Rome Vatican Sistine Chapel Raphael Rooms Museums And Galleries

See Also  Vatican City Information St Peters  – Papal Blessings
Rome City Guide


The Sistine Chapel


image courtesy of wiki

The Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina above) is the one of the worlds most famous chapels and for many the most beautiful. The Chapel origins date back to 1368 was known as the Cappella Magna. In 1477 it was restored by Pope Sixtus 1V which is where it’s present name is derived from. Its architecture includes contributions from the Renaissance greatest artists – Bernini Botticelli Raphael Sandro and Michelangelo. The latter was commissioned in 1508 by Pope Julius 11 to paint the chapel’s 1,100 square metre ceiling a project which took four years to complete. The outcome is widely acclaimed as Michelangelo’s greatest work . The Chapel also contain Frescoe panels showing the life of Moses and Christ painted by Botticelli Domenico Ghirlandaio Pietro Perugino and Sandro. Works include: the Creation of Sun, Moon and Planets, the Creation of Adam, the Creation of Eve, the Temptation, the Expulsion from Paradise and the Last Judgment.

Officially it is the residence of the Pope, and the conclave in which the College of Cardinals gather to select each successive Pope. In the roof of the chapel their is a chimney at the foot of which ballot papers are burnt. If after voting no candidate has the necessary two thirds support to become the new Pope the ballot papers are burnt in a way that sends up black smoke signaling the election process is continuing. If a candidate is successful chemicals are added to the ballot papers to turn the smoke white to let outsiders know a pope has been chosen. For more information on this Chapel see the Vatican Museums.


The Raphael Rooms Stanze di Raffaello, Loggia di Raffaello & Cappella di Niccolò V

The four Raphael Rooms as they are known began life as part of Pope Nicholas V’s palace. He commissioned the young Raphael at 26 years to decorate them as he wished. The first room the Study (Stanza della Segnatura) represented Raphaels interest in all things philosophical namely – the triumph of Truth, Good and Beauty. The most famous work here is the School of Athens fresco, which features amongst others Plato as Leonardo, Heraclitus as Michelangelo. with Raphael’s appearing as himself!

His next entrance was in the Stanza di Eliodoro where he frescoed with The Expulsion of Heliodorus depicting God saving the temple in Jerusalem from the thieving hands of Heliodorus. This work was used to illustrate the care and love of God for his Popes.

The third call was the Dining Room (Stanza dell’Incendio), The room commemorates for the Fire in the Borgo, which Pope Leo IV is said to have extinguished by making the the sign of the cross. In this work also is an image of the first church of St Peter.

Finally in 1517 Raphael began work on The Reception Room (Sala di Constantino) which was to represent the Catholic Church’s victory over paganism. Raphael died in 1520 but the room was completed four years later by Giulio Romano using Raphael’s sketched designs. Those that know better than us recommend viewing the rooms in the order they were painted.


Museums & Galleries  In The Vatican

Those that love classic paintings and artifacts by any artist are guaranteed to find an exhibition here that is second to none anywhere else in the world. Those that are critical of the wealth of Catholic Church whilst so many of the faithful live in absolute poverty will probably leave with high blood pressure but both schools will be lost for words. The Vatican collection of Art Treasures was started by Pope Julius II in 1503. Since then successive Popes have commissioned or purchased paintings of their choice by the world’s greatest masters.

Today this collection, it works and the history behind them, is worthy of its own website as it sheer size makes viewing and fully appreciating it on one day impossible. Having said that the displays in the separate museums are categorized and there is a one way style route that enables you to prioritize your viewing. it is usually possible to borrow a wheelchair – they are not bookable but if you telephone 06 6988 3860 you can check before you set out if there are any available. In the meanwhile here is a very brief resume of the most notable collections:

Pinacoteca. A Gallery inspired by by Pius VI which proudly displays pictures once stolen from the Church by Napoleon. Notable works from the 18th & 19th centuries include Giotto’s Stefaneschi Triptych, Caravaggio’s Entombment, St Jerome by Leonardo da Vinci and The Transfiguration the last ever work of Raphael. It also has a number of works from the early days of the Byzantine School complimented by some French and Dutch masters.

Appartamento Borgia commonly called ‘ Borgia Rooms’ after the late 15th century Pope of the same name offers a series of fresco’s many depicting biblical themes by Pinturicchio.

Galleria Chiaramonte features work by the 19th century sculptor Canova who replicated many original Roman statues – the most famous here being the Resting Satyr Praxiteles.

Gallerie dei Candelabri & degli Arazzi Marble Roman statutes, a sea of candelabra and ten magnificent (and very large) tapestries by Pieter van Aelst based on Raphael’s cartoons.

Galleria delle Carte Geographic Bored and anti-sedent children may find Pope Gregory XIII’s fascination for astronomy intriguing in this long gallery representing Italy’s geography.

Museo Egiziano The 19th century rooms of Pope Gregory XV1 dedicated to Egyptian Art might also appeal to the kids – the mummies might bring their interest to life – scary.

Museo Pio-Clementino Two 18th century popes Clement XIV & Pius VI are responsible for the worlds biggest statue collection including the Belvedere Torso from the 1st century BC.

Also worthy of a visit is the Pio Cristiano Museum which houses an intriguing collection of early Christian antiques. The exhibits are mainly sarcophagi carvings of biblical scenes.

The Vatican Library which dates back to Pope Nicholas V rule in the 15th century reportedly contains over a million books and manuscripts. Many of the scripts are medieval. The library is primarily open for student and scholars who must apply in advance for access. to the Admissions Office at or by phone on 06 6987 9403. For further information and detail on the library please see their webpage.
Vatican Museums (Musei vaticani) Additional Information

Address Viale del Vaticano Telephone 06 6988 3333 Nearest Metro stations Cipro–Musei Vaticani or Ottaviano. Buses us 23, 32, 34, 49, 81, 492 or Tram 19. Opening Hours Mar to – Oct 10am – 4.45pm Monday -Friday & Saturdays 10am -2.45pm Sat. Nov-Feb .10am-1.45pm Monday – Saturday. Note Last entry one hour and a quarter before the closing time. Free Admission: On the last Sunday of each month throughout the year between 9am-1.45pm. Closed on all Catholic holidays. Daily Admission Charges Circa €13; €8 students under 26 years.

Vatican Museums (Musei vaticani) website



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