A Tour of The Vatican Museum

Vatican City or the Holy See and independent city located in the heart of Rome. It’s the home of the Pope. The sacred place in Christendom. St.Peters Basilica the worlds holiest catholic shrines. This is where St.Peters one of Jesus disciples was executed in Rome and buried here where the Basilica stands today. 

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What to Expect at the Vatican

The Vatican is the most visited museum in the World. The Vatican was originally the Pope’s palace. Approximately 30,000 people each day visit the museum. Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world, an independent country. It was founded in 1929, after a treaty with Mussolini. Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century. The Vatican started to be recognised as the seat of the Catholic Church when St.Peters Basilica began its construction in the 4th century. The Basilica was constructed over St.Peters grave. The interior of the Vatican is breathtaking. The museum contains ancient artwork, Roman Baroque and including the world-famous Sistine Chapel. 

Booked your ticket in advance: 

To save yourself time, it is recommendable to book your ticket in advance. The wait to get into the Vatican Museum can get frustrating. The museum is large it is advisable to join a tour guide.  

When to Visit: 

There are no days to avoid the crowded tourist at the Vatican. Dates around the weekend can be a lot busier. However, you might want to consider Tuesday or Thursday. You may also notice early morning can be much more crowded as most people tend to get there as early as possible including tour groups. However, in the afternoon it gets slightly better.

*Avoid visiting on Wednesday as the Papal Audience is held and  is held in Saint Peter’s Square, know that Saint Peter’s Basilica and is normally close until (around 12-1 pm.)

Dress Code:

To enter the Vatican’s holy sites such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, you’ll need dress appropriately. Avoid wearing shorts, tank tops, and mini skirts. Items such as short-sleeve t-shirts and skirts are fine as long as they cover the knees and shoulders. 

The highlights of Vatican City (St. Peter’s Basilica,Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel

I would suggest starting early is the best way to avoid the large crowd at the Vatican Museum.We bought our ticket directly from the Vatican which will give you skip the line access to the Vatican Museums. With over 7 kilometres of art galleries, The Vatican Museums has some of the finest Renaissance masterpieces, including the Gallery of Maps and Bramante’s Belvedere Courtyard. The Vatican museum is huge and there are loads to see. It can take you several hours wandering around the museum. Try to spend a few hours or even half a day in the museum. You won’t stop taking pictures. This is where the famous Sistine Chapel is, Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square), and the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica.

 Pope Julius II in the early in the 16th century founded the museum. The Sistine Chapel is the main attraction inside the Vatican museum. It’s ceiling decorated by the most famous Michelangelo.

11 Must-See Highlights of the Vatican Museum

Table of Contents

Tips

Make sure it’s not Wednesday or Sunday since the Pope has open masses on those days and you will have to wait for him to finish (at least 4 hours) before you are allowed to enter the basilica

They have a strong dress code in the Vatican city. Avoid tank tops or shorts or bring a scarf/shawl to cover yourself.

When to Visit

The Vatican opens Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. On the last Saturday of every month it opens from 9 a.m to 12:30 p.m. the Museum opens from 10 a.m to 6 p.m For more information check the Vatican website.

Rome ,vatican city

The Helical Staircase

As you enter the museum the first thing you see is the spiral staircase designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1832. This amazing double helix helical spiral staircase leads you outside the Vatican Museums. This staircase is impressive. Do not forget to take pictures.

Pinecone Courtyard

Cortille della Pigna created by Publius Cincius Salvius. It was made out of bronze in the 1st or 2nd century. On both sides of the pine cone is a bronze peacock. The pinecone shape has been associated with spiritual enlightenment that resembles the brain’s pineal gland and the“third eye”. One of the most impressive courtyards of the Vatican Museums. The Fontana della Pigna is 4 metres high and was once a Roman fountain.

Laocoön

Loacoön in Greek legend means seer and priest of the god Apollo. The Laocoön statue was lost during the fall of the Roman Empire. The sculpture depicts such an important and emotional figure. The Lacoön is a marble sculpture from the Hellenistic Period. Laocoön was a Trojan priest of Apollo in Greek mythology, associated with Troy. The sculpture depicted the Trojan priest and his two sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus attacked and killed by sea serpent sent by God. I’m sure most of you have heard the fall of Troy and the Greek’s God who tried to hide their soldiers inside the “Wooden Gift Horse” as a symbol of peace. The story is during the Trojans war. Laocoön attempted to warn the Trojans about the Greek wooden horse was a trap. Athena and Poseidon favoured the Greeks and therefore sent the two sea serpent to kill him and his two sons.

The Maps Room

If you love history and geography, along the itinerary leading to the Sistine Chapel, you will find the suggestive Gallery of Geographic MapsThe gallery contains a series of painted topographical maps of Italy. These maps, based on drawings by the Dominican Monk Ignazio Danti. The maps are very detailed, You can get a glimpse of what the world was thought to look like centuries ago. You will find lands on the Tyhrennian Coast on the left and lands on the Adriatic Coast on the right. Undoubtedly to me, the artwork on the ceiling was more visually interesting. 

The Tapestries Hall

The Vatican Gallery of Tapestries is surely one of the most astonishing.  painted by the brilliant artist, Raffaello Sanzio. You need to look up, The ceiling looks like a plaster 3-dimensional design. Our tour guide explains it very well. The beautiful tapestries on the wall belong to two different periods and manufacture. The twelve Raphel tapestries on the left as you enter depicting scenes from the life of Christ and the tapestries on the left showing the life of Pope Urban VIII.

Raphael was a contemporary of Michelangelo and worked in the Vatican. The same time Michelangelo was painting the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.

In 1514, when Raphel was only 31, he was commissioned by Pope Lep X to design the 12 tapestries depicting the life of Christ. The most remarkable Raphel tapestries being the Resurrection of Christ.
The twelve tapestries depicting the life of Christ are hung in chronological order where the first six showing us the childhood of Jesus.

Apollo Belvedere

Apollo is a god in Greek and Roman mythology, the son to Zeus and Leto. The Apollo Belvedere and the Belvedere Torso had a major influence of the Renaissance Arts. The figure represents the Greek god Apollo after his defeat of the serpent Python using a bow and arrow. The beauty of the statue is as impressive as ever. A masterpiece of ancient sculpture.

Rapheal's Transfiguration

The Transfiguration was the last work of Raphael and he died before he could finish it. The Transfiguration was one of his greatest masterpieces. The painting relates to the story of the transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor. Jesus is seen on the top of Mount Tabor surrounded in an aura of light and clouds. Next to Christ is Moses on the right and Elijah on the left. Jesus raises his arms and looks up towards God. Below Jesus is three of his disciples. At the bottom is darkness where the apostles are struggling to heal the sick boy. You see one of the disciples pointing towards Jesus on the top of the mountain.

The Rotunda Room and Porphyry Basin

The Porphyry Basin, also known as Nero’s Bath, dominates the Neoclassical room of the Rotonda. This circular Hall was built under Pope Pius VI plus the floor is made up mosaics from around the 2nd century. It is simply remarkable.

Raphael's School of Athens

The rooms were built by Pope Nicholas V in the mid-1400s and were later to become Pope Julius II’s private library after the School of Athens was completed. In 1508 Pope Julius II hired Raphael to paint a room called the Stanza della Segnatura.  It’s one of the most famous paintings in the Vatican Museums besides Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel. The rooms are located a few steps away from the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Cathedral. 

 The most famous room was Pope Julius’s study and library room called the Segnatura and the first room Raphael painted. The paintings represent Theology, Poetry, Philosophy, and Justice. Raphael also included himself in the painting with Plato. In the centre talking to Aristotle has Leonardo Da Vinci’s face and he is the second figure from the lower right corner.

The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is one of those places which is beyond explanation. Erected in 1473-81. The Sistine Chapel’s frescoed ceiling painted by Michelangelo is of High Renaissance art. The most famous part of the Sistine Chapel is the series of paintings by Michelangelo on the ceiling.“The Creation of Adam”. The most famous scene is the Creation of Adam, showing God reaching out to touch the fingertip of Adam. One of another great masterpiece of Michelangelo in this room is The Last Judgement

The painting shows the second coming of Christ on the Day of Judgement (Revelation of John.) Though this is one of the world’s most famous pieces of art, for Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel was so unpleasant that Michelangelo wrote about his misery while painting at the Sistine Chapel. He’d thought he was done with painting and thought of himself primarily as a sculptor and not a painter.

We spent half an hour inside the chapel. You can feel this whole energy of light and positivity surrounding you. Walking out the chapel this whole feeling of life and energy gives you such a positive feeling.

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jazgotthoughtsjaz
September 5, 2020 3:50 pm

thanks for sharing, i reminisce my time when i went to that museum.

sydneyduleba
September 5, 2020 4:47 pm

I visited the Vatican last summer and I loved it! This is a great, comprehensive guide!

Rachel
Rachel
September 6, 2020 3:49 pm

Your pictures are so beautiful and I love the design on your site. I also found the information so useful because it’s very important to remember everything, especially the dress code when visiting religious sites. Great article. Thanks!

millionmilermom
September 8, 2020 6:59 pm

Great tips! And I love the way you have presented the info – very eye-catching!

Jennifer
September 8, 2020 7:04 pm

This is definitely one of my places to visit. I love the tips to make the visit pleasant. Especially the dress code. You wouldn’t think visiting a place dressing appropriately would matter when you are vacation but every country has their own culture and you can easily offend without intent and realizing it. 🙂

Steph
September 8, 2020 8:17 pm

Great post and fantastic pictures. This will be really helpful when I visit Italy. Thanks

Saptarshi
September 8, 2020 9:44 pm

Very informative blog and great pics too! Loved the way you explained the historical facts.

-UrgeToXplore -
-UrgeToXplore -
September 8, 2020 10:14 pm

Oh wow ! Great photos and wonderful presentation.

Jamie Sharpe
September 10, 2020 2:31 am

I can’t wait to go back to the Vatican!

Daniella
September 10, 2020 5:42 pm

Your content combined with those vivid photos really transports you to the destination – thank you!

sarahbanwart
October 15, 2020 4:38 pm

I have never seen a blog laid out like this and it is absolutely gorgeous! I didn’t know half of this about the Vatican and look forward to implementing this knowledge when we visit next summer! Saving this for then. Thank you!

Mihaela
October 15, 2020 5:48 pm

I visited Vatican a few years ago. Now it’s probably the best time to visit, with shorter queues. But what a great way to retrace my steps to all the places you mention. Such a nice imaginary visit!

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