Treasure trove of Renaissance Art
The Vatican Museums or Musei Vaticani, inside the Vatican City, are home to a huge art collection of Christian art gathered by the Popes throughout the centuries. Among the finest art museums in Europe, they contain some of the world's greatest examples of painting, sculpture, tapestry and other decorative arts.
The Vatican Museums include 54 separate galleries, including some of the finest High Renaissance art in the Sistine Chapel frescoes, with its Genesis and Last Judgment frescoes painted by Michelangelo, and the Raphael Rooms, decorated by Raphael.
Official Guided Tour
The guided tour is useful, the guides are patient and focus on the most popular rooms including the Sistine Chapel of course, and the Basilica.
The guided tour explains significant paintings in a separate room, using small reproductions, so that when you see the real thing you know enough about it.
Additional tips to visit Vatican Museums
- #1 : There is usually a two hour line to get in to the Museums from April to October, 7am until 1pm. The lines are relatively short November to mid-March.
- #2 : Take advantage of the efficient reservation system on the Vatican Museums’ website especially during high season.
- #3 : Opt for a tour with a tour guide. The tour guide will manage your bookings and help you skip the lines. Guides are authorized to take visitors directly from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica, while individual visitors cannot. This saves time and hassle.
- #4 : If possible, opt for the after-hours group tours of the Vatican Museums.
- #5 : The Vatican Museums are not designed like a modern museum complex. It is not air conditioned, only three rooms out of fifty rooms are air conditioned. There are not enough sitting areas, chairs and rest rooms.
- #6 : Photos are allowed everywhere except the Sistine Chapel where no photography or no filming is allowed at all.
Key HighlightsHome to the breathtaking Sistine Chapel, other gallery rooms of the Museums are also incredible in their own right. See the famous Spiral Stairs, the Sala Rotund shaped like the Pantheon, the gilded statue of Hercules, the ancient mosaic floor, and much more.
The Gallery of the Statues and cabinet of the masks is also in this museum. The Museo Chiaramonti showcases ancient stone tablets and inscriptions, as well as important statues situated in the Braccio Nuovo.
An unplanned visit can get overwhelming, taking a guided tour or planning in advance is highly recommended. Get more insight in our details section.