to the city from Via Flaminia. It features a 24-meter-high obelisk rising between four fountains with lions, and two Baroque churches: Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria in Montesanto.
And Santa Maria del Popolo is Langdon’s exact destination, specifically Bernini’s Habakkuk and the Angel in the Chigi Chapel. In the crypt of Santa Maria del Popolo (recreated on Cinecittá’s soundstage), he discovers the first cardinal, his mouth stuffed with soil.
6. Santa Maria dell Vittoria
Another clue found in Vatican City – along with another murdered preferato – leads our symbologist east to Santa Maria della Vittoria where he finds his third ex-cardinal, nicely barbequed. This 17th Century church is home to Bellini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, one of Rome’s finest sculptures.
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7. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is the majestic backdrop for the next pivotal scene in Angels and Demons.
This gorgeous square encapsulates the spirit of Rome. A Classical setting – in this case, a Roman circus – has been successfully adapted to the sensibilities of succeeding centuries. It is a triumph of Bernini’s Baroque style.
And it is at Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers Fountain) that our heroes apprehend the assassin attempting to drown Cardinal Baggia. Although the assassin evades capture, Baggia is rescued and tells Langdon that he was held in Castel Sant’Angelo.
8. Castel Sant’Angelo
Castel Sant’Angelo, our final Angels and Demons location in Rome, is revealed as the Chapel of the Illuminati.
This enormous circular structure started life as a mausoleum for Hadrian and his family in 130 AD and then served as an imperial tomb, papal fortress, medieval prison and army barracks. Today, it is home to a museum.
Access is via Ponte Sant’Angelo, one of Rome’s most beautiful bridges, embellished with ten angels sculpted by Bernini.
From Castel Sant’Angelo, Langdon and Vetra follow a secret tunnel leading to the Vatican, where they find the antimatter container in Saint Peter’s tomb, timed to detonate in five minutes.
Phew! Just in the nick of time.
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