(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

Vision of the Cross (detail)

Sala di Constantino, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican

The view of the "Tomb-pyramid of Romulus", which is no longer there, and the so-called Citadel of Sant'Angelo together with the bridge of Sant'Angelo, is an example of Raphael's interest in ancient Rome. The view Raphael has chosen more or less matches the view he had of Rome in 1520 from his Vatican loggie, which are located right behind the wall painted with the fresco. The Citadel of Sant'Angelo appears to be Raphael's reconstruction of the original ancient building, the erstwhile Hadrian Mausoleum, as it might have looked in the days of Emperor Constantine. By depicting this view of ancient Rome, Raphael is suggesting to anyone viewing that fresco that Constantine experienced his vision in the precise place where the Vatican State is now located. By this means Raphael was able to confirm in a very subtle manner, that the Popes had established themselves in Rome - more specifically - in the Vatican.