Admire and be enthralled by the amazing art collection at the Vatican Museums
The Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel is undoubtedly the most popular attraction of the Vatican Museums. Flooded by people at any time of the day, the chapel houses the beautiful artwork of Michelangelo: the ceiling frescoes and Giudizio Universale. Depicting scenes from the story of Genesis, the ceiling is one of the most acknowledged works of Michelangelo. Giudizio Universale on the west wall of the chapel is no second to it. You will also find the figures of Biagio de Cesena, the papal master of ceremonies and St Bartholomew among other works of Michelangelo. The chapel walls also have superb fresco work of Renaissance artists like Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio, Perugino and Luca Signorelli.
Pinacoteca is an art gallery containing a prized collection of paintings. Commissioned by Pius IX and designed by Luca Beltrami the building was inaugurated in 1932. It contains the work of eminent artists from 12th-13th century up to 19th Century which is stored in Chronological order in eighteen rooms. Here you will find the work of Giotto, Beato Angelico, Melozzo da Forlì, Perugino Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Veronese and many other renowned artists.
Founded by Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti in the early 19th Century, this arched gallery features several statues, sarcophagi and friezes. It was organized by Antonio Canova, a neoclassical sculptor. At the end of the gallery is a new wing Braccio Nuovo that contains the statues of Augustus of Prima Porta, the Doryphoros, and The River Nile.
Museo Pio Clementino
Housing the finest classical statuary, Museo Pio-Clementino is one of the prominent museums of the Vatican. Named after Pope Clement XIV who founded the museum and Pope Pius IV who got it completed, the museum houses Roman and Greek sculptures. One of its rooms Sala Rotonda is lined by ancient statues including the bronze statue of Hercules and ancient mosaic covering on the floor. Next, there is Gallery of the Statues which as its name suggests contains numerous statues. You will find a wide collection of ancient busts in the Gallery of busts. Sala Delle Muse houses the Statue of Apollo and the nine muses along with other statues of Greek and Roman sculptors including Belvedere Torso. While Sala Degli Animali contains statues of animals and beautiful 4th century mosaics.
How to Get Tickets?
There are entry tickets to the museum which you can buy at the entrance gate but of course there is a long queue where you will have to wait patiently. You can even buy the tickets online. If you are buying from the official website of Vatican, then you may opt for “skip the line” option which would cost you a little more but save on time. There are guided tours also that you can book. The entry to the museums is free on the last Sunday of every month.
How To Get Around?
The Vatican Museums are spread over a significantly large area. You will have to walk around long corridors leading to various exhibits and galleries. Completing the entire museum in a single day is not possible in a day, hence there are routes marked that you can follow according to what you wish to see. There are audio guidebooks available that you can purchase for easier exploration.
What Should I Wear?
The Vatican museums also have a dress code which is strictly followed. The minimum clothing as per the rules of the Vatican should cover both knees and shoulders. Thus trousers, long skirts and long-sleeved t-shirts are the best-suited wearables for visiting the museums. Also, do wear comfortable footwear as you would be walking a lot.
Best Time to Visit
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday and the last Sunday of every month except on religious holidays. From March to October it is open between 8:45 am- 4:45 pm (Monday to Friday) and 8:45 am – 1:45 pm (Saturday and last Sunday). Rest of the year, you can visit it between 8:45 am -1:45 pm (Monday to Saturday and last Sunday). If you wish to avoid long queues and crowds, plan a visit early morning or in the low months (November to February). Summers can be very hot in Rome hence a visit during the season should be avoided.
Will I Need a Guide?
You can explore the museum on your own but as some parts are not properly labelled you may find difficulty in finding your way. There are audio books and guidebooks available that can help you out. Also, you can opt for guided tours which will give you a better insight into the place and its prized treasures.
How To Get There?
Vatican Museums are easily accessible by public transport. You can take a metro to Ottaviano station from where the Vatican museums are just a 5-minute walk away. Alternatively, you can take a metro to Battistini or Cipro stations that are also near to the museum. Also, there are numerous buses that have a stop near the Vatican Museums. Bus no. 49 has a stop in the square in front of the Vatican Museums. You can also opt for a tram ride up to Piazza del Risorgimento or a private taxi.
If you wish to save your time carry few belongings. There is a security check at the entrance as well as exit. Getting your backpack checked on entry and while leaving can be quite frustrating.