Home to the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms and one of the most important art collections in the world, the Vatican Museums are undoubtedly one of the most exciting experiences you can have during your visit to Rome.
The Vatican museums boast one of the largest art collections in the world over 7 km of exhibition space. Many more masterpieces and works of art are kept here than many nations on the planet possess.
- See for yourself one of the most famous images in Western art: The Creation of Adam.
- Discover the magnificence of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment
- Observe the walls of the Sistine Chapel, painted by the great masters of the Renaissance.
Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums: Info, tickets and fees
Viale Vaticano, Vatican City, 00186 Rome RM
Line A, stops ‘Ottaviano – Vatican Museums’ or ‘Cyprus’
Tickets will give you access to the Sistine Chapel and all the galleries and collections of the Vatican Museums.
The longest queue in Rome is, precisely, the one for the Vatican museums. It is definitely recommended to book the ticket online to better enjoy the visit and not to waste time in the queue.
Here are the types of tickets:
- Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel (Last Minute): Accompanied entry and unlimited time inside the Vatican Museums.
- Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel (skip the line): Skip the long lines and gain quick access to both the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
Rome Tourist Card (bestseller)
– Discover the best of Rome with this popular cumulative ticket. Includes access to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica (official guided tour) and more!
- Recommended: do you also want to visit St. Peter’s Basilica (official guided tour), the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel (last-minute ticket) and all the best of Vatican City? Take a look at the benefits of Vatican City Pass
- Monday through Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (last admission at 4:00 p.m.).
- Closed: Sundays, January 1 and 6, February 11, March 19, April 18, June 29, August 15, November 1, December 8 and 26.
As with most churches in Rome, clothing with shoulders and knees covered is required. Do not wear flip-flops.
- Book your time slot online and arrive at least 15 minutes before the designated time.
- Tickets will arrive in your e-mail which you can then show in hard copy or digital format.
- Discounted tickets for children aged 12 to 17 and students up to 25 (with valid student ID).
- Optional audio guides are available for a fee in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese or Russian.
Roma Tourist Card: cultural tourism card of Rome
To get the most out of your visit to Rome, it is very advantageous to purchase the Roma Tourist Card.
In addition to the skip-the-line tickets for the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, with the same pass you can visit other famous Roman attractions: the guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel; the Pantheon audio guide; and priority admission to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine.
Just select the dates of your stay in Rome and you will receive your tickets directly via Email.
What is included:
- Skip-the-line tickets for the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
- Access to all galleries and rooms of the Vatican Museums.
The Sistine Chapel owes its name to its founder, Pope Sixtus IV. It is undoubtedly the Vatican’s most precious gem and houses what are considered the supreme masterpieces of the Renaissance and art in general: the frescoes of the vault and the Last Judgment, both painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti.
This rectangular room was the private chapel of the pontiffs and for centuries has been the site of the conclave for the election of the new pope.
The Sistine Chapel is usually the last stop on a visit to the Vatican Museums, and to get there you can choose the short route, or the long route.
The Sistine Chapel Ceiling
On the vault of the Sistine Chapel Michelangelo painted 366 figures from the Old and New Testaments, illustrating the biblical stories of the creation of the world, the fall of man, and the coming of Christ.
Surrounding these frescoes are the “ignudi,” 20 naked men with athletic physiques who caused a scandal when they were unveiled.
In the cornices surrounding the vault are the sibyls, prophetesses of pagan mythology.
The central painting “The Creation of Adam,” which depicts God descending from a cloudy sky to create Adam, is one of the most reproduced religious paintings of all time.
The Last Judgment
The Last Judgment was painted by Michelangelo 24 years after completing the vault of the Sistine Chapel.
This gigantic fresco occupies the 200-square-meter western wall of the Chapel.
To paint the Last Judgment, Michelangelo was inspired by Dante’s Inferno: the painting is a somber and haunting work that shows on the right the damned minds plummeting toward hell, and on the left the blessed as they are being led to heaven.
Among the 300 painted figures around the central figure of Jesus are the saints who seek revenge for their martyrdom.
In this work, Michelangelo gave Minos, judge of the damned, the face of one of his harshest critics, Biagio Da Cesena, depicted with donkey ears, his body wrapped in the coils of a serpent.
Michelangelo depicted himself without a beard in the figure of St. Bartholomew holding his own skin as a reminder of his martyrdom.
The other walls of the Sistine Chapel
The side walls of the Sistine Chapel were painted by the most important artists of the Renaissance: Pinturicchio, Botticelli, Perugino, Ghirlandaio, Rosselli, and Signorelli, all Tuscan or Umbrian artists.
To the left of the Last Judgment are depicted and scenes from the Old Testament. On the right side, however, are scenes from the New Testament.
On the opposite wall Last Judgment is Ghirlandaio’s Resurrection of Christ and Signorelli’s Dispute over the Body of Moses.
Vatican Museums: works not to be missed
- Raphael Rooms: in 1508 Pope Julius II asked Bramante to recommend an artist to renovate his private residence. It took Raphael and his pupils more than 16 years to fresco these four rooms: the Hall of Constantine, the Heliodorus Room, the Stanza della Segnatura, and The Room of the Borgo Fire.
- Stanza della Segnatura: The frescoes in this room celebrate the Renaissance ideal. The ability of the intellect to discover truth. The most important work is theSchool of Athens in which Raphael depicts the major Greek philosophers in a vaulted hall.
- Lacoonte Group: The extraordinary Pius-Clementine Museum holds some of the Vatican’s finest classical sculptures including the peerless Apollo of Belvedere and the Lacoonte Group, both displayed in the octagonal courtyard. The Lacoon and is a dramatic work showing the Trojan priest Lacoon and his two sons struggling to escape the coils of a sea serpent.
- The Map Gallery : On the second floor you will find the map gallery where you can admire the frescoed maps of Italy and the church’s possessions around 1580. They are painted as if Rome were at the center of the world. Liguria, for example, is represented as we know it, but territories south of Rome such as Sicily are represented under-represented.
- The Vatican Picture Gallery: splendid Renaissance works from all over Italy are displayed in the eighteen-room art gallery. Don’t miss the works of great masters including Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Titian and Raphael Sanzio
Curiosities about the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums
- When Pope Julius II proposed that Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel, the artist was reluctant to accept because he considered himself a sculptor, and had no experience in painting. The Pope convinced him with a fee of 3,000 ducats, about 1.5-2 million euros today.
- Naked bodies painted in the Last Judgment aroused strong scandal, and in 1564 nudity coverage was ordered. The task was given to Daniele da Volterra, a pupil of Michelangelo, who added fig leaves and cloth around the hips of 41 nudes, thus earning him the nickname “Braghettone.”
- Bramante designed the spiral staircase in the Vatican Museums so that it could be climbed on horseback.
History of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel
- 1473 Sixtus VI has the Sistine Chapel, originally called the Cappella Magna, built;
- 1482 Sixtus VI commissioned a group of great Renaissance artists to paint the walls of the Chapel;
- 1483 Sixtus VI consecrated the chapel, dedicated it to the Virgin Mary and celebrated the first Mass;
- 1503 Pope Julius II begins collection of classical sculpture
- 1508 Raphael Sanzio begins work on the rooms of the Vatican Museum, and Michelangelo begins painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel;
- 1541 Michelangelo Buonarroti presents the Last Judgment;
- 1655 Bernini designs the Scala Regia;
- 1761 The Museum of Pagan Antiquities is established;
- 1771 The Pius Clementine Museum is established;
- 1980 Major renovations begin on the Sistine Chapel;
- Today the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are among the most popular tourist destinations in Rome. The Chapel is still used as the site of the conclave to elect the new pope.
The Sistine Chapel is located in Vatican City, Rome.
Michelangelo took four years to paint the Sistine Chapel.
St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums are both located in Vatican City but are different and separate buildings.
How to Reach the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums
The Sistine Chapel is located inside the Vatican Museums. The entrance to the museums is on Vatican Avenue, north of the city center. It is easily accessible by public transportation.
Metro: Line A, stops ‘Ottaviano – Vatican Museums’ or ‘Cipro’
Buses: 49, 23, 81, 492, 990
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