Vatican Museums - Sistine Chapel, Rome

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    VATICAN MUSEUM - WORTHWHILE ?

    by breughel Updated May 26, 2011

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    500 m line at Vatican museum.

    No doubt the Vatican museum is one of the major multidepartment museums in the world but if you stay only a few days in Rome is it worthwhile to line up for nearly two hours to get in and fight your way through the crowd inside?

    A VT friend asked me why after visiting and commenting six Roman museums I kept silent about the Vatican museum (except showing the opening hours)?
    Well, my wife and I visited this museum around 1995. We waited 45 minutes in the rain, were very happy to get inside where it was dry but when we came out both of us felt somewhat disappointed. We had expected more!
    The crowd in the Sistine chapel had spoiled our pleasure and what we saw in the other parts was not extraordinary; we had seen similar works of art elsewhere under better conditions.

    Let me give you some examples about parts of the Vatican museum of which similar art works can be seen elsewhere without losing your time in long lines:
    1° Greek and Roman antiquities. You can see works of art as good in quality at the Museo Capitolino and Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps (without lines).
    2° Pinacotheca. Religious subjects by great Italian painters are very common in Italy. No need to line up during two hours to see some.
    3° Stanze (rooms) of Raphael. Yes this are great works of art. Now if your interest for frescoes is a general one, not specific to Raphael, there are many other frescoes to be seen in Rome. If you came for the frescoes of Raphael you have to line up.

    The "masterpiece", "chef-d'oeuvre", "capolavoro" of the Vatican is the Sistine Chapel for which there is no substitute. Therefore, at least once in our life, we line up in the rain or in the sun for 1 - 2 hours or pay a lot of money for a group visit or several hundred € for an individual guided tour.
    I would certainly visit again the chapel if some Monsignor would take me here on a private visit. As the probability for such favour is zero I read a good illustrated guide on the frescoes of Michelangelo. Something I would recommend to all visitors because the frescoes are at 20 m height, so that the details are not much visible.

    If it is your first visit to Rome, your only visit, you can not escape the lines. My photo shows the 500 m line starting at the Piazza del Risorgimento.

    To avoid the line one can now purchase the admission ticket at the online ticket office of the Vatican museums:
    http://mv.vatican.va or directly http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va
    Details to be found in my new tips on the subject.
    See also my tip "Opening hours and tickets 2011".

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    Vatican Museums

    by icunme Written Nov 2, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Vatican Library - manuscripts and rare biographies

    MORE DETAIL ON VATICAN CITY PAGES

    You can only hope to have enough time to see all the Museum sections.
    You will see people rushing forward to find the Sistine - best not to get caught up in that pace unless you are really pressed for time.
    You will miss much along the way - the Sistine will be there (unless, of course, you enter close to closing time - then, it may be there - without you!)
    There are areas where it is difficult to backtrack - some very narrow passageways leading to the next section - expansive rooms and then, courtyards which are a welcome respite if it happens to be crowded inside.

    Museums and Collections overview:
    Gregorian Egyptian Museum (look for the room containing the mummy)
    Near Eastern Antiquities
    Alexandria and Palmyra
    Antiquities from Palestine
    Room of the Assyrian relief sculptures
    Gregorian Etruscan Museum
    Antiquarium romanum
    Collection of vases
    Classical Antiquities (Greek and Roman)
    Pio Christian Museum (with the Christian and Hebrew Lapidary)
    Pinacoteca (picture gallery)
    Tapestries
    Ceramics (18th-19th century)
    Miniature mosaics
    Collection of Modern Religious Art
    Missionary-Ethnological Museum
    Museo Sacro (formerly part of the Vatican Library)
    Gregorian Profane Museum
    Vatican Historical Museum

    Vatican Palaces:
    Belvedere Palace
    Upper Galleries (Gallery of the Candelabra; of Tapestries and of Maps)
    Apartment of St. Pius V
    Sala delle Dame
    Room of the Immaculate Conception
    Raphael Stanze della Segnatura (considered Raphael's most aesthetically perfect work)
    (The entire floor here is Raphael so don't look for just one room as I did!)
    Room of the Chiaroscuri
    Chapel of Nicholas V
    Chapel of Urban VIII
    Sistine Chapel
    Borgia Apartment - 5 rooms: Sibyls - Creed - Liberal Arts - Saints - Mysteries - Pontiffs
    Salone Sistino
    Room of the Aldobrandini Wedding
    Lower Galleries (Urban VIII, Alexandrine, Clementine)

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    Online ticket office & alternatives.

    by breughel Updated Jan 28, 2011

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    The best approach to skip the often extremely long line is by purchasing the admission ticket at the online ticket office of the Vatican museums.
    http://mv.vatican.va or directly http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va

    The ticket gives the right to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel for the day of issue. Tickets may be reserved up to 60 days before the date of the intended visit (they are not refundable).
    For the purchase online an identity document, a credit card and names of all the participants is needed. Reduced prices for children and students are possible but not for seniors. A voucher with reservation code is sent back by e-mail to the visitor.
    The system is rather flexible. For details see their Help & FAQ on their website.

    If you could not prepare your visit in the above way and are facing a long line you might look for an alternative:

    If your interest is mainly for antique art you can see works of art as good, if not better, in museums like the Capitoline Museums (see here tips on Musei Capitolini) and the National museums at Palazzo Massimo and at Palazzo Altemps (see here tips at Museo Nazionale Romano). There are no lines and no crowds and entrance fee is lower.

    If your interest is for religious art you will find more than what you can dream of in the Papal Basilicas: Saint Peter of course, Saint Mary Major, Saint John Lateran and Saint Paul Outside-The-Walls. There is no queing in the three last ones (free entry). For details see here the tips.

    I realize that these alternatives leaving aside the Vatican museum are frustrating for overseas visitors who came to see an highlight such as the Sistine Chapel.
    On the other hand bad conditions of visit like inside the Sistine chapel spoil part or all the pleasure. Visiting my alternatives will make you experience some aesthetical plenitude.

    A very practical alternative for the Vatican museum, if you don't want to loose a half day in lining, is to take Metro A at Vatican museum towards Termini station.
    In the neigbourhood of Termini you find that real gem of Santa Maria Maggiore (opens at 7.00 h) and the Museo Nazionale Romano at Palazzo Massimo (opens at 9.00 h, closed on Mondays) a must for antique amateurs.

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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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    Opening hours & tickets in 2011.

    by breughel Updated Jan 25, 2011

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    The most visited museum of Rome is also the one with the longest lines and crowds.
    (That's why I wrote tips like: "Worthwhile?" and suggested alternatives when lines are extremely long).

    The VATICAN MUSEUM and TICKET OFFICE is OPEN from 09.00 h to 16.00 h from Monday to Saturday. The museum closes at 18.00 h.

    CLOSED on Sundays except last Sunday of every month, (free entrance from 09.00 to 12.30 h, closure at 14.00 h. Very long lines!)
    Closed on following feast holidays in 2011:
    January 1, 6;
    February 11;
    March 19;
    April 24, 25 (Easter);
    May 1;
    June 29;
    August 14, 15;
    November 1;
    December 8, 25, 26;

    The admission ticket to the Vatican Museums is valid for visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel only on the date of purchase. It is also valid for entrance to the Vatican Historical Museum and Noble Apartment of the Lateran Apostolic Palace if used within the five consecutive days from the date of purchase (included).

    PRICES 2011:
    Full 15,00 € (unchanged).
    Reduced 8,00 €.
    Scholastic Ticket 4,00 €.

    ONLINE TICKET.
    It is possible to avoid the often extremely long line by purchasing the admission ticket at the online ticket office of the Vatican museums.
    http://mv.vatican.va or directly http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va

    The ticket gives the right to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel for the day of issue. Tickets may be reserved up to 60 days before the date of the intended visit (they are not refundable).
    For the purchase online an identity document, a credit card and names of all the participants is needed. Reduced prices for children and students are possible but not for seniors. A voucher with reservation code is sent back by e-mail to the visitor.
    The system is rather flexible. For details see their Help & FAQ on their website.

    PHOTOGRAPHY.
    Works of art and surroundings may be photographed. No flash, no tripods.
    No photography or filming in the Sistine Chapel.

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    Free Sundays at the Vatican Museums? Don't do it!

    by Lacristina Updated Apr 30, 2008

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    Vatican Museum on Sunday Morning

    Or go VERY early.

    It sounds tempting, doesn't it? The last Sunday of the month, the Vatican Museums are open - and free! Saves you 14 euros per person; if you have a large group, it can add up. Well, that's exactly what all other budget-minded tourists and locals are thinking, too.

    Click on the photo and see what awaits you! My traveling companion had no other time but Sunday morning available to her. This is the Gallery of Maps around 11 a.m. on a Sunday, on the way to the Sistine Chapel. It is a RIVER of people. . . .no, a TORRENT of people headed to the Sistine Chapel. Occasionally you can work your way to an eddy on the edge so that you could actually stop and look at something, but it isn't easy. (The Egyptian Museum and Pio Clemente sculpture museum were a bit less crowded; the Etruscan Museum was virtually deserted.)

    If you're still determined to go, here's my suggestion.

    The Museums open at 8:45. Get in line by 7:30. No, I'm not kidding. I thought 8 a.m. would be early enough, but luckily Rome VT friend Abarbieri suggested earlier, and he was right. At 8, the line was huge, we couldn't see the end of it. At 7:30, we were only about 75 meters from the entrance. We actually got in around 9 and took two hours to see the other museums before I took the photo.

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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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    Touring the Vatican Museums

    by monorailgold Updated Feb 25, 2009

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    lined up all the way to St. Peters square

    With lines in the summer lasting as long as two hours, the Vatican Museums are one of the "must see" spots in Rome. One of the easiest ways to see the museums is with a guided tour. The Vatican offers guided tours to groups and individuals. An advanced booking of one week to two months will usually assure your spot. You can now book your tours directly through the museum at vatican.va. You can pick your date and time depending on what is available. You will be able to bypass the line outside and enter through the tour group entrance, the door on the right at the entrance. The cost for the guided tour is 30.00 euros and includes admission to the museums, guided tour and headset. The tour lasts about 2 hours and is very informative. I have done it myself and enjoyed it. You will be taken through the map and tapestries galleries, the Raphael's rooms, some classical antiquities and end in the sistine chapel.

    If you don't want to take a tour you can also pre-purchase museum entrance tickets at vatican.va. It costs 14 euros and allows you to bypass the line. You can pick your date and time on the website depending on what is available. If you don't want to pre-purchase tickets but don't want to wait in the line, just show up after noon. The line is very short or non-existent after lunch.

    The museum also has a restaurant, a currency exchange office, a post office, a first aide office and a cloakroom. You can reserve an audio guide for 7 euros in Italian, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. These audio guides are MP3 players with a headset. If you need a wheelchair they are available at the "special permits" window or can be reserved in advance by faxing 06.6988.1573. The admission fee for the museum is 14.00 euros. The museum is closed Sundays, except for the last sunday of the month when it is free and verrrrrry crowded. It opens at 9:00 and closes at 6:00 except on free Sundays when it closes at 2:00.

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    Vatican Museums - go there early

    by dongix Written Jul 17, 2006

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    A visit to St Peter's Basilica or the Vatican Museums (which are 1 kilometer apart) means standing in a long line (probably because of the security check at the entrance) so it is best to visit each place in separate days if you can. But if you really want to visit The Vatican in one go, it is best that you visit the museums first before it gets too crowded and then the basilica later.

    On visiting the Vatican museums, go there if you can as early as 8 or 8:15 AM. The museum opens at 8:45 but even before that, other visitors will be waiting by then. Arriving a little later than 8:45 will have you waiting for almost an hour (as in our case) so you can imagine how it will be when you arrive very late. Some areas of the museum could be too congested with tourists later in the day so that's another reason to be there early. But crowded or not, the Vatican museums never fail to amaze its visitors. It is always worth it.

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    Incredible Sistine Chapel

    by deecat Updated May 11, 2005

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    Sistine Chapel

    Not everyone who visits the Vatican is aware that it is a sovereign stateand has been since 1929. The Pope rules it as Europe's only absolute monarch! It includes St. Peter's Cathedral, The Vatican Gardens, The Vatican Museums, and the famed Sistine Chapel.

    I suggest that all of these be on your agenda for a visit. But, I strongly recommend the Sistine Chapel.

    Go early because you will, no doubt, have to stand in line. The last person to enter is at 1:00 PM. So, it's better to see it first and then see the Cathedral.

    Michelangelo did the ceiling for Pope Julius II, and it shows the Creation of the World and The Fall of Man. It was restored in the 1980s. I had a sore neck from looking up at it. Some people bring mirrors to make it easier!

    23 years later, Michelangelo painted the Last Judgementon the wall above the main altar. Some previous work had to be destroyed as well as a couple of windows to make the wall ready for the painting.

    It took Michelangelo seven years to complete this work. The Last Judgment is, I feel, more powerful. It shows the souls of the dead rising up to face the wrath of God. The Pope wanted it to serve as a warning to Catholics (during the time of the Reformation.)

    It also shows the "damned" who are hurled to the demons in hell. Charon who is the boatman who rows the people to the underworld in Roman Mythology is shown tossing people into the River Styx. It's interesting how these myths are mixed into scenes from the Bible!

    I can tell you this, when you walk out of the Sistine Chapel, you know for certain that Michelangelo was a genius.

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    Vatican Museum

    by Marpessa Updated Aug 22, 2006

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    Gallery of Maps

    To be quite honest the Sistine Chapel was not how I thought it would look, and even though the ceilings mural is very impressive, I enjoyed the corridors with their paintings, sculptures, mosaics and other pieces of artwork more. When you are in the Chapel you feel everyone is impressed and trying to be quiet (although those not being quiet will be shushed by the guards), but still I was more impressed by other areas of Musei Vaticani.

    The Sistine Chapel was built between 1475 and 1483. The most famous piece of art in the chapel is Michelangelo's fresco the Creation of Adam. Michelangelo also painted the Last Judgement, which is found over the altar in the chapel.

    But please, don't just shuffle through the long corridors to look at the Sistine Chapel. Take in everything around you as you walk along the long corridors and go from room to room to room. Especially, I liked the 'Gallery of Maps', a gallery that is 120m long and holds 40 large (and incredibly beautiful) maps of the changing regions of Italy through the centuries. The ceiling looks golden and has many incredible works of art (paintings) - it is also along this gallery that you look out the windows and get a nice view of St. Peter's Basilica.

    Admission (Museums and Chapel)
    Adult: EUR 12
    Reduced: EUR 8
    Special: EUR 4
    (check website for meaning of 'special' and 'reduced')

    Opening Hours
    (Generally - check website for specific dates)
    April 1 to October 31: 8:45am - 4:45pm
    November 1 to March 31: 8:45am - 1:45pm.
    Closed all Sundays and holidays.

    Although on the last Sunday of the month the museum is open with free admission.

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    Vatican City

    by GracesTrips Updated May 21, 2011

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    I know there are many tips written about the Vatican. I hope my tip will add some value and you will find some helpful information.

    There is a line to get into the Vatican whether you go on your own or opt to be included in a group tour. The line is EXTREMELY long but can move fast at times. Reservations is highly recommended. Depending on the tour you choose and your guide you may not have to wait in this line/queue. We were fortunate not to have to wait in line. We paid quite a bit for the individual tour (info below) which was well worth it!

    Below is the link for the official website of the Vatican where you can buy tickets and obtain other information about your visit. Ticket prices range from €15.00 to €269.00 per person depending on if you purchase just an entrance fee or opt for an exclusive guide for a tour. There are also group tours you could join and you could selectively have a tour of just the museum, the gardens, St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel, as well.

    We have opted for an individual guided tour. If we had purchased this option through the official website, the cost for two people would have been €546.00 or US$786.00. Whew! That is a lot of money! Instead, we booked our guided tour from this website (recommended to us by friends):

    http://www.sit-italy.com/

    The cost of our 4+ hour individual guided tour cost us €320.00 or US$449.50. This was a huge savings and definitely something to consider if you opt for a guided visit.

    Our tour quide, Sandra, spoke English fairly well. She was quite knowledgeable and took us to see all the main points of interest at the Vatican. Towards the end of our tour, I asked if we could enter the crypta and she noticed a huge line/queue to enter it. She asked a guard if there was another entrance we could take and they said yes. We went through an obscure staircase down and no line! Vatican City is huge and there is sooo much to see. Just amazing! If you visit Rome, Italy and have not been to the Vatican, this is a MUST DO! One drawback is the number of tourists that are there. They don't seem to regulate how many people are in any particular area of the Vatican so it can be cumbersome.

    DRESS CODE is strictly enforced. Shoes are required. Men are to wear long pants and shirts with sleeves. Women must have their knees and shoulders covered. Long skirts or dresses are okay as long as it covers the knees. NO SHORTS. Paper pants are available for purchase along with T-shirts and scarves in the souvenir shops outside of St. Peter's. The dress code used to pertain to St. Peter's Basilica only but now applies to St. Peter's Square (the dress code in Thailand to visit a temple was much stricter).

    Remember, Vatican City is a sovereign country regulated by it's own laws outside of Italy.

    It was suggested to me to exchange money at the Vatican because I would get a good rate with little to no fees but I couldn't find where this was done. It turned out, just withdrawing money from the correct ATM (Bank of America partners with) was the best exchange (no fees).

    Vatican City has their own post office. Many people like to send their postcards from there because you will use a Vatican City stamp and postmarked from there. I didn't have the time to do this because upon on first day in Italy was our tour of the Vatican.

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    Cappella Sistina

    by ruki Written Sep 10, 2005

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    Built between 1475 and 1483, in the time of Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere, the Sistine Chapel has originally served as Palatine Chapel. The chapel is rectangular in shape and measures 40.93 meters long by 13.41 meters wide, i.e. the exact dimensions of the Temple of Solomon, as given in the Old Testament. It is 20.70 meters high and is roofed by a flattened barrel vault, with little side vaults over the centered windows.
    The architectural plans were made by Baccio Pontelli and the construction work was supervised by Giovannino de' Dolci. The first Mass in the Sistine Chapel was celebrated on August 9, 1483.
    The wall paintings were executed by Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli, Luca Signorelli and their respective workshops, which included Pinturicchio, Piero di Cosimo and Bartolomeo della Gatta.
    Michelangelo Buonarroti was commissioned by Pope Julius II della Rovere in 1508 to repaint the ceiling; the work was completed between 1508 and 1512. He painted the Last Judgement over the altar, between 1535 and 1541, being commissioned by Pope Paul III Farnese.

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    Vatican Museum: Sth you haven't heard before!

    by salvamea4545 Updated May 31, 2007

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    Even if you are not Catholic, I firmly recommend everyone to come into the museum. It is simply stunning!

    Here is one tip I didn’t read anywhere and it might be useful. There is no doubt the best way to go into the Vatican museum (and probably every single museum in Italy) is with a tour. BUT the tour only last about hour & 1/2 and it’s for sure you wont be able to appreciate everything. So here is my advise: if you could dedicate an entire day to this museum (or at least a whole morning) , pay for the tour, as you can get in earlier than thousands of people (this is literally: when I left the Vatican, the line was probably 1000 people!) after you get into the Vatican, skip the tour, do it on your own. I know it sounds silly to “waste” the explanation from the tour guide but..TRUST ME, if you are well informed, you could do it by your own and have the museum virtually for yourself at least for the first few hours.
    PS/ don’t rush into the Sistine chapel as it will be impossible to get back into the museum after you reach it! The chapel will be there at the end of your tour. Even if you are the first or the last person, the chapel will always be SUPER CROWDED!...so..what's the rush??

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    The Sistine Chapel

    by dongix Updated Jul 26, 2006

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    The Sistine Chapel is probably the most important reason for your visit. And if that's the case, go there directly once you entered the Vatican Museum. You can always go back to explore the other parts of the museum later once you had your fill of Michaelangelo's masterpiece. The Sistine Chapel is best enjoyed with a lesser crowd - another reason why you have to be at the Vatican Museum early.

    For parents with kids, it is allowed to bring the stroller inside. Just be prepared to carry your child as there will be stairs along the way. And by the way you're not allowed to take pictures (or videos) inside the chapel. Well I took mine secretly that's why it's out of focus. Sometimes, being crammed among other tourists has its advantage.

    A little piece of history. The Sistine Chapel was built between 1475 and 1483 in the time of Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere. The first Mass was celebrated on August 9, 1483. The wall paintings were done by Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli, Luca Signorelli and others.

    In 1508, Pope Julius II della Rovere commissioned Michelangelo Buonarroti to repaint the ceiling and completed the work between 1508 and 1512. The Last Judgement (over the altar) was painted between 1535 and 1541, commissioned by Pope Paul III Farnese.

    Here's an interesting trivia. Over the years, the paint became darker because of the soot accumulated from the burning candles. Michelangelo being a genius and a forward-thinker probably anticipated this and so he did something really clever. He inverted a very small piece of stone from the painted ceiling. Years later when the authorities did an extensive examination to determine the state of the frescoes and the ceiling, they noticed a blank or unpainted piece of stone. Puzzled, they removed it and discovered the other side was painted. That gave them the idea of how the colors would have looked like during Michelangelo's time. And of course they restored the frescoes and preserved it back to its "pristine" state.

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