Since the publication of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons book and subsequently the movie, a visit to Rome is never the same again. Apart from the highlights, such as the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, you now also have to visit the locations where the Angels and Demons book is set. And rightly so, because the locations are beautiful and in most cases not yet overrun by tourists.
Walk along the Angels and Demons locations
If you love the book or film and are visiting Rome (or plan to go there), this article might interest you even more. To make it easy, we have put together an itinerary that will make it very pleasant to walk along most of the sites in a logical order. We’ve even added a specific time, as some locations are not open all day.
Keep your eyes open, because the signs of the Illuminati, the secret order that fights a battle with the Catholic Church (in the book and in the film at least) can be seen everywhere. Those signs are among others Obelisks, Pyramids, ovals and the number 5.
Angels and Demons in short
What is Angels and Demons all about? The theme revolves around the battle between science and faith. Specifically, an ancient society of scientists, the so-called ‘Illuminati’, threatens to destroy the Vatican. To this end, they’ve placed antimatter, a bomb, under St Peter’s and kidnapped four cardinals. It’s up to Professor Robert Langdon to save the four cardinals and the Vatican. He fails in the first mission, but succeeds in the second. And luckily so, because now we still can visit St Peter’s and the Sixtine Chapel.
Angels and Demons Rome walk itinerary
Ok, it times to get going. As mentioned, we’ve tried to take into account the opening hours. However, these might may differ over time, so always double check the openings hours in advance. We will hover try to keep this itinerary up-to-date. Well, here we go…
9.30 AM Piazza del Popolo
The most beautiful square in Rome is full of illuminati symbolism. The square is oval, there is an Obelisk and in the City Gate, the illuminati coat of arms of the new world order can be seen (with some good will). We have to hurry because any moment the first cardinal might die. Enter the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo. There are three Churches on the square, but you take the one next to the City Gate.
The Chigi or ‘earth’ Chapel is the brilliant work of Raphael, the Renaissance artist. Inside the Chapel, two pyramids and four corner niches with each a sculpture show. The message of the Illuminati Order is hidden in the sculpture group ‘Habakkuk and the Angel’, a work by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the baroque artist par excellence.
In this Chapel Langdon and Vittoria find the first victim under the marble bin of the crypt. The poor Cardinal comes to a rather nasty end:
Hurry up: by 9.45 you will be kicked out of this church because a mass is about to start.
10.30 AM Via XX Settembre
Half an hour’s walk or shorter by taxi, Uber or some (electric) share vehicle the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria awaits us. This is where the third cardinal is fighting for his life. But according to the Angels and Demons book, this Church is nót located on this Via XX Settembre Street:
“Langdon and Vittoria observed Piazza Barberini from the shadows of a small alleyway in the Western corner. The church [of Saint Vittoria] was opposite them, a hazy cupola emerging from a faint cluster of buildings across the square”
How about that? Literary freedom of Dan Brown, shall we say? The point is, that according to Brown’s idea, every cardinal should be killed on an oval square with an obelisk in the center of it. Unfortunately, the Via XX Settembre is a Street, not a Square and the Obelisk closest to this Church is probably in Egypt. That’s why Brown makes up a story that because of the construction of an underground station, historians were afraid that the Obelisk would fall down:
“City planners had removed the obelisk and replaced it with a small fountain called the Triton.”
If the Vittoria Church is open upon your arrival (it should!), go inside. In the last Chapel on the left side just before the main altar, you will find a sculpture by our own Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Here again, an angel is our guide. This time the angel is with a woman, Saint Theresa of Ávila, who is in a state of rapture. Never before had an artist depicted the experience of divine love in such a physical expression.
This is how spectacular the scene in the film Angels and Demons is:
After these two locations, you can take it steady and easy. The rest is mostly outdoors and you hardly need to worry about opening hours.
11.00 AM Pantheon
(20 minutes walking distance from the ‘Vittoria’ Church)
You face one of the world’s greatest temples. For 1,900 years, the Pantheon has graced Rome. It’s unique and simply beautiful.
In this Temple (which is now a Church), Langdon begins his frenetic quest to save the lives of the four cardinals. All seems perfectly clear, examing the typical Illuminati sign of the Obelisk perch on the round Square in front of the Temple/ Church. Together with Vittoria he heads to Raphael’s tomb in this monument. Unfortunately, this is the wrong clue; Langdon and Vittoria lose a lot of precious time at this location.
Displayed below is a photo of the Pantheon and the Square in front of it. We took this picture during the coronavirus lockdown (Italy imposed a strict lockdown between March 9 and May 4, 2020).
Normally this Angels and Demons site is packed with people as it is one of the tourist highlights of Rome.
Langdon did not have time to stay at the Pantheon long, but fortunately we do. Let’s take a break at Tazzo d’oro. That’s a bar diagonally opposite the Pantheon. You’ll remember this café from the Angels and Demons book.
“Others sat enjoying Rome’s best iced coffee at La Tazza d’Oro’s outdoor café,”
No, we’re not going to bash Dan Brown again for the fact that Tazza d’Oro has no outdoor terrace. That would be impossible, as the street in front is too narrow. But he is right about one thing: Tazza d’Oro is a great place.
(5 minutes walk)
On Piazza Navona, a cardinal (almost) gave his life for the war between science and faith. In Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers located in the center of the Square to be precise. It’s another masterpiece by Bernini, a secret member of the Illuminati, according to Brown. Have a look at the dove at the top of the fountain. Her bottom is pointing in the direction you need to go later.
Take a look at movie’s scene (according to the title of this clip, this would happen at the ‘Trevi Fountain’, obviously an error):
During the day, the square doesn’t look this peaceful: it’s actually much more crowded. By the people walking their dogs in the photo, you can tell that the picture was taken during the 2020 lockdown, as only they had permission to go outside:
12.00 AM Ponte Sant’Angelo – Angel’s Bridge
(10 minutes walk)
Ponte Sant’Angelo (Angel´s Bridge) is the most famous of the 33 bridges that cross the Tiber River in Rome. Each side of the bridge is decorated by five marble angels. Five (‘penta’) is an Illuminati number. The bridge leads directly to Castel Sant’Angelo. On the roof of this fortress sits a bronze angel pointing down. This would be the headquarters of the Illuminati Order, their own ‘Church’ so to say.
In the Angels and Demons book, the Hassassin, also referred to as the killer, meets a terrible end after Langdon ‘treats’ him with a torch during a fight:
“The Hassassin stumbled back against the railing. Langdon and Vittoria went for him at the same instant, both heaving and pushing. The Hassassin’s body sailed backward over the banister into the night. There was no scream.”
From the Angel’s Castle, a tan straight brick wall runs towards the Vatican. This is the famous ‘Passetto’ that Langdon and Vittoria take to get to the Vatican. The Passetto is the secret passageway that connects the impenetrable fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo with the Vatican. However, it can hardly be called a secret anymore! You can see the Passetto from the street, and it is clearly no tunnel, as described in the Angels and Demons book. It´s really only a covered walkway, intended for the Pope’s use – to escape from the Vatican if necessary, protecting him from kidnappers and… assassins.
The passage is nowadays closed on the part located on Vatican territory. Remember that the Vatican is a State by its own, the smallest in the world as a matter of fact: 104 acres.
12.30 AM St Peter’s Square / the Vatican
(10 minutes walk)
Standing on the square you can see at a glance: St Peter’s, the roof of the Sistine Chapel, the Apostolic Palace where the Pope has his office with in the center of the square a beautiful obelisk. Around the obelisk, different plates or reliefs are embedded in the ground. The wind directions are shown. Find the relief marked “West Ponente”. That’s the place where the next scene takes place.
The square is quiet, as in this picture (lockdown 2020). In the Angels and Demons book, nothing seems to be happening:
“The area seemed perfectly calm. Tourists wandered. A homeless drunk dozed awkwardly at the base of the obelisk. A little girl fed pigeons.”
One almost wonders if we are in the wrong place. Did we accidentally end up in Venice, the pigeon capital, without knowing it? But then the action starts:
“Then… the little girl began to scream. The terrified youngster stood frozen, pointing at the base of the obelisk where a shabby, decrepit drunk sat slumped on the stairs. The man pitched forward, toppled off the stairs, and hit the pavement face down. Motionless.”
Exit cardinal number four (the second cardinal, according to the order in the book), who is ‘dressed up’ as a drunk.
This Square is also where the book ends. When it emerges that the kind and seemingly helpful Camerlengo, the temporary substitute of the deceased pope, has planned the entire show, he finds only one way out. Dan Brown makes him say goodbye dramatically, from the central balcony of St Peter’s, the same balcony that features the presentation of a new pope with the famous words ‘Habemus papam’. But no famous last words pass the lips of the camerlengo.
“High above on the balcony, like a soul tearing free of its corporeal restrains, a luminous pyre of flame erupted from the camerlengo’s center. The fire shot upward, engulfing his entire body instantly. It raged for what seemed like an eternity. The whole world bearing witness. Then, gradually, the flames dissipated. The camerlengo was gone. Whether he had collapsed or evaporated into thin air was impossible to tell. All that was left was a cloud of smoke spiraling skywards over Vatican City.”
1.00 PM The end
Time for a nice lunch. How about a plate of pici al tartufo in the rather authentic restaurant not far from St Peter’s Square: Il Sorpasso? Buon appetito!
Angels and Demons itinerary for Rome
As you can read and see, fans of Angels and Demons can witness or even experience many characteristic items form the book and film in Rome. I hope the above listing comes to use and you find time for the itinerary! Below, I’ve presented some additional FAQ about the Angels and Demons locations in Rome.
Please let me know your own experiences in the comments below and what you liked most of this itinerary or Rome in general! I would definitely appreciate your feedback!
Where is the Angels and Demons book set?
Apart from some scenes in the United States and in Geneva (Switzerland), the book and the film Angels and Demons are for 95% set in Rome.
What are the Angels and Demons locations where the four cardinals were murdered?
In the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo and that of Santa Maria della Vitttoria, in St Peter’s Square and in the central fountain in Piazza Navona. In the Angels and Demons film, however, the fourth cardinal is saved from drowning.
Are the Angels and Demons sites in the film the same as in the book?
It’s funny, but the film Angels and Demons (2009) is more true to life than the Angels and Demons book (2000). For example, the Church of Santa Maria Vittoria is wrongly located in Piazza Barberini and the secret passage ‘Passetto’ is a tunnel and not an above-ground passage as it is in reality.
Is it possible to visit the secret passageway ‘Passetto’ in Rome?
You can request a visit to the Passetto in advance by calling +39 06 32810 (Monday-Friday: 9am-6pm; Saturday 9am-1pm). Occasionally, during summer, the Passetto is open in the evenings for those visiting Castel Sant’Angelo, a museum.
Is Angels and Demons on Netflix?
The Angels and Demons film has been available on Netflix since 2019. You can also stream the movie on Hulu and Tubi (however, not in Europe). The film is for rent on various platforms, such as Amazon Prime.