It is normal to start to feel overwhelmed by the size, and amount of things to do at the Vatican Museums. You could easily spend hours in the Vatican Museum and still not see everything it has to offer. To make sure that you can have enough time to see as much as possible, book your entry to the museum ahead of time and skip the line at the Vatican Museums. This guide will tell you the top 7 things to see at the Vatican Museum to make sure your experience is complete in the limited time you have.
Named after Pope Pius VII, the Chiaramonti Museum is home to over 1,000 ancient sculptures. The Chiaramonti museum represents an important part in the history of the Vatican’s collections. Many of the sculptures were seized by Napoleon and taken to France in the late 1700’s. It wasn’t until decades later they were returned back and put on display.
CORTILE DELLA PIGNA
Cortile della Pigna, or the “Pinecone Courtyard” is a must see and a way to get some fresh air and take a break from being inside surrounded by people. Stepping outside you will see an enormous 4-meter high bronze sculpture of a pinecone with peacocks on either side. This courtyard is the only section of the original Belvedere Courtyard that is still open to the public. Even though the pinecone is the center of attention, another picturesque sculpture lies in the courtyard. The modern art of Arnaldo Pomodoro’s Sphere within a Sphere can be found.
GALLERY OF MAPS
On your way to the Sistine Chapel you walk through the Gallery of Maps. Based off drawings by Ignazio Danti in the 16th century, the hallway is lined with 40 ceiling to floor paintings. From the beautiful ceiling, to the detailed paintings on the walls, this won’t be a hallway you will rush through.
Forming part of the apartments of Pope Julius II (1503-1513), Raphael was chosen to decorate the walls and was given permission to erase previous work. The most famous fresco, or painting that can be found in Raphael’s four rooms is the “School of Athens”. This painting depicts the most famous thinkers, mathematicians and philosophers of the time. Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, and Socrates are just a few that can be spotted in the painting. If you are an art lover, make sure to read about other art attractions in Rome.
Located in the Pio-Clementine museum, the Sala Rotonda can be found. With inspiration taken from the Pantheon just miles away, there is different beauty that can be seen in this room. The floor is mosaics from the first decades in the 3rd century found at Otricoli and Sacrofano. On top of aìthe beauty from the floor and ceiling, statues line the wall.
The Sistine Chapel, or the most anticipated destination to see on your journey through the Vatican Museums. There are no words to describe the beauty and detail of the paintings by Michelangelo. There will be a lot of people in this Sistine Chapel, but don’t let this stop you from taking in what surrounds you. The works of art including the Last Judgement and the nine scenes of Genesis painted should not be rushed.
To make sure everything goes smoothly there are few tips that you need to know regarding the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is a holy place so make sure you are wearing the proper clothing before entering. This includes wearing long enough pants, and clothes that cover your shoulders. Unlike other parts of the museums, you are not able to take any pictures in the Sistine Chapel. This even includes taking pictures without the flash. There is no set time for how short or how long you can stay in the Sistine Chapel so find a place to stand and admire the beauty around you.
The paintings are on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel so they can be difficult to see. Before entering the Sistine Chapel there are panels that have the paintings by Michelangelo on them. You are able to see the small details that you wouldn’t otherwise have seen. You won’t be able to go back once you exit the Sistine Chapel so make sure you look at it before.
Inspired by the Bramante Staircase, as you enter or exit the Vatican Museums, you are able to walk on this unique design. The staircase is a double helix (like DNA), where visitors who walk on it, won’t pass the visitors going in the opposite direction.
With the tips and top destinations that were talked about in this guide, your visit to the Vatican Museums will be one of your favorite parts of Rome. This history and beauty that you are surrounded by is an unimaginable feeling. If you unsure what other places to visit, check out the two day Rome itinerary for more ideas.