Vatican Museums, Rome

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Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are the public museums of the Vatican City (map).

One of the greatest art galleries in the world, the museum is most famous for its spiral staircase, the Raphael Rooms and the exquisitely decorated Sistine Chapel famous for Michelangelo’s frescoes. Much of the museum is organized so you follow a one-way route leading to Raphael’s rooms and the Sistine Chapel but there is much more to see as well. If you are very short of time, it will take at least an hour to visit the Sistine Chapel.

The museums celebrated their 500th anniversary in October 2006 by permanently opening the excavations of a Vatican Hill necropolis to the public.

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St. Peter’s Basilica (wiki, map) The center of the Catholic world, this magnificent basilica with its Michelangelo-designed dome has an awe-inspiring interior. A strict dress code is enforced, so have shoulders covered, wear trousers or a not-too-short dress, and take your hats off. Women must wear scarves or something to cover their heads.

The Sistine Chapel (map). There is no exterior entrance, it being approached from within the Vatican buildings. Inside, the walls are divided into three levels. The lower is decorated with frescoed wall hangings. The middle of the walls has two cycles of paintings, “The Life of Moses” and “The Life of Christ”, painted by Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Signorelli, Pinturicchio and Perugino, among others.

The upper tier contains a Gallery of Popes. Around the tops of the windows are the “Ancestors of Christ”, painted by Michelangelo as part of the ceiling. The ceiling proper contains nine paintings inspired by the Old Testament, showing God’s Creation of the World, God’s Relationship with Mankind, and Mankind’s Fall from God’s Grace. Michelangelo was reluctant to work on the ceiling but was unable to refuse an instruction by a pope, Julius II.

Raphael’s papal apartments (Stanze) were begun in 1508 when the painter was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II. The first room on which he worked was the Stanza della Segnatura, the pope’s library and office. The four walls have the themes of Theology, Poetry, Jurisprudence and Philosophy.

Pinacoteca Vaticana. The art gallery was housed in the Borgia Apartment until Pius XI ordered construction of a dedicated building. The new building, designed by Luca Beltrami, was inaugurated on 27 October 1932.

 !  Because of the dense crowds of dazzled tourists, St. Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel are favorite spots for pickpocketers, who clearly don’t buy into the whole ‘Purgatory’ thing, or else believe their sins will be forgiven. Keep an eye on your belongings throughout your trip to the Vatican—even tour guides occasionally get pickpocketed here.

Public transport

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atac.roma.it + Rome Metro

CityMapper – Rome | The ultimate transport app and technology for mobility in cities.

The Metro is the most punctual form of public transportation in Rome. All lines open at 05:30 and stop running at 23:30, except Fridays and Saturdays, when the last trains leave from the stations at 01:30.

 BUS >   Tickets for regular ATAC buses, Metro, and trams are the same fares and are compatible with each other. Roma Pass includes full access to the public transport system. There is also an alternative pass called OMNIA Vatican and Rome which includes the services provided by Roma Pass.

***Hubs of the night buses are Termini and Piazza Venezia. All the bus lines have the prefix “N”; N1 and N2 routes are similar to metro line A and B respectively, N28 for line C.

 RAIL >   The Tram routes mostly skirt the historic centre, but there are stops convenient for the Vatican, the Colosseum, and the Trastevere area. The number 8 does run into the centre to Largo Argentina, not far from the Pantheon, and terminate at Piazza Venezia.

Nuovo Trasporto ViaggiatoriTrenitaliaInternational RailRailEurope (*Rail travel in Italy)

Roma Termini stationRoma Tiburtina stationRoma Ostiense station.

 AIRPORTS >   L’aeroporto di Roma FiumicinoCiampino–G. B. Pastine International Airport.

 WATERWAYS >   *Ferries in the Mediterranean

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