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Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

  • Vatican City, Lazio, Italy

Last updated: 07 April, 2024

This complex of museums, in the home of the Catholic Church, are mind-bogglingly opulent. They’re home to one of the greatest hoards of treasure, antiquities and art anywhere.

Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo’s extraordinary Sistine Chapel is arguably the world’s greatest masterpiece, and the start of the show here. No single artist before or after has ever equalled his powerful vision: the ceiling (1508-12), painted for Pope Julius II, surrounding the famous scene of God creating man, and the much darker, harrowing vision of the Last Judgement (1534-41).

Gallery of Maps

This astonishingly beautiful gallery, located on the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard, features a series of painted topographical maps of Italy, painted over three years by Danti in 1580.

Pio Clementino Museum

Housing Greek and Roman sculptures; most are copies of lost ancient originals, notably The Apollo Belvedere and Laocoon, which are the stars of the Pio Clementino Museum.

Two original spiral stairways designed by Bramante in 1505 are located on the other side of the museum can be tour by special arrangement.

Gregorian Profane Museums

Superb Etruscan, Greek and Egyptian works fill the Gregorian museums. Large marble fragments from the Athens Parthenon and mosaics from the Baths of Caracalla can also be seen.

The Pinacoteca

Paintings by Giotto, Leonardo, Titian and Caravaggio fill the Pinacoteca (art gallery) along with a single, rare work by Leonardo da Vinci depicting St Jerome in the desert. There’s also a room entirely devoted to Raphael, that includes his The Transfiguration.

Borgia Apartments

These wondrous papal apartments, frescoed by Raphael (including the School of Athens), take their name of Spaniard Rodrigo de Borja y Doms, who was elected as pope following the death of Innocent VIII. Consisting of six monumental spaces, today the Borgia Apartments house part of the Vatican Museums’ Collection of Contemporary Art.

Logistics

Price from: £15
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Cipro-Musei Vaticani is the nearest metro station.

The queues at the entrance are horrendous; book a time-dated ticket online and print out a voucher. If you haven’t booked a ticket, get there before 9am when the ticket office opens and sprint straight to the Sistine Chapel to avoid the worst crowds (then work your way back through the museums).

Once you’re inside, there are four colour-coded itineraries taking in the most popular collections: the shortest (to the Raphael rooms and Sistine Chapel) takes 90 minutes. You can also book onto official guided tours in English or Italian of the main museum highlights, or the mystery-laden ‘Hidden Vatican Museums’. https://tickets.museivaticani.va/home

To get into the Vatican Museums, both men and women must have their knees and shoulders covered, no matter how hot it is. The dress code is strictly enforced. The sheer scale of the museums (over 7km in total length) can be exhausting; wear comfortable shoes.

When to do it

The museums are open all year round, Monday to Saturday. Closed Sunday – apart from last Sunday of the month, when the museum is free. Wednesdays are the most crowded days, so avoid if possible.

If you’re doing St. Peter’s and the museums on the same day, visit the museums first as the wardens begin hurrying people round from mid-afternoon.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • Rome

Spend more time inside with no-wait access to the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Basilica through an official Vatican partner entrance. On this comprehensive guided tour, you'll experience the best of the Vatican in just three hours, including the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, and more. Navigate the vast complex of artwork and history with an expert, who will bring this ancient collection to life. Choose from several departure times and languages.

Price €73

Min age 0

Rating 4.50 / 5 [31331 ratings]

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  • Rome

Effortless and Swift, our Skip-the-Line tours and tickets offer timed-entry access to the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. Simply join us at a specified meeting point near the entrance of the Vatican Museums to effortlessly redeem your tickets and receive valuable advice. Alternatively, rendezvous with your guide and embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey, immersing yourself in some of the world's most exquisite art. For a more intimate experience, opt for our small group guided tour upgrade designed for groups of 10 or fewer. Alternatively, indulge in a First Access upgrade to be among the first to explore the Museums for the day. St. Peter's access is included when available except Wednesdays (NOT included for tickets).

Price €45

Min age 0

Rating 4.69 / 5 [3601 ratings]

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  • Rome

Embark on an enchanting journey through the Vatican with our expert guide, immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums. Let the rich history and stunning artwork come alive as your guide leads you through the labyrinthine halls, providing fascinating insights. Skip the lines to explore captivating spaces like the Gallery of the Maps. Stand in the iconic Sistine Chapel, captivated by the masterpiece 'The Creation of Adam' by Michelangelo. Conclude your unforgettable tour with a visit to the majestic St. Peter's Basilica.

Price €82

Min age 0

Rating 4.60 / 5 [3163 ratings]

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  • Rome

Skip the lines and see the incredible Sistine Chapel, the highlights of the Vatican’s extraordinary collections & galleries, and get direct access to St.Peter's Basilica with an expert guide. Once you book, we organize everything. Just show up at the Maya Tours office (VIA GERMANICO, 16) at the correct time (Please arrive 10 minutes before your booked departure time) and your guide will escort you inside the Museums & provide you with your ticket. No unnecessary waiting around! Time is important, especially when you are on vacation, so we always use fast track tickets to ensure you get inside as soon as possible. The Vatican Museum boasts over 4 miles of Art, and a whopping 20,000 works on display, the Vatican Museums make up an impressive assemblage. The Sistine Chapel is an impressive sanctuary boasts works by master painters like Perugino, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio, Rosselli, Botticelli, Signorelli, della Gatta and, of course, Michelangelo.

Price €45

Min age 6

Rating 4.63 / 5 [2978 ratings]

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  • Rome

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel tour with an expert friendly guide in a small group. Take advantage of your skip-the-line tickets and maximize your time inside this magnificent Vatican Museums. Your guide will lead you through the amazing galleries housing one of the most important art collections of the world. Art and history will be brought back to life and you will learn many stories & anecdotes through the headsets so you do not miss any words of the hidden artworks. During your tour you will discover the Galleries of the Maps, Tapestries and Candelabra and the masterpiece of Michelangelo: The Sistine Chapel. At the end of your tour, enter the Basilica with our skip the line access (if option selected). You will learn about the Renaissance painters: Michelangelo & Raphael and their rivalry throughout their lives. Note: we do not give access to the Basilica on tours after 2:30 PM, on Wednesdays, and on closing days set by the Vatican.

Price €35

Min age 0

Rating 4.59 / 5 [1747 ratings]

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