The Vatican Museums are public art and sculpture museums in the Vatican City complex. They are located in the old wings of the Vatican Palace. The Vatican Museums are one of the most visited places in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year.
Vatican Museum History, Architectural Structure, Artifacts
Most of the works, Pope II. It was collected by Julius. However, Julius’ most important contribution was that he was the patron of Renaissance art. Julius rebuilt St. Peter’s Basilica. He commissioned Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Rooms. He founded the Vatican Museums in 1506.
The works in the Vatican crown the priceless beauties of Western art. It is a testament to history, telling stories about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the history of the Catholic Church, and the birth of the Renaissance.
The Vatican Museums were originally born as collections of classical sculptures. This is because the Popes saw themselves as the legitimate heirs of Roman history. The pagan city had become Christian, the imperium of Augustus and Trajan united with the imperium sine of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. That is why the monuments of Roman civilization were preserved, preserved and valued the greater glory of God and the honor and glory of the Church.
Home to the first core of classical works of the Vatican Museums in 1506 is the Courtyard of Sculptures, today the Octagon Court.
Vatican Museums Important Artifacts
The Museum of Egyptian Art displays countless examples of statues, sarcophagi and mummies, Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets and seals among its various exhibition halls. The Picture Gallery (Pinacoteca) contains works by Giotto, Caravaggio, Beato Angelico, Perugino, Leonardo, Titian, and Raphael.
Visitors are allowed in the Vatican Palaces. Raphael’s Rooms are decorated with beautiful frescoes performed by the artist between 1508 and 1524.
The real attraction, however, is the Sistine Chapel, a marvelous masterpiece produced by the contributions of many artists, including Perugino, Botticelli, Rosselli and Ghirlandaio.
The most famous contribution is undoubtedly Michelangelo’s painting with the ceiling and the Last Judgment behind the altar.
The Sistine Chapel is world-renowned not only for its magnificent decoration, but also for being the venue of the Pontifical Meeting.
Architectural Structure and Interiors of the Museum
Egyptian and Etruscan Museums
The Gregorian Egyptian Museum and the Gregorian Etruscan Museum were founded by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839 and 1837 to complement the antiquities collection of the Papal Museums and to give a broad perspective on these two civilizations, which were crucial to the development of Mediterranean culture.
Pio Clementino Museum
The Pio Clementino Museum is the heart of the Vatican’s collection of Ancient sculptures and was one of the first buildings to be designed as an Art Museum. The foundation dates back to the papacy of Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pius VI (1775-1799), but the original collection was housed in the famous Belvedere courtyard already in the Renaissance. Sculptures such as Laocoon, Apollo del Belvedere and Torso have been studied by generations and generations of artists and experts and have become prime examples for the evolution of the canon of beauty into European Art.
The Chiaramonti Museum is named after Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti and was opened in 1806 during the dramatic years of the war against Napoleon. Many works of art were brought to France, and even the Pope himself was imprisoned by the French emperor in 1809. With the fall of Napoleon, Antonio Canova, the most famous sculptor of his time, was chosen to have all the artworks taken from him be recovered and displayed in this new hall. Nearly 1,000 pieces of antiques are finally on display, with special attention paid to the extraordinary collection of Roman portrait busts.
The new wing was added to the Chiaramonti Gallery when all the art confiscated by France was returned to Rome. Architect Raffaele Stern designed a building whose primary purpose is to bring better fruit to works of art. Excellent natural lighting still helps to admire such masterpieces as Augustus of Prima Porta and Athena of Giustiniani.
The Lapidary Gallery was built in the 16th century by Bramante, by Pope Paul II. It is on display in the Ambulacrum Iulianum, a corridor built for Julius and consisting of numerous collections of concise inscriptions. The section is normally closed to visitors.
Gregoriano Profano Museum
The Gregoriano Profano Museum was founded by Gregory XVI in 1844 and houses the findings of archaeological excavations of that period. Particularly interesting are some Imperial Roman-era copies of Greek originals and a collection of funerary marbles.
Lapidario Profano old Lateranense
Lapidario Profano ex Lateranense consists of a collection of Roman inscriptions on display in the Vatican Museums after they were transferred from the papal palace in Lateran in 1981.
The Pius-Christian Museum was created by Pope Pius IX to house the artworks of the early Christian era in Rome. Officially established in 1854, the Museum immediately became an exhibition space for works of art excavated by the Pontifical Sacred Archaeological Commission established two years earlier. Besides the important sarcophagus collection, the “iconic” Good Shepard statue is also worth seeing.
Christian Lapidarium and Jewish Lapidarium
The Christian Lapidarium and the Jewish Lapidarium are two collections of ancient inscriptions, both transferred from their former home in the Lateran Palace to the Vatican. They represent a unique “marble stone library” of the early Christian and Jewish world in Rome.
Pinacoteca literally means “chest for painted boards” is an ancient Greek word and it perfectly describes this part of the Museum. More than 460 paintings, distributed chronologically, describe the development of Christian painting from the middle ages to the 19th century. There are works by artists like Giotto, Fra Angelico, Perugino, Leonardo, Tiziano, and obviously Raphael’s masterpieces, for example his last work, Transfiguration, and the magnificent tapestries documenting the lives of Peter and Paul.
The Vatican Museum of Ethnology takes its origins from a temporary exhibition organized by Pope Pius XI in 1925. The enormous and unexpected success of the event convinced the Pope to make it permanent. Today, the collection is among the most diverse and comprehensive collections in the world.
The Car House displays the history of papal activity from the 16th century to modern times. Old luxury cars are on display, along with famous cars donated to popes in recent years.
The Christian Museum is dispersed in the west galleries of the new Belvedere Courtyard, which is now used as the corridor leading from the Sistine chapel to the Museum exit. The religious objects on display are focused on the history of faith and culture, from early Christianity to the modern Catholic world.
Blasphemy Museum, Vatican Museum
The Profane Museum dates back to 1761 and was one of the first collections to be opened to the public. It is located in the Clementine galleries and showcases non-Christian precious items such as cameos, ivory and bronze. The jewel is undoubtedly named for the Hall, a perfectly preserved “closet of antiquities” designed for Pope Clement XIII for the museum’s inauguration.
Room of the Aldobrandini Wedding
The Aldobrandini Wedding Room takes its name from the famous Roman fresco that once belonged to the Aldobrandini family and was one of the most influential paintings in the Roman empire. Other ancient frescoes and mosaics make this room unique for Roman art lovers. From the room there is a magnificent view of St. Peter’s dome.
St. Peter’s Martyr’s Chapel
St. Peter’s Martyr’s Chapel is located just in front of the Sistine Chapel exit. It was painted around 1570 by Giorgio Vasari and his student Jacopo Zucchi.
Contemporary Art Collection
The Contemporary Art Collection was opened by Pope Paul VI in 1973 and currently consists of around 8,000 works. It is located partly inside the magnificent Renaissance circle of Pope Borgia, giving the viewer an extraordinary contrast of ancient and modern. It contains masterpieces by Van Gogh, Bacon, de Chirico, Chagall, Morandi and many other artists that make this 20th century art collection one of the most important collections in Italy.
Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums
The Sistine Chapel is arguably the most magnificent masterpiece of the entire Italian Renaissance and one of the most important works of art in all of European art. Chapel, Pope IV. It was built by Sixtius and is still named after him. On the side walls of the chapel, he commissioned paintings with the stories of Moses and Jesus, which were frescoed between 1481-1482 by artists such as Botticelli, Perugino and Ghirlandaio. In the same place, but a generation later, Pope Paul II in Rome. It was Michelangelo who would be chosen by Julius for the commission of the ceiling decoration. The Tuscan artist, though primarily a sculptor, created there a fresco painting that is considered his highest masterpiece: “la Volta” (the ceiling) represents the stories of Genesis (1508-1512), surrounded by gigantic Prophets and Sybils. 25 years later, Michelangelo worked again in the chapel, this time representing the end of the history of Christian Salvation: The Last Judgment, pope III.
Raphael’s Rooms, Pope Paul II. Julius and his successors. Their current name comes from Raphaël, who, together with his workshop, decorated four rooms (Constantine Hall, Heliodorus Room, Segnatura Room, Fire Room at Borgo) between 1508 and 1524. The project occupied most of his working life and marked a turning point in High Renaissance history. With Raphael, art finally reached and surpassed the unattainable quality of Antique art.
The Borgia Apartments were decorated for the Spanish Pope Alexander VI Borgia. This legendary pope, who sat on the throne of Peter the day America was discovered, is also famous as possibly the worst sinner ever to ever sit on that throne.
The six areas of the apartments were decorated by Pinturicchio (1492-1494) and his school and are the absolute pinnacle of his art. Gilded Ancient Roman ornamental motifs, tales of saints, and an astonishing portrait of Pope Alexander VI are all detailed with skillful mastery of bright and jarring colors that make a visit to these chambers a real must.
The Niccoline Chapel owes its name to Pope Nicholas V and is fully decorated with fresco paintings by Beato Angelico around 1448. The Chapel is on the same level as the Raphael Rooms but is usually close to visitors.
Urban VIII Chapel
Urban VIII Chapel is located in Renaissance apartments, although the room only became a private chapel in 1631 at the request of Pope Urban VIII. The ceiling is completely decorated with plaster and frescoes depicting Stories of the Passion of Christ, the two authors are Alessandro Viviani and Pietro da Cortona, the walls are covered with precious ornate and stamped leather.
Immaculate Conception Room
The Chamber of the Immaculate Conception was frescoed by Francesco Podesti to celebrate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854. Beautiful paintings depicting the theological aspects of dogma are installed on its four walls and with the vault on the floor, a Roman full-color mosaic originally from Ostia antica.
The Chiaroscuri Room is located in the heart of the medieval palace. It was decorated with a series of Apostles and Saints made by Raphael and vigorously repainted a few decades later by the Zuccari brothers. Also noteworthy is the wooden coffered ceiling, a massive coat of arms of Pope Leo X Medici, following an original project by Raphael. The room is usually closed to visitors.
Where are the Vatican Museums, How to Go There, Directions, Visiting Hours, Entrance Price
Address : Via Vaticano, 00165 Rome
You can reach the Vatican museums on foot, by metro or by bus. Metro stops are Ottaviano and Cipro.
Tuesday to Saturday, 09:00 – 18:00
Entrance fee 17 Euros
The museums can be visited free of charge on the last Sunday of every month between 09.00-14.00.
The Vatican has a strict dress code, no shorts, no hats, no cleavage, no bare shoulders. If you’re there in the summer, there’s no air conditioning and it can feel overwhelming.