Visit Rome following 8 XVIIIth century itineraries XVIIIth century Rome in the 10 Books of Giuseppe Vasi - Le Magnificenze di Roma Antica e Moderna The Grand View of Rome by G. Vasi The Environs of Rome: Frascati, Tivoli, Albano and other small towns near Rome A 1781 map of Rome by G. Vasi An 1852 map of Rome by P. Letarouilly Rome seen by a 1905 armchair traveller in the paintings by Alberto Pisa The 14 historical districts of Rome An abridged history of Rome How to spend a peaceful day in Rome Baroque sculptors and their works The coats of arms of the popes in the monuments of Rome Pages on a specific pope Pages complementing the itineraries and the views by Giuseppe Vasi Walks in the Roman countryside and in other towns of Latium following Ferdinand Gregorovius A Directory of links to the Churches of Rome A Directory of links to the Palaces and Villas of Rome A Directory of links to the Other Monuments of Rome A Directory of Baroque Architects with links to their works A Directory of links to Monuments of Ancient Rome A Directory of links to Monuments of Medieval Rome A Directory of links to Monuments of Renaissance A Directory of links to Monuments of the Late Renaissance A list of the most noteworthy Roman Families Directories of fountains, obelisks, museums, etc. Books and guides used for developing this web site An illustrated Glossary of Art Terms Venice and the Levant Roman recollections in Florence A list of Italian towns shown in this web site Venetian Fortresses in Greece Vienna seen by an Italian XVIIIth century traveller A list of foreign towns shown in this web site
What's New!

Detailed Sitemap

All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.

Porta Cavalleggeri (Book 1) (Map D2) (Day 8) (Rione Borgo)

In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
Today's view and S. Salvatore in Torrione
Porta Cavalleggeri
Palazzo della Sacra Inquisizione (Sant'Uffizio)
SS. Michele e Magno
The Walls between Porta Cavalleggeri and Porta Fabrica

The Plate (No. 16)

Porta Cavalleggeri

Giuseppe Vasi made his view of Porta Cavalleggeri much more interesting by taking it from a long distance away in order to show the dome of S. Pietro, which is better seen from the hill outside the gate, than from Piazza S. Pietro. Porta Cavalleggeri was also known as Porta in Torrione (large tower) owing to two circular towers at its sides; that on the left was pulled down by Pope Pius IV when he built new barracks for the papal cavalry. The long building outside the gate was a kiln; the bricks which were produced there were carried into the city through Porta Fabrica, a small gate to the left of Porta Cavalleggeri.
The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map here below. In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) Basilica Vaticana (S. Pietro); 2) Palazzo Apostolico; 3) Palazzo del Sant'Offizio o della Santa Inquisizione; 4) Quartiere dei Cavalleggeri (cavalry barracks). 1) and 2) are shown in other pages. The small map shows also: 5) Porta Cavalleggeri; 6) SS. Michele e Magno; 7) Porta Fabrica.

Small ViewSmall View


The Gate today
(left) The dome in January 2010; (right) the view towards Porta Cavalleggeri in 2001

In 1904 a section of the walls which included Porta Cavalleggeri was pulled down in order to open a large street; the gate was rebuilt to the left of the street together with a small fountain which stood to the right of the gate (today to its left). Palazzo del Sant'Offizio was to a large extent rebuilt during the 1920s. The apse of Chiesa di S. Salvatore in Torrione, shown by Vasi inside the gate, is now in full view next to Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio. The church and the palace are inside Vatican City.

Porta Cavalleggeri

The Coats of Arms
(left) The reconstructed gate; (right) coats of arms of Pope Alexander VI

The walls which surround the Vatican were rebuilt by Pope Pius IV, but Porta Cavalleggeri and the two towers which protected it belong to an earlier period; the towers are thought to have been built by Pope Nicholas V whereas the gate was designed at the time of Pope Alexander VI.

Palazzo della Sacra Inquisizione

Palazzo della Sacra Inquisizione
Palazzo della Sacra Inquisizione (the section on the right is part of the original building; that on the left was designed by Pietro Guidi and it was completed in 1925)

In 1542 Pope Paul III reorganized the Inquisition, the religious body in charge of identifying and sentencing heretical views. The official name of the institution, Sant'Offizio della Sacra Inquisizione, notwithstanding its references to holy and sacred, acquired such a dreadful reputation that in 1965 it was renamed Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede by Pope John XXIII. The Roman Inquisition acquired a great importance during the pontificate of Pope Pius V who in 1571 bought a series of existing properties and turned them into the premises of this institution; they included a small jail (you can see the coat of arms of Pope Pius V in the image used as background for this page). However some of the most famous trials for which the Inquisition is known, such as those of Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei, were held in Convento della Minerva.
Read Mark Twain's views on the Inquisition.

SS. Michele e Magno

SS. Michele e Magno
(left) Entrance to Scala Santa; (centre) Scala Santa; (right) steps leading to the church (ordinary entrance)

During the VIIIth century the Popes increased their contacts with the kingdoms which were founded in northern Italy and central Europe by Germanic tribes after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, while at the same time they reduced their links with the Byzantine emperors. When between 847 and 853 Pope Leo IV surrounded the Vatican with its first curtain of walls, the area around S. Pietro was almost entirely occupied by four large scholae, (compounds with churches, hospices and hospitals) which were named after the Franks, the Longobards, the Saxons and the Frisians; the Kingdom of Frisia was established in 600 ca. on the North Sea continental coast, from the mouth of the Rhine to today's Denmark. The Frisian schola was located near that of the Saxons and its church was dedicated to St. Michael; at a later date it was dedicated also to S. Magno, i.e. Magnus Forteman, a legendary leader of the Frisians.

SS. Michele e Magno
(left) Interior; (centre) XVIIIth century fresco portraying Pope Leo III showing the sketch of the church; (right) bell tower seen from Castel Sant'Angelo)

SS. Michele e Magno was stormed by the Normans in 1084 during the investiture controversy and it was rebuilt in the following century; its bell tower is not visible from the street nor from the small space in front of the church. The church eventually lost its connection with the Frisians and in 1508 it became a parish church. Its current aspect is due to an overall 1749 redesign by Carlo Murena during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XIV; the direct access to the church from the street is through a 33 steps staircase, which similar to Scala Santa, is ascended by worshippers on their knees.

Monument to Raphael Mengs
(left) Monument to Raphael Mengs by Vincenzo Pacetti; (right) the Dutch flag

The German painter Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-79) is buried in the church. During his lifetime he was regarded as the heir to Raphael; along with the sculptor Antonio Canova and the art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann he is considered the father of the Neoclassic style in Rome.
Today the church is under the patronage of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, of which Frisia/Friesland is a province (click here for a list of national churches in Rome).

The Walls between Porta Cavalleggeri and Porta Fabrica

The Coats of Arms
(left) Fountain with the coat of arms of Pope Pius IV; (right) rear view of 1971 Aula delle Udienze by Pier Luigi Nervi (a large Audience Hall which seats 8,000)

The distance between Porta Cavalleggeri and Porta Fabrica is less than a hundred yards and the only thing worthwhile mentioning is an ancient sarcophagus placed by Pope Pius IV which was used as a trough for the horses of the nearby cavalry barracks.

Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:

Palazzo della Sagra Inquisizione
Essendo da Paolo III. istituito il Tribunale della sagra Inquisizione, dopo varie mutazioni, alla fine s. Pio V. quivi lo stabilý, costruendovi tutti li comodi convenienti per li ministri, e per li rei. Nel vicolo a destra di questo si vede la
Porta Cavalleggieri
Dicevasi anticamente questa porta del Torrione, dipoi in Posterula; ma essendovi fatto appresso il quartiere della guardia Pontificia, chiamata de' Cavalleggieri, di questi ora porta il nome.

Chiesa di s. Michele Arcangelo, e di s. Magno
Si disse questa chiesa in Sassia, per la medesima ragione, che dicemmo dello Spedale di s. Spirito, mentre le sta non molto lungi. Fu eretta in onore del s. Principe circa l'anno 813. da Carlo Magno sulla punta di quel colle; perci˛ vi si sale per alcuni gradini, e conservandosi in essa il corpo di s. Magno vescovo e martire, porta il nome ancora di questo Santo. Paolo III. eresse in questa chiesa una Confraternita per associare il ss. Viatico della Basilica Vaticana; e nell'anno 1631. vi fu costituito un collegio di cento Preti, e venti chierici sotto il titolo della ss. Concezione, che poi fu trasportato, come dicemmo, nel collegio Ecclesiastico presso ponte Sisto. Fu ultimamente rinnovata questa chiesa da Benedetto XIV. ed ornata di varie pitture moderne.

Next plate in Book 1: Porta Fabrica
Next step in Day 8 itinerary: Chiesa di S. Maria delle Fornaci