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Five Must-Sees of the Vatican Museums


02 September 2020

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The Vatican Museums are the heritage of the artistic patronage of their Popes who, for centuries, dominated the artistic, political and cultural life of Rome. As you might know, the Vatican museums are one of the largest collections of works of art in the world and you could visit them with our Small Group Vatican Tours or our Private Vatican Tours. For this reason the choice of which museums to visit can be a difficult dilemma for any tourist.


Visiting the Vatican is practically one of the main stops for basically all people who decide to make a trip to Rome. The smallest country in the world is home to The Holy See and is one of the most impressive places to walk around. However, there are many questions about how to visit the smallest country in the world and how to get the most out of it in one day. Precisely in this blog, we will present you a selection of five mandatory stops in the Vatican museums. You will also make these stops when visiting Rome with our Small Group Vatican Tours or our Private Vatican Tours.

1. Pio Clementino Museum

The Pio Clementino Museum is located inside the Belvedere Palace, it was founded by Pope Clement XIV in 1771 and later expanded by Pope Pius VI to collect the most important Greek and Roman masterpieces that are preserved in the Vatican and you will visit with our Vatican Tours. After the death of Pius VI, the museum was given the two popes’ names, Clement XIV Ganganelli (1769-1774) and Pius VI Braschi (1775-1799), for the increased number of works of art that this museum contained.

The museum has twelve rooms and contains a wide collection of Roman and Greek statues.

In the Octagonal Courtyard, among the most famous statues that you can see is the Apollo of the Belvedere, a Roman copy from the 2nd century AD.

Among the most important rooms are the Hall of Animals, the Gallery of Candelabra, the Rotunda Hall, the Hall of the Muses and the Gallery of Statues.

2. Pinacoteca

Continuing with your Vatican Museums Tour, you will find the Pinacoteca, composed of 18 rooms arranged chronologically with paintings ranging from the Medieval Age to the 19th century.

Without a doubt, the most outstanding piece in the collection is Caravaggio’s Entombment of Christ, one of the most important works of European Baroque and, also, a masterpiece of universal painting.

Currently the collection boasts 460 paintings, including masterpieces by artists of the caliber of Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, the Perugino and Caravaggio. If you are interested in something special from this collection, please do not hesitate to ask our staff for a Private Vatican tour.

3. Gallery of Geographical Maps

If you are a lover of geography, surely you cannot miss this masterpiece, undoubtedly one of the most luminous and fascinating environments in the Vatican Museums. 120 meters long covered, on both sides, with 40 old maps painted on the walls that represent Italy and the Vatican possessions. The gallery takes its name from the series of topographic maps that Pope Gregory XIII had the Perusian Ignazio Danti painted on the walls of the room.

4. Raphael's Rooms

Following our Vatican Tour, we will arrive at the Raphael’s Rooms, like almost all the great works of the Vatican, this set of four decorated rooms were the result of the whim of one of the Roman popes, in this case Julius II. These were carried out between 1508 and 1520. When Raphael died in 1520, his pupils carried out the rest of his work until 1524.

The most important fresco of all is known as ‘The School of Athens’, it is Raphael’s masterpiece, which housed the private library of Julius II. In this work, Raphael wanted to represent philosophy through a debate featuring the great thinkers of the classical world personalized by the great names of the Renaissance: Plato is Leonardo, Euclides is Bramante and Heraclitus is Michelangelo.

5. Sistine Chapel

Visiting the Sistine Chapel is an unforgettable experience! With your Vatican Tour to the Vatican Museums it is impossible to miss the Sistine Chapel, the jewel of the Vatican Museums, an impressive work painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 on behalf of Pope Julius II.

Once inside, what is most impressive are the wonderful paintings that line the ceiling, among which stands out in the center “The Creation of Adam” and the immense “Last Judgment” that covers the wall of the altar.

In 1483, Pope Julius II commissioned a young Michelangelo to paint the vault and lunettes on top of the walls. The work lasted 4 years from 1508 to 1512, in which Michelangelo encountered many difficulties, especially reaching the ceiling and personal health issues.

More than twenty years later, in 1536, Pope Clement VII called Michelangelo again, this time to commission him to carry out the Last Judgment.

The most famous fresco in the world, it is structured so that everything develops around the figure of Christ, who is in the middle of the scene. In the Last Judgment, the artist eliminates any spatial and environmental references, the deep background is blue and the only supporting elements for the characters are the clouds in an abstract and timeless dimension.

The Sistine Chapel also serves as the seat of the conclave, the meeting in which the cardinal electors of the College of Cardinals elect a new pope.

Without a doubt, the Sistine Chapel is a masterpiece that you cannot miss if you are passing through Rome and with our Vatican Tours this will be an unforgettable experience made possible with an expert professional guide.

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