Visiting the Vatican Museum:
The Vatican Museum has over 1400 rooms and is the largest museum complex in the world. Within the Vatican Museum there are galleries with 3,000 years of art, the irresistible attraction of Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms and parts of the papal palace all in all and many galleries of sculpture, tapestries and frescoes. To see everything inside the Vatican Museums would be a definite feat, as the rooms that comprise them collectively stretch a staggering 9 miles (15km) around Vatican City. Because of the vastness of the museum it’s wise to take a guided tour.
The museums are closed Sundays and holidays although the last Sunday of the month is free.
The Sistine Chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere (pontiff from 1471 to 1484) who had the old Cappella Magna restored between 1477 and 1480. It served as both the pope’s private chapel and the venue for the election of the new pope by the cardinals. The layout of the complex means that the Sistine Chapel is likely to be the last sight you’ll see. Michelangelo painted the famous ceiling frescoes, with the central scenes depicting creation and the story of Noah, and decorated the altar wall. Biblical scenes on the walls were created by several famous artists, including Perugino and Botticelli.
Saint Peter’s Square and Basilica:
Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the largest churches in the world. The basilica is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and is famous as a place of pilgrimage, for its liturgical functions. The Pope presides at a number of services throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Vatican Basilica, or in St. Peter’s Square. Entrance to the church is free but visitors must be properly dressed, with no bare knees or shoulders.
Saint Peter’s Basilica is open daily, 7AM – 7PM (until 6PM October – March). Masses, in Italian, are held all day on Sundays.
Vatican Museum TIPS:
Myth or no Myth. “Skip the Line” tickets to the Vatican. It’s a common used marketing ploy now days with various tour companies in Rome. And actually there is truth to it, however I’ll tell you what they do and how YOU can do it to avoid the major line which wraps around the Vatican walls starting at 9 in the morning. Buy your ticket online from the official Vatican site (http://www.vatican.va/) . Usually you will have to buy the ticket at least the day before (as they sell out) and choose a time range to show up. You must then arrive at that time walking past that massive line and into the right hand door which is for TICKETHOLDERS : ) Inside though due to security checks (much like an airport – so dress smart like you catching a flight, including) you will have a minor line to wait in. Maybe 20 minutes or so. Beats the 2 or 3 hour line outside though. That’s all the tour agencies do! Of course they also provide you with great knowledge and entertainment (hopefully).
Do a tour in the afternoon. The line is a lot smaller in the afternoon and you can just line up outside and usually be inside within 20 minutes. You should enter no later than 3pm as it closes around 6pm. Also there are unofficial guides that have “gatherers” gathering tourists for them outside near St Peters or near Piazza del Risorgimento. They will initially approach you offering a guided tour for €45 or so. I’m telling you now they will down to €35. This usually includes the entrance ticket (check!) €35 is a fair price and I totally recommend doing a tour. Arrive around 2pm and start haggling!
There’s so much beautiful, amazing art and history to look at (over 1400 rooms) that you will be overwhelmed if you try do by yourself. Do a tour – It’s a no brainer. You can thank me afterwards by “liking” this article 😉 or leave a comment.
Happy Travels : )