Vatican Museums - Sistine Chapel, Rome

4.5 out of 5 stars 57 Reviews

00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

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  • Vatican Museums - Sistine Chapel
    by anilpradhanshillong
  • Vatican Museums - Sistine Chapel
    by brendareed
  • Vatican Museums - Sistine Chapel
    by brendareed
  • no1birdlady's Profile Photo

    Visit Sistine Chapel in Vatican Museum Complex

    by no1birdlady Updated Sep 5, 2005

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    Touring the Vatican Museum, you pass through Papal Rooms and chapels with magnificent paintings by Raphael mostly. From here you step into the Sistine Chapel. It's the main chapel in the Vatican Palace. It was named Cappella Sistina after its founder Pope Sextus IV. The walls were painted by some of the finest artists including Perugino, Botticelli, and of course, Michelangelo. Then you look up at the magnificent ceiling done entirely by Michelangelo. It took him 4 years to complete it and it's all fresco. He painted it lying on his back on a scaffold. The subjects are from the Old Testament except for the Classical Sibyls who he put here because it was said that they prophesied the birth of Christ. This is something I have wanted to see since I first saw pictures of it when I was a teen. It was cleaned not too long ago so is much more colorful than first thought. It was covered with a lot of soot from years of candles as well as dirt. Even standing side by side with a crowd of strangers, it was so quiet and everyone was in total awe. Amazing. No photography is allowed so this picture is a post card I bought.

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    the Sistine Chapel

    by brendareed Written Jun 2, 2014

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    This is the primary destination for most people visiting the Vatican Museum and it will be crowded – just prepare yourself now for that fact since even on slow days, the chapel is full of people. First of all, the chapel is not that big and it is THE place everyone seems to want to be. So prepare to be squished and lose that sense of personal space for the duration of your visit (make sure your valuables are safely tucked away from anyone who may want to get them). The crowds begin long before the chapel itself as people are all funneled into the Gallery of Maps to await their time in the chapel.

    Once in the chapel, take some time to just be amazed. If you are lucky and can find a seat along the wall, grab the opportunity (it helps to be able to put your head on the wall as you look up). Take some time to just soak in the ceiling and the craftsmanship. Consider how Michelangelo painted the ceiling – there is some controversy on whether he stood and painted or laid down on the scaffolding as he painted. Either way – it was a tough job for a guy that would rather be chipping at marble than dabbling in paints!

    The paintings reflect the beginning of the world from the book of Genesis – separation of light and dark, creation of land, moon, sun; God giving life to Adam, the flood and Noah’s later drunkenness. Along the sides of the ceiling are paintings of the prophets and sibyls with scenes from the Old Testament in the corners.

    After you have looked at the ceiling, look towards the altar at the magnificent Last Judgment, also painted by Michelangelo many years after the ceiling. It reflects a difference in attitude for the artist, painted after the sack of Rome and the start of the Protestant Reformation when the Catholic Church was facing attacks. This is a solemn piece – no one is happy in it, including those that go to heaven. The creatures that pull the people into hell are creepy. And Michelangelo put a self portrait into this piece – he is the flayed skin being held by St. Bartholomew in the center right of the painting.

    After you have admired all of Michelangelo’s work, be sure to take some time to look at the rest of the paintings that go around the walls. These were done by Perugino and others before the ceiling was done. These depict scenes from the life of Moses and the life of Christ.

    NOTE: The picture of the Last Judgment was taken from Wiki Commons. It is within the common domain and has no copyright attached to the photo. I did not take this photo.

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    the Sistine Chapel: Last Judgment by Michelangelo

    by brendareed Updated Jun 2, 2014

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    After marveling at the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, look towards the altar of the room and notice the very large fresco on the wall. This painting was done by the same artist that did the ceiling – the 61 year old master Michelangelo. Times have changed since he did the ceiling at the age of 33: Rome has been sacked and the Counter Reformation has altered religious life. Michelangelo was a devout Catholic and it appears the events of the Church took a toll on his view of life. Perhaps he was also older, wiser, and a bit apprehensive of what happens after death now that he’s closer to that end of his life. The Last Judgment is darker and creepier compared to the light, bright ceiling overhead.

    The painting was commissioned by Pope Clement VII and represents a common scene in religious artwork: the final judgment of the dead with the good going to Paradise and the bad going elsewhere. Typically, the good are on the right hand of Christ and the bad are on His left. This fresco follows this standard. Untypical to other works, when Michelangelo painted this work, he created most of the figures nude, including the Supreme Judge, Christ. Obviously this caused quite a stir in the Church, so what you see today is the modified version of Michelangelo’s work: after the artist’s death Pope Pious IV had draperies painted over the offensive parts of the painting.

    The story is told by biographer Vasari that the pope’s master of ceremonies berated Michelangelo so heavily about the nudity that the artist memorialized the man in this painting – Biagio da Cesena can be found above the door on the far right side of the altar (the lower right corner of the fresco) – he’s the guy representing Minos (judge of the underworld) with the donkey ears and a serpent covering up his genitals with his mouth.

    Michelangelo also created a self portrait in this fresco, albeit it is a rather eerie one. Look to the lower right of Christ (from your viewpoint) and you will see St. Bartholomew sitting on a cloud looking back at Christ. In his hand is the flayed skin (St. Bartholomew was skinned when martyred) and a knife. The skin in his hand is Michelangelo. Perhaps this is a powerful key to what Michelangelo was thinking at this point in his life – note he placed himself on the left side of Christ.

    This is a somber work – no one, not even those on their way to Paradise – are smiling. Christ appears as a muscular and frightening Judge and even Mary, on Christ’s right side, is looking timid. The Last Judgment is a powerful painting and worth some time to admire while in the Sistine Chapel (and you don’t get that crick in your neck like you do when admiring the ceiling!).

    NOTE: The photo of The Last Judgment was taken from Wiki Commons and is in the common domain; there is no copyright attached to this photo. I did not take the photo.

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  • anilpradhanshillong's Profile Photo

    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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  • Frisbeeace's Profile Photo

    Sistine Chapel

    by Frisbeeace Updated May 28, 2003

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    Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508 to repaint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. 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.

    It was somehow difficult to admire the work of Michelangelo standing in the crowd until we were able to sit on the side of the chapel and examine the ceiling thoroughfully.

    The Ceiling

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  • paradisedreamer's Profile Photo

    Sistine Chapel

    by paradisedreamer Updated May 27, 2003

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    In 1508 Michelangelo was asked to create his most famous work, the ceiling frescos of the Sistine Chapel.
    To reach the high, vaulted ceilings, Michelangelo had a tall network of scaffolding. Every day he would climb the to top of it and lay flat on his back and begin work. He divided the ceiling into nine panels, each showing a scene from the Old Testament, beginning with the Creation.
    It took 4 years to complete, he returned to the Sistine Chapel in 1534 where he created the Last Judgement, another fresco on the blank end wall. He later designed the Dome for St. Peter’s and the Capitoline Square.

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  • After Hours Vatican Museum Tour

    by sleds Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The guide and I sat on a bench in the Sistine Chapel -- under God reaching out to Adam. We were alone, the 15 other people on our tour stood at the far end of the Chapel listening to the other guides. We were the only people in the room. The Chapel was quiet, befitting its status as a church. We were on an after hours tour of the Vatican museum arranged by Helen Donegan of Italywithus.com.

    Quietly the Guide explained Michelangelo's feud with the Pope who hired him to do the ceiling and refused to pay when it was done. She pointed out the unflattering face of Pope Paul III's assistant in the Last Judgment and the painter's face on the hide St. Bartholomew is carrying. We saw the scorch mark on the beautiful Cosimatti marble floor from the stove that sends out the white smoke.

    While the Sistine Chapel was the highlight, we saw hall after empty hall. Maps on the walls, early world globes, artifacts from Pompey, papal vestments, the Raphael rooms -- quietly and without hassle, we saw it all in awe and amazement!

    Last year I read about Helen's tours, but they were fully booked. I tried to find others who provided after hours Vatican museum tours. One travel agent promised a tour for 5,000 Euros. Well beyond what we could afford, I contacted Helen again. She emailed me the 2007 tour dates. Off we went.

    Our group of 16 had 5 guides, 4 of whom give daily tours during regular hours. Three guards accompanied us. The one we walked with pointed out special things, he was clearly proud of his job and the Vatican's amazing collection of treasures.

    My husband and I are well-traveled, but this after hours tour is a highlight of our globetrotting: seeing the Vatican museum when no one else was there -- priceless.

    The current 2007 rates are 250 Euros per person. Follow these links for some reviews of this amazing experience.

    http://slowtalk.com/groupee/forums/a/tpc/f/862600685/m/5861077731?r=5861077731#5861077731

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20810630-5002031,00.html

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  • tinyvulture's Profile Photo

    Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

    by tinyvulture Updated May 29, 2004

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    You've got to walk through the Vatican Museums before you reach the Sistine Chapel. Along the way you get to see cool famous works of Renaissance art like Raphael's School of Athens. They also have the Laocoon and Apollo Belvedere but we somehow missed the Greek room. Their guide signs are kind of weird; they point out shortcuts to the Sistine Chapel and I guess we mistakenly took a shortcut.
    Once you get to the Chapel, you cannot take photos, even without flash. Guards walk around yelling SILENCIO! NO PHOTO! In addition to Michelangelo's masterpieces, the ceiling and the Last Judgement, the paintings on the side walls are very cool too. Some are by Botticelli and Perugino, but everyone seemed to be ignoring them and staring up at the ceiling. Try to sit on one of the benches along the wall and you will be able to hang out for awhile and contemplate the entire chapel.

    Vatican Museums courtyard
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  • Jmill42's Profile Photo

    Sistine Chapel

    by Jmill42 Written Feb 8, 2006

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    On of the greatest works of mankind lies within the Vatican's walls, the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo produced this wonderous work and then was brought back to paint the entry wall's depiction of Judgement Day. Recently restored to its original splendor, it is something that will amaze you and also give a serious pain in your neck! While it is offically forbidden to take pictures, you can see that its not too strictly adhered to, or policed.

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  • guell's Profile Photo

    The Sistine Chapel

    by guell Updated Jun 25, 2003

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    Pictures don't do this room justice. This is really a "must see" activity! Maybe that's why the guards don't let you take any pictures. I took this picture from the hip and WITHOUT FLASH, so no damage was done from my part. As far as the crowd was concerned, having been only three weeks after the 9-11 attacks, this was a very light day.

    For a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel and the museums go to the web site below.
    .

    Guard:

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    The Art

    by BruceDunning Updated Nov 18, 2007

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    The entry hall going into the Sistine Chapel is painted by many understudies of Michelangelo. They took over 20 years to paint the ceiling and walls. Besides those most beautiful artworks are a veritable number of statues and decorated furniture. You could easily spend 2-3 hours looking at all the treasures. Then-you are led into the Sistine Chapel, with the largest painting yet on one wall, and ceilings painted with so many specialty touches that it boggles the mind. The Michelangelo wall of heaven and hell holds so much to stare at and study.
    The biggest problem is there are also around another 1,000+ people feeling the same way in a cramped space. That definitely detracts from all the beauty one can see.

    Typical ceiling painting painting of depth perception showing sculpting In St. Peter's BAsilica-sculpted figure of Pope The alter dedication Mother of Fertility outside
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  • klasher's Profile Photo

    "No Photo, No Video"

    by klasher Written Apr 23, 2008

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    So you want to see the Sistene Chapel?? You must go through the entire Vatican Museum to see the highlight at the end of the tunnel. When you reach the Pope's personal chapel-there will be a very strict man in the room yelling repeatedly "no photo, no video" And my husband was quite embarrassed when I was nearly thrown out of the Chapel for discretely (or so I thought) taking a quick video sweep of the ceiling.

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  • kmohandas's Profile Photo

    SISTINE CHAPEL- TREASURE OF MASTERPIECES OF ART

    by kmohandas Updated Mar 25, 2008

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    The Sistine Chapel was commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV in 1475 as Pope’s Chapel. It still continue to be the Pope's Chapel and the papal elections are held here. The Sistine Chapel was consecrated and dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin on August 15, 1483.
    In 1481 the Florentine painters Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli summoned to Rome by Pope Sixtus IV. Perugian Pietro Perugino were asked to decorate the walls with frescoes. Luca Signorelli may have also been involved in the decoration. The fresco project took only 11 months from July 1481 to May 1482.
    The Sistine ceiling was originally painted by Piero Matteo d'Amelia. In 1508 AD Pope Julius II Della Rovere asked Michelangelo to repaint the ceiling. Michelangelo was not happy about this as he had considered himself a sculptor. and was contemptuous of Fresco painting. These paintings ultimately became a master piece and his most well-known work.

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  • anilpradhanshillong's Profile Photo

    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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    The Vatican

    by tompik Updated Sep 24, 2006

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    Okay, so I was raised in the Catholic tradition, in an Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, and find myself on the rooftop of a convent overlooking St. Peter's Square awaiting the famous puff of white smoke annoucing a new Pope to the world. Looking across St. Peter's, I imagined the college of cardinals sitting in the Sistine Chapel below Micheangelo's ceiling. I wouldn't get to see the Sistine Chapel on that trip, but it was our first stop on our next trip.
    Looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, using my prescription progressive lenses to magnify the distant Michelangelo masterpieces, I thought next time bring binoculars. In my mind's eye, Charleton Heston and Michelangelo were one and the same person. Now I was standing under the actual work of the actual person,not the Million Dollar movie fantasy. My impression of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was chaos; a chaotic swirl of interplay between God and man, man and nature, events, all melded into one.
    Why Chaos, I thought? The ceiling was quite geometric, scenes painted into rectangles and arched triangles, triplets of boxes in rows, interupted only by symetrical pointed arches. Viewed as photos, or on a television set, the viewer sits stationary as the scenes are displayed in an orderly fashion by the rotation of the camera. However, experiencing the ceiling as a spectator in the chapel, it is the viewer who moves. First back and forth, then side to side, around in a circle, and before long you are spinning like a top on your own axis. The chaos, I came to realize , is not in the painting on the ceiling, but in experiencing it first hand as a spectator. Perhaps the only still point visually is the space between God's finger and Adam's. There for a moment your eyes rest.
    I followed the rules and didn't take any pictures in the Sistine Chapel. Check out the web site below for an interesting interactive experience of the ceiling.

    Also not to be missed at the Vatican Museum are the Raffelo rooms.

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