Vatican Museums - Sistine Chapel, Rome

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    08-Vatican-Sistine Chapel-1-Intro

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Sep 24, 2013

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    Nothing quite prepares you for the magnificence of the Sistine Chapel. You may have heard a lot about it, read copious amount of literature on it, taken a virtual tour of this relatively small room measuring only 132 ft. (40.23 m) length, 44 ft (13.40 m) breath and 68 ft (20.70 m) height from the official website of the Vatican Museum. But when you do finally set foot on the chapel, you’ll still gasp at the wondrous achievement of Michelangelo.

    The small side entrance from which you come in, does not quite prepare you for the paintings from the ‘Book of Genesis’ on the ceiling or the equally opulent paintings on the walls. When you do collect your breath and turn around, you simply gaze in awe at the huge Final Day Judgement painting above the altar and, perhaps, feel a sense of dread. Yes, the Sistine Chapel is a working religious place that requires the sanctity associated with a place of worship.

    The Sistine Chapel derives its name from Pope Sixtus IV and his dream project of building a structure in the place where the 'Cappella Magna' once stood during the Middle Ages. He intended it as a court room for the Pope. The place would also double up as refuge from the powerful Medicini family of Florence as well as from the onslaught of the Turks.

    Construction on the project began in 1475 and ended in 1483. It was formally inaugurated by the Pope and dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. It is from this room that the College of Cardinals elects the new Pope, the earthly successor of St. Peter. The architect was Baccio Pontelli, who, some suggest, used the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, destroyed by the Roman in 70 AD, as his model.

    The room is divided into the cordoned-off altar area, the main area and a smaller area with two steps separating the latter two areas. You have to be careful not to trip on these steps as you keep gazing at the paintings. There are seating arrangements along the walls, except in the altar portion. The intricate mosaic floor, intact today, dates back to the 1400's. Arched windows provide the only light into this Chapel.

    While photography is usually banned, on this particular evening it was allowed and so ask before you shoot.

    First Written: Sept. 22, 2012

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    The Vatican Museums Marathon

    by goodfish Updated Feb 23, 2013

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    Laoco��n, the piece that started it all
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    The Vatican Museums have one of the world's largest collection of sculpture, art, paintings, artifacts, etc. There are 4 miles of this stuff, including the the Sistine Chapel, to feast your eyes upon - IF you can get in and IF you can handle the crowds. The good news since our 2007 visit is that you may now pre-book tickets on the Vatican website that allow you to skip that queue and hop right into the security-check line. I strongly recommend doing that as, without a pre-purchased ticket in your miserable little hand, you might otherwise stand in the rain or the heat for hours during high season.

    Your other option is to book a tour, which we did on our 2007 visit. Ours was through an independent company, lasted about two hours, and hit some of the highlights but only covered a fraction of the collection. Tours, as part of a group or individually, are now available through the Vatican website and you may choose from a variety of themes and prices. I would recommend at least one of these for the first-time visitor as navigating your way through the vast collection and bewildering one-way routes can be an exercise in frustration. At the very least rent an audio or buy a printed guide so you know what you’re looking at as pieces are not well labeled. Do not sign up for any tours offered by individuals hanging around outside the museums, OK?

    The other good reason for a tour is that most of them end up at the Sistine Chapel - which usually allows for direct, backstairs access into St. Peter’s basilica. The chapel is at the very farthest end of the museums - about a 30-minute walk from the entrance - so it’s a long haul back if sightseeing on your own. That stairway is for tour groups ONLY and while some guidebooks will tell you that it’s possible to sneak out this door by pretending to be with a group, I'm reading that many of the guards have become cranky about that so don’t count any chickens there. You’ll also have to return to the entrance to return audio guides or collect any items you had to check.

    A note about the Sistine: I’d seen it before restoration in 1973 and was looking forward to seeing it all cleaned up in 2007. We were dismayed to find people herded in shoulder-to-shoulder with guards and loudspeakers barking reminders that talking, filming and taking photos are forbidden. Too many people did all of that anyway - which just made the warnings louder and more frequent. All-in-all, not a quality experience. FYI: the photo ban is because a Japanese company that paid for a good share of the restoration holds the copyright to Sistine imagery.

    No, there are no tickets JUST for the Sistine.

    Pack along a small hand mirror to make exploring the ceiling less of a pain in the neck.

    The museums really need to initiate some crowd control as it’s ridiculously mobbed in high and shoulder seasons. To make the experience bearable, don’t go on Mondays (when the Italian state museums are closed), the once-a-month ‘free’ days, or during any major holiday weekends - especially Easter. Book tickets or tours for early or later in the day, or just show up at those times to see what the queue looks like. This is not a good activity for small children; they’ll be crabby and miserable in the crush. Another option? Skip it altogether in favor of Galleria Borghese: a terrific collection in a fascinating villa with excellent crowd control.

    I'm enclosing the Vatican website with hours, fees, ticket and tour-booking procedures, rules and regs and other info - which may occasionally change so check back often. St. Peter's dress rules (no bare knees or shoulders) apply to the museums as well, and you cannot enter the museums from the basilica: the entrance is on Via Vaticano, a 10-15 minute walk from the church depending on your speed.

    http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/MV_Home.html

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    Musei Vaticani, Part XI, Braccio Nuovo

    by von.otter Written Jan 20, 2013
    Musei Vaticani, Braccio Nuovo, May 2007
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    “We are prepared to go to the gates of Hell, but no further.”
    — Pius VII (1741-1823, ruled 1800-1823, his condition while attempting to reach an agreement with Napoleon)

    Pius VII decided in 1806 to build the Braccio Nuovo, following the return of many works of art under the 1797 Treaty of Tolentino. Napoleon was responsible for shipping off to Paris the art work. Antonio Canova (1757-1822), Inspector General of the Antiquities in the Holy See, advocated for the construction of a gallery to showcase the Vatican’s Classical sculpture collection.

    The new wing, a masterpiece of Neo-Classical design, was designed by the Roman architect Raffaele Stern. The new wing was unveiled in 1822.

    The ancient floor mosaics (see photos #4 & #5) date from the second century A.D.; and were found during excavations near Tor Marancia, a suburb of Rome.

    Amongst the 150 sculptures that can be seen in the Braccio Nuovo is Augustus of Prima Porta (see photo #1), discovered in 1863 at the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta, near Rome.

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    Musei Vaticani, the Pine Cone Courtyard

    by von.otter Updated Jan 18, 2013

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    While visiting the Vatican Museums take a refreshing break by stepping out into the Cortile della Pigna (the Pine Cone Courtyard). It takes its name from the bronze pine cone dating from the first century AD.

    Following the Italian practice of recycling architectural elements, this 13-foot tall bronze has led several lives around the Eternal City. First it was a fountain in the Campus Martius, in the area that is still known as Pigna. Next, it was used as a fountain in the courtyard of the original St. Peter’s Basilica. Finally, it came to its present location, but not as a fountain this time, during the reign of Pope Julius II.

    The arched niche was designed by Donato Bramante (1444–1514). Bramante also designed the Vatican Museum’s Cortile del Belvedere in 1506.

    This courtyard was famous for its Renaissance tournaments of knightly jousting.

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    08-Vatican-Sistine Chapel-5-Southern Wall

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Sep 21, 2012

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    In the opposite south wall (right of the altar), the first fresco is the 'Trail of Moses' (1481-82) by Sandro Botticelli. Moses is the figure in the golden-yellow robes. He is shown killing an Egyptian with a raised sword and then fleeing in the bottom right of the painting. In the centre, he gives water to the sheep, on the top left corner, God gives Moses the task to free the Jews from the clutches of the Pharaohs, while on the left, Moses is shown leading the Jews to the Promised Land.

    Next is 'The Crossing of the Red Sea' (1481-82) by Domenico Ghirlandaio where the dominant element is the closing of the Red Sea over the pursuing Pharaoh’s army after the Moses and the Israelites have crossed. In the right background is Moses pleading with the Pharaoh to let his people go. A faint rainbow from the centre of the painting represents the promise of liberation of the Jews. On the left is Moses with the saved people.

    'Descent from Mount Sinai' (1481-82) by Cosimo Rosselli shows Moses kneeling and receiving the Tables of the Law, Moses bring these Tables to the Israelites, the golden calf which the Israelites prayed to during the long absence of Moses, Moses breaking the tablets in anger, Moses receiving the new Tables of the Law. In the right foreground are two winsome ladies, a temptation the painter could not resist.

    The next fresco is the 'Punishment of the Rebels' (1480-82) by Sandro Botticelli. The painting depicts God's punishment to Korah and his accomplices for rebelling against Moses. Also, it shows God's displeasure towards Korah, Dathan, and Abiram by afflicting them with plague for objecting to the destruction of Korah.

    The 'Testament & Death of Moses' (1482) by Luca Signorelli and Gatta shows Moses receiving the authority to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, then descends from Mount Nebo to perform his duty. In the middle right is Moses reading from a Holy Book and speaking to the multitude. In the left foreground, we see Joshua with the baton, the successor of Moses, kneeling ready to take on the onerous duty. Behind and further up to the left is a shroud which covers the dead Moses.

    First Written: Sept. 22, 2012

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    08-Vatican-Sistine Chapel-2-Magnum Opus

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Sep 21, 2012

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    It was left to Pope Julius II to invite Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) to create his stupendous painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, a work that took four years of intensive labour (1508 to 1512) and has the history of mankind, before the coming of Christ, as its theme. Though only 8,611 sq. ft. (800 sq. m), the ceiling is Michelangelo’s masterpiece and one of the most important painting in the world. The paintings complement as well as expiate the stories taken from the Bible and represented in the side walls.

    The gist of the paintings on the ceiling depicts the prophecies that adumbrated the coming of Christ, the interminable wait of humanity for this great event and the creation of the world. The first part has scenes of humanity's wait for Christ and the stories dealing with the deliverance of the people of Israel. The second part depicts the seven prophets who foretold the coming of Christ. The third part is in the central section of the ceiling and deal with the Creation, the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Noah.

    As Goethe said: "Without having seen the Sistine Chapel, it's not possible to have an idea of what one man is capable of doing".

    First Written: Sept. 22, 2012

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    08-Vatican-Sistine Chapel-4-Northern Wall

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Sep 21, 2012

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    Leading painters of the time like, Botticelli, Cosimo Rosselli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Signorelli and Umbria, decorated the side walls of the Chapel with various episodes taken from the Bible. Along the northern wall (left of the altar), the first painting is the 'Baptism of Christ' (c. 1482) by Perugino. The River Jordan flows along the centre of the painting touching the feet of Jesus and of John while a dove (Holy Spirit) flies above Jesus. In the background, the Pantheon and the Coliseum can be seen.

    The next is 'The Temptations of Christ' (1480-82) by Sandro Botticelli which depicts the 'stones to bread' challenge of the Devil to Christ, the 'fling down from the cliff' challenge and the 'Get thee from behind me' response of Christ to the Devil. The leper healed by Christ is in the foreground of the painting.

    'Vocation of the Apostles' (1481-82) by Domenico Ghirlandaio is the next fresco which depicts Christ calling Peter (yellow robe) and Andrew (green), who are kneeling, to follow him. Behind is Christ again on the shore calling out to James and John who are in the boat. There is also a motley collection of bystanders on both sides of the screen.

    Next to this is the 'Delivery of the Keys' (1481-82) by Perugino which shows Christ handing over the key of the kingdom of Heaven to St. Peter while the other Apostles and others look on. Judas is the fifth figure behind Jesus on the left. His countenance is dark in comparison to the others. The artist has given depth to his painting through the use of converging broad lines in the background while the distant trees, hills and the limitless horizon, suggest infinity. The poses of the figures on either side of the painting complement each other.

    The 'Last Supper' (1481-82) by Cosimo Rosselli shows Christ with 11 disciples on one side of a table facing the viewer, while Judas sits alone with his back to us. The halos of the 11 disciples are golden-coloured while that of Judas is dark. Also, a black-coloured Satan may be discerned sitting on the nape of Judas. The artist captures the Apostles’ moment of incredulous reaction when Christ foretells them that one of them will betray Him to the Romans. The three paintings of the prayer at Gethsemane, the capture of Jesus by the Romans and His crucifixion, dominate the higher area of this fresco.

    First Written: Sept. 22, 2012

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    08-Vatican-Sistine Chapel-3-Last Judgement

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Sep 21, 2012

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    In 1532, twenty years after he had completed painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo was again commissioned, this time by Pope Clement VII, to paint the far end wall above the altar. The painting is inspired by the Book of Revelation and the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri and depicts a scene where the few are chosen and the rest damned to perdition.

    This 48 ft. by 44 ft. fresco, done between 1536 and 1541, will grab your attention easily. The ceiling may, perhaps, be more scintillating but after a while your neck starts hurting. This fresco, on the other hand, allows you to watch it at a more comfortable angle. To facilitate matters, it angles out from the top not only to prevent dust from settling on it but also to give it a proper perspective as well as sense of three-dimensionality.

    Just below the left arch, at the top of the painting, there are the Cross and the Crown of Thorns and the Nails. Below the arch on the right hand side are the Column used for the scouring, the Stairs, the Spear and the Sponge. These are all the symbols of the intense suffering (passion) of Christ.

    Below that is the central figure of Christ, right arm raised as He decides on the fate of humanity, condemning many to Hell and saving the souls of a few. The Virgin Mary is to His right, face turned away as if indicating non-participation in His decision. The pose of Christ is reminiscent of the Belvedere statue, earlier in the Vatican, a pose that the famed painter was particularly fond of. To the left, we see St. Andrew, with his back to us, holding his cross. John the Baptist is the muscular figure next to him who is looking at Christ. To the left is the figure of St Peter holding the keys to heaven, a golden one in his left hand and a silver one in his right. The face of this figure is supposed to represent Pope Paul III.

    The saints are shown with the instruments used for their torture leading to their eventual martyrdom. Just below the right foot of Christ, sits St. Lawrence holding a frame of parallel metal bars like a gridiron signifying his martyrdom of being hauled over hot coal. Next to him and near the left foot of Christ is St. Bartholomew (same Belvedere statue pose), who holds his own skin in his left hand and a knife in his right hand. This is symbolic of his torture of being flayed alive. The painter painted his own portrait on this skin, perhaps to show his own unworthiness, his cynicism, his world-weariness, an expression of his tormented soul. Further on to the right, St. Blaise is depicted lying down and holding the iron combs used for his torture, St. Catherine is shown with a wooden arch with iron teeth while St. Sebastian is shown with a sheaf of arrows in his left hand.

    In the third and last section of the fresco, which is also the bottom part, the colours are darker, the misery intense and the desperation acute. In the centre, we have the angels waking up the dead from their deep slumber through their trumpets. Archangel Michael reads out the names of souls to be saved from a small book while a larger volume to our right, contains the names of those condemned to Hell. This could indicate the painter’s view of how sinful the people in this world are. Next to this is a man attempting to cover his eyes as if unable to witness the terrible events unfolding before him, his face a study of intense trepidation. On his left is a swirling mass of figures as they hurtle towards eternal damnation. On the extreme left of the painting, at the same level, fewer figures are shown as they rise towards Heaven and are saved forever.

    Below the trumpeting angels, Charon, a boatman from Greek mythology, is seen raising his oar to drive out all those condemned from his boat and send them on their way to hell. He is mentioned in the 'Aeneid' of Virgil as well as the 'Divine Comedy’ of Dante. To the left of the wall painting is the resurrection of the dead. Not to be missed is the bitterness and revenge of the great artist in the personification of Baigio da Cesena, a papal master of ceremonies, in the figure of Minos, one of the three judges of the underworld. He is depicted on the bottom right hand side of the fresco, entwined by serpents with a snake biting his genitals. Apparently, the Master of Ceremonies had roundly criticised Michelangelo’s 'Last Judgement' for its numerous nude figures and suggested that the fresco was better suited to a tavern than to a holy place. An apocryphal story goes that when Baigio complained to the Pope about this unceremonious depiction, the latter pleaded helplessness saying that the Pope had no jurisdiction over Hell.

    http://www.italian-renaissance-art.com/Last-Judgement.html
    http://www.italian-renaissance-art.com/Michelangelo.html

    First Written: Sept. 22, 2012

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    LaCapellaSistina

    by Pawtuxet Updated Sep 19, 2012

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    L to R = Me, Daughter Susan & Son Christopher

    There are many courtyards and fountains all around at the Vatican.

    We walked and walked - ooowed and ahhhhed, then we giggled, blinked, and walked some more. What a great time we had in the Vatican and all over Rome.

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    Musei Vaticani, Part IV, The Laocoön

    by von.otter Updated Jul 6, 2012

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    Laoco��n, Vatican Museums, May 2007
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    “By these, we descended into the Vatican gardens, called Belvedere, where entering first into a kind of court, we were showed those incomparable statues (so famed by Pliny and others) of Laocoön with his three sons embraced by a huge serpent, all of one entire Parian stone, very white and perfect, somewhat bigger than the life, the work of those three celebrated sculptors, Agesandrus, Polydorus, and Artemidorus, Rhodians; it was found amongst the ruins of Titus’s Baths, and placed here. Pliny says this statue is to be esteemed before all pictures and statues in the world; and I am of his opinion, for I never beheld anything of art approach it.”
    — John Evelyn, “Diary and Correspondence” 18.January.1645

    Sculpted by the Greek, Hagesandrus of Rhodes, and dating from the second century BC, the marble sculptural grouping known as Laocoön stands in the Belvedere Courtyard in the Vatican Museums.

    One January day in 1506 Pope Julius II was told to that some excellent sculptures had been dug up in a vineyard near San Pietro in Vincoli. The Holy Father sent Giuliano da Sangallo, his principal artist, to see what was found; Sangallo invited Michelangelo to go along. They had scarcely dismounted their horses when both agreed that the discovery was the Laocoön.

    The extraordinary sculpture, which was unearthed in what had been Nero’s Domus Aureus, Golden House, would have a profound influence upon Michelangelo. He stated that he had always wanted to make violent muscular movement expressive of something more than physical strength. In the Laocoön group he had found an example from classical art.

    The sculpture tells the story of the death of Laocoön, the Trojan Priest of Apollo, who had incurred Athena’s wrath. Together with his two sons, he was crushed to death by serpents after Laocoön had voiced the opinion that there was something fishy about the Trojan Horse, and that the Trojans would be better off not to take it into their city.

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    Musei Vaticani, Part V, The Canova Gallery

    by von.otter Updated Jul 6, 2012

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    ?Perseus? Vatican Museum, May 2007
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    “Soon after his return to Rome, appeared the ‘Perseus’ of Canova. It was a grand and classical production, and was called ‘II Consolatore’ (the consoler), because it appeared at a time when Rome was mourning the plunder of her galleries and museums. In 1802 Canova presented to Italy the celebrated group of ‘Creugas and Damojcenus,’ which was, like the ‘Perseus,’ purchased by the papal government and placed in the Vatican.”
    — from “The Saturday Magazine” of London, 16.January.1841

    The Neo-Classical genius Antonio Canova (1757-1822) carved his two muscular boxer/wrestlers, Creugas and Damoxenes about 1800; they are now grouped with “Perseus with the Head of Medusa” and all three stand in the Belvedere Courtyard of the Vatican Museums.

    The Vatican’s version of “Perseus with the Head of Medusa” (see photos #1 & #2) was completed in 1801; it predates the one owned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art by three years.

    The story behind Creugas and Damoxenus is as follows. Competing in the Ancient Greek Nemean Games, Creugas (photo #3) and Damoxenus (photo #4) struggled until dusk without a decision. At this point, climax was declared in which each fighter was to strike the other, without resistance, until one submitted.

    The striker was to instruct his opponent which posture to assume prior to hitting him. Through the drawing of lots, Creugas delivered the first blow, a powerful punch to the face. Upon weathering the attack, Damoxenus then requested that his foe raise his left arm. He then struck his adversary with his open fingers to the ribs in a spear-like thrust, killing him instantly.

    That ended the match!

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    Musei Vaticani, Part VII, Antinous-Braschi

    by von.otter Updated Jul 6, 2012

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    Antinous-Braschi, Vatican Museums, May 2007
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    “He fell into the Nile.”
    — Emperor Hadrian’s diary record of Antinous’s fate, October AD 130

    This beautiful example of Hadrian’s beloved, Vatican Inventory #540, was found in April 1793 at one of Hadrian’s villas in present-day Palestrina, what the ancient world knew as Preaneste.

    It was near-perfect condition when found; only the legs had been broken, but otherwise it was hardly scratched. It is thought that it was hidden about the time of Constantine the Great in the early fourth century.

    Giovanni Pierantoni restored it between 1793 and 1795. Pope Pius VI made a gift of it to his nephew the Duke Luigi Braschi-Onesti (1745-1816). Ownership of the work has given it its name, the Antinous-Braschi, since the end of the 19th century.

    While the French occupied Rome, beginning in 1798, they appropriated the work as their own but it never left Rome, and it was returned to Duke Braschi-Onesti around 1801. Pio Braschi-Onesti, Luigi’s son, sold it to Pope Gregory XIV in 1843, who put it on display in the Lateran Museum, which opened in 1844. In 1863 Pope Pius IX saw that it was moved to the Sala Rotonda of the Vatican, where it can be seen today still.

    Located in one of the niches of the Sala Rotonda at the Vatican Museum the colossal sculpture of Antinous bears the attributes of Dionysos: a crown of ivy, a head band, a mystical cistus, and a pine cone.

    See von.otter’s Rome Thing-To-Do Tip “Monument to Hadrian’s Young Favorite, Antinous” to see the obelisk Hadrian erected to the beautiful Antinous.

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    Musei Vaticani, Part Ia, Its Ceilings

    by von.otter Updated Jul 6, 2012

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    Vatican Museums, Wood & Gilt Ceiling, May 2007
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    “If you wish to be brothers, let the arms fall from your hands. One cannot love while holding offensive arms.”
    — Pope Pius VI (1717-1799)

    Begun with Ancient Roman sculptural work collected by Pope Julius II (reigned 1503-1513) the Vatican Museums are at the very top of the world’s museums.

    The popes opened their art galleries to ordinary citizens in the late 18th century, and were the first among European rulers to do so, promoting awareness of art, history and culture to the general public.

    The first major museum within the Vatican was the Pio-Clementine Museum. It was named for its patrons Pope Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pope Pius VI (1775-1799). The museums and their treasures grew throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

    When you visit, be certain to look up. Ceiling frescos, carved wooden ceilings, and elaborate stucco work on the ceiling in many of the galleries, not only the Sistine Chapel, are extraordinary works of art.

    Here is a tip that can help ease the strain on your neck from looking up for prolonged periods, bring a mirror with you and look down at the reflection.

    Some of what you will see when you up: frescoes showing St. Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine, with the True Cross (see photo #2) and St. Francis of Assisi being blessed with the stigmata (see photo #5).

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    More than "The Ceiling"!

    by Donna_in_India Updated Apr 11, 2012

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    Inside the Vatican Museum, Rome
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    We had breakfast at a café before heading to Vatican City and the Vatican Museums. The line to get in the museums was pretty short and after going through security (now expected at museums, churches, etc.) we picked up our audio guide. We like these better than guided tours because we can go at our own pace. On that day there were about 20 sections of the museum that were open to explore.

    You can become a little dizzy looking at all those paintings, sculptures, etc., but you can always find something interesting. I loved the Egyptian room with the mummies, and the huge Map Room with an amazingly beautiful ceiling.

    Of course the star of the museum is Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel). It took him four years to paint the ceiling – segments from the Bible- the most famous portion (and my favorite) being the “Creation”. Bring binoculars to examine the ceiling.

    Be respectful of the signs - if it says NO FLASH, make sure you know how to turn yours off. If it says NO PHOTOS, DON'T take photos.

    There is a nice little cafe right across from the entrance/exit of the museum. They serve really good pizza and cappuccino and are not as expensive as you would think.

    Souvenirs are sold all around the museums and St. Peter's so you'll have plenty of opportunities to shop around.

    Tickets are available online and since this is one of Rome's most popular attractions, I'd suggest buying your tickets online. Proper attire is required for entrance to the Museums. Allow a few hours to explore.

    Check the calendar on the website to see what days the Museum and Sistine Chapel are closed. Entrance is free the last Sunday of each month, which means it will be very crowded.

    Otherwise entrance is Euro 15,00.

    Open Monday to Saturday: the Ticket Office is open from 9 am to 4 pm. The Museums close at 6 pm.

    All visitor information is correct as of this writing.

    ** For several months each year (usually May - October) the museum is open Fridays from 7.00 to 11.00 p.m. Online booking is REQUIRED for Friday nights at the museum.

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    Vatican Museums - Amazingly Commercial!

    by zadunajska8 Written Oct 23, 2011

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    Courtyard in the Vatican Museums
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    The exhibits within the Vatican Museums are simply amazing and so because of these it would be impossible for me to rate the place as any less than very good. It is a "must visit" place at least once. In fact it's not just the exhibits, but also the building itself which are worth seeing.
    We visited on the day before the monthly "free" day (last Sunday of the month is free admission) becuase it was our last day in Rome. This may have explained the absence of the queue to get in as most tourist were probably waiting to go in free on the next day. The extent of the queue barriers did give us an idea of just how long the queues might get at times! We paid 15 euros to get in each and 7 euros each for the audio guide. You do need the audio guide as there are little if any descriptions of the items on display as you go around the museum. The audioguide was probably the best we had in Rome.
    Clearly the key attraction bringing most people is the Sistine chapel and the presence of the large and noisy tour groups pushing quickly forward to reach that goal does ruin much of the rest of the museum for others. Most of these people don't even seem to be looking around them as they march onwards. That is their loss. It does mean however that some of the 'side' exhibitions which are not on the direct path from entrance to sistine chapel are much more relaxed places to visit, such as the Etruscan section.
    The sistine chapel is one of those places most people want to go and see in their lives but it is suprising how small and dark it is after what you see on TV. Impressive all the same. It was a little amusing to see the signs as you go into the chapel telling people that it is a sacred place and asking for silence as the tours groups and their guides totally ignore this and so the Vatican has people who walk around the chapel saying "shhhh" all day. It doesn't work of course, which is a shame as the experience would undoubtedly be better if it were peaceful in there.
    The Rafael rooms were, in my opinion, just as impressive as the Sistine Chapel and there is a very interesting display of modern art in the Bogia apartments.
    What I had not been expecting was just how commercial the place is! Every few rooms you seem to be deposited into another gift shop. Some of the stuff seemed very tacky to me (Golden statues of the pope etc) but I suppose some people must like it or they wouldn't sell it.
    The caffeteria is very noisy but not any more over priced than most of central Rome. The staff here did seem particularly grumpy and disinterested in their jobs though, although this did start to become a theme as we went round the museum.
    During the last 2 hours of the day the tour groups start to disappear and so it becomes much easier to properly view and enjoy the exhibits so don't leave until you've made good use of this time.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits
    • Architecture

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