The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City contains two of the world's most celebrated frescoes, "Genesis" and "The Last Judgment". The first is a set of Genesis-themed frescoes painted on the Sistine Chapel's high vaulted ceiling by the then young Michelangelo. He began the project in 1508 and finished four years later. His best known Genesis ceiling fresco depicts God creating Adam. Two decades later, Michelangelo painted "The Last Judgment" on the large wall behind the Sistine Chapel's altar. It took him six years (1535-1541) to complete it.
No direct entrance for visitors, you have to walk though Vatican Museum which takes ages and its RAMMED!! Its worth the visit though. I thought that after a while that it began to look the same, don't get me wrong its amazng but maybe it was how claustraphobic the who place felt or how long we'd spent standing around waiting for queues to go down - inside! I wouldn't fancy going here in the summer - it would be far to hot and sticky. The only way a tourist can reach the Sistine Chapel is through the Vatican Museums
I have not found an easy way to get reservations for the Vatican/Sistine Chapel. In fact the Vatican states specifically that they will not confirm reservations earlier than the night before your requested visit.
From the Vatican Web Site:
"ATTENTION : Reserving tickets at the Vatican can be very tricky. The current policy implemented by the Vatican consists of providing only and exclusively last minute confirmation. This means that you will not receive any answer -- positive or negative, confirmed or not confirmed -- until the evening before your requested tour. Since we understand this will be a cause of anxiety, we want to adamantly state that it will not be possible to have an answer prior to 7 pm (Italian time) the day before your requested tour."
Personally, your best bet is to arrive early at the Vatican and make the Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel), Vatican Museum (Museo Vaticano) your first stop. Visit St. Peters afterwards as there is usually little to no wait for entrance to the Basilica. There is a security check for both the museum and the Basilica, so be prepared.
Remember that shorts are not permitted in the churches in Italy. Not even the ones to your knee. And, you must cover your bare arms. If you are going in the heat of summer and wearing a sleeveless top, take a scarf or wrap to cover your shoulders. Sometimes this is relaxed, but it's better to wear pants or a skirt and pack a scarf than to take a chance of not being admitted.
Also, since the Vatican is a separate country you may want to mail postcards with the Vatican stamp and seal. Usually I write postcards the night before, while sipping caldo cioccolata (hot chocolate) in a café. Having these pre-addressed postcards ready to go makes it easier to drop them off at the post office the next day. TIP: The Vatican post office is just under the loggia as you enter/exit the Basilica San Pietro
Wanted by Pope Sisto IV della Rovere, which also gave it his name, was built by Giovannino de Dolci between 1475 and 1481.
Perugino, Botticelli, Signorelli and Ghirlandaio contributed to the realization of the artificial draperies in the style of 1400 of the walls.
The chapel was dedicated to the Lady of the Assumption and consecrated in 1483, but shortly after its modification was assigned to Michelangelo.
Michelangelo painted new episodes extracted from the book of the Genesis:
• Separation of light and darkness
• The Creation of the stars and the plants
• Separation of the land and water
• Creation of Adam
• Creation of Eva
• Original sin and expulsion from the Earthly Paradise
• Sacrifice of Noe
• Universal Deluge
• Ebriety of Noe
The most important work of Michelangelo was completed in 1512, and Giulio II inaugurated a second time the Sistine Chapel with a solemn mass.
In 1533 Michelangelo was again charged to modify the decoration of the Sistine Chapel by painting on the wall of the altar, at the place of some frescoes of Perugino, the Universal Judgment.
The Sistine Chapel is not only famous for the inside painting, but also for the roof.
A small part of it can be seen on the right flank of the basilica and from here the famous puffs of smoke announce the decision of electing a new pope.
A tour in the Vatican is not completed without a visit of Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is designed by Baccio Pontelli and built by Mino of Fiesole. It was named after Sixtus IV della Rovere as he had decided to built the chapel on the ground of the former "Cappella Magna" . He then dedicated it to Our Lady of Assumption. The room that you cant missed is the vault which was painted by Michelangelo. The last judgement is the painting cum room that you must see. While I was in the Chapel, I could not understand why people can just walked past these paintings so quickly and taking snapshots of everything and had understood pratically nothing. The place set me in awe and this feeling has not subsided. If only I could have the chapel for a day by myself so as to admire the artwork of the painters.
I visited the Sisting Chapel alone on my last day in Rome, I took the subway in the direction of the Ottaviano stop, and walked to the Vatican Museum. It was a cool October morning, and I had not had any breakfast so I decided to grab something along the way. Convenitently enough, right in front of the entrance to the Vatican Museum are kiosks or stands that sell pastries, coffee and drinks..as well as disposable cameras, postcards, etc. So..after realising that the queue into the museum was LOooonngG, I grabbed my snack and enjoyed the surroundings while waiting to get inside.
I must say, aside from the view from St. Peter's dome, the highlight of Vatican City is the Sistine Chapel. One is NOT allowed to take use any flash to take pictures so as not to destroy the paint. This is shown clearly upon entrance to the museum, and on the walls of the sistine chapel..Also, there are people who's sole job has been dedicated to warning tourists to NEVER use the flash (and yes, they get paid for this!!). Nevertheless, you'll find the few odd tourists that ignore the warning, whisk out their cameras and flash away..oh well..
The walls of this chapel carry it all however, with each wall telling its tale...from Moses to Judgement day...the colors, the detail captivate you and dazzle you. Michelangelo is a genuis.
However, be ware of the long long loooooong queues, and the fact that you'll neck will ache from lifting your head up to watch the ceiling ;)
The Sistene Chapel was conpleted by Michelangelo in only a little over 2 years. Incredible! The scenes are even more amazing in person, even with the dozens and dozens of tourist that they pack into the chapel. Look for the Pope's secretary, who Michelangelo did not like, painted as the lord of the underworld with donkey ears. Also look for the Saint who is holding his own skin. Some believe that the face on the skin was a self portrait of Michelangelo.
The Sistine Chapel got its name from the Pope Sixtuts IV, as it was built in his time. The most remarkable part of the chapel is its ceiling, painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti - with the creation of man in the middle. Michelangelo also painted the Final Judgement over the altar of the chapel. Despite the announcements not to take any pictures (in 10 languages or so), everybody tries to take a good shot of the paintings (more or less secretly) :)
1 April - 31 October: 8.45-16.45
1 November - 31 March: 8.45-13.45
"And Noah began [to be] an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. Ham saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren who were without. And Shem and Japeth took a garment, and laid it out upon both their shoulders, and went backward, covered the nakedness of their father, and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness." [Genesis 9:20-23]
Once again Michelangelo neglected the chronological sequence of the entire Noahs sequence, for Noah's offering should have come directly after the flood, and then the drunkeness of Noah. Currently the panel displaying the offering is before the flood.
Noah asleep and mocked by his sons is the last fresco that meets our eyes. It is said that Noahs sleep was due not to an overdose of wine but to human loss of spiritual memory; to the hypnotic sleep of man oblivious to his origin. The sons who stripped and ridiculed him do not know what they are doing and understand neither themselves nor their fate. The vat of wine in the centre dominates the entire scene.
As a footnote, whoever said drinking shortens lives probably didnt read the Old Testament. Noah is said to have lived a total of nine hundred and fifty years. :P Hic Hic Hoorray!
"And God said to Noah: 'I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; ... For in seven days I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground ... And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth" [Genesis 6:5 - 7:20]
How many times as kids have we heard the story of Noah and his ark? Well this scene depicts the flood in all its drama. Ever been in a shower for 40 days and nights? Well thats exactly what the artist was trying to capture here. The flood was considered to denote baptism, while the Ark was the symbol for the Church itself. Three different patterns of human behaviour are depicted here: the righteous take refuge in the Ark (the Church), the damned attempt to criticise it, and others are lost due to their excessive attachment to worldly things.
In the foreground of the fresco, people seek to flee from the threat of the rising waters by crowding onto the rocky islet on the right or by wearily climbing up to the high ground on the left. Amazingly, this deluge seems to be a dry affair, with not much water around. Michelo has concentrated on the plight of the figures, not the destructive forces of nature. This lack, noticeable in many of Michelangelo's drawings is a logical one. He sees all passion and torment, all toil and victory in human terms; for him it is not the event itself which is decisive but its effect on those who experience it, expressed in movement and gestures.
Umm in case you were wondering, Michelangelo's family name was .. nopes not Pavrotti, but Buonarroti. (yeah a real tongue twister :P) and he died around 89 years of age in Rome. Anyways time to stop digressing, back to the topic in hand!
"And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar." [Genesis 8:20]
This panel depicts a sacrifice, on an alter, giving thanks to the Lord for his salvation from the flood. In the centre of the background, Noah officiates the sacrifice wearing a blood-red tunic. The figures of the youth dragging the ram and the other taking out the intestines of the animals were painted by Domenico Carnevali around 1568, after the original figures were lost as a result of instability in the structure of the wall.
The work of assistants has been detected in the figure of Noah's wife on his right, and also in the one of the youth on the left (looks more like a lass) who, lighting the fire under the altar with a torch, shields his face from the heat with his hand. The sons of Noah as two athletic attendants, can also be noticed in the painting, more prominent than their father in the background.
This place was very unlike what I imagined. It was not round, which for some reason I thought it would be. It was not as light and luminous as I expected. As my husband put it - it is like an old town hall with the roof painted. He is an ass by the way!!!
PROS- You finally have seen it and can now rest. And thank goodness for those lovely young men walking around saying SSSSHHHH and SILENZIO!! If not, the whole place would turn into a calamity!
CONS - Thank goodness for the benches around the edge of the Sistine Chapel! Your neck certainly gets a workout!
The funniest thing that I heard about 3 times during our visit, was that because Michealangelo worked so close to the ceiling, he didn't get to see the painting in its entirity until it was finished - OF COURSE HE BLOODY DIDN'T - IT WASN'T FINISHED!!!
"And the God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs...And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman..."
According to the bible, God created man from the dust of the ground, then blew the breath of life into his body. Eve on the other hand was made from a rib of Adam, and that is the reason to this day there is a misconception that the man has one rib less than the woman, the truth being both share an equal number of ribs viz. 24. :)
In this panel, the Creator seems to have an intense gaze, and Eve appears to rise from the rocks behind Adam rather than from his body, extending her joint hands. The bodies of the couple appear to be those of adolescents. More is indicated here than mere physical creation: it is the concept of the female mirror-image drawn forth from the sleeping Adam.
I had read somewhere that the portraits of God as athletic, muscular, flowing beard and dominant are taken from the image of Zeus, the greek mythological God, but have found no further documents that backed this theory. If any of you have any good sites, please feel free to write in.
Michelangelo frescoed the ceiling for Pope Julius II between 1508 and 1512, working on specially designed scaffolding. The main panels, which chart the Creation of the World and Fall of Man are surrounded by subjects from the Old and New Testaments.
Considered to be the masterpiece of Michelangelo's mature years, the Last Judgment was commissioned by Pope Paul III Farnese in 1543. A new wall was erected which slanted inwards to stop dust settling on it. Michelangelo worked alone on the frescoe for seven years until it's completion in 1541. The painting depicts the souls of the dead rising up to face the wrath of God. The pope chose it as a warning to Catholics to adhere to their faith in the turmoil of the Reformation.
The 12 paintings on the side walls, by artists including Perugino, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli and Signorelli, show parallel episodes from the life of Moses and of Christ.
Photo's are not allowed inside but people do sneakily take them (me included!) as the surrounding are just shear magic. I was told by an American gentlemen that the reason behind this was that the Japanese had soul image rights as they paid for the restoration work in 1992/3. How true this is, I don't know.