Piazza San Pietro

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Sistine Chapel

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The Sistine Chapel is the most famous chapel of the Apostolic Palace. The Sistine Chapel belongs to the Vatican Museums and since it is considered as one of the museums of the complex, it is possible to visit its beauty.

The Sistine Chapel takes its name from the Pope Sixtus IV who ordered the renovation of the old chapel Cannella Magna between 1477 and 1480, however the chapel is most famous for the stunning Renaissance frescoes covering its walls and ceilings. Pope Julius II ordered the decoration of the ceiling to be done by Michelangelo, who painted 1100 square meters between 1508 and 1512.

Things to see

For many, this masterpiece is considered to be one of the best works ever realized by Michelangelo, particularly The Last Judgment located just behind the altar. This huge fresco was realized between 1536 and 1541. In the middle of the masterpiece, we can see Jesus Christ in a light halo; he is surrounded by Mary and several Saints expecting his final decision.

Once the fresco was finished, a huge scandal broke out because too many figures were judged obscene as they were painted naked. In 1564, the Congregation of the Council of Trent decided these figures should be covered and this task was given to the painter Daniele de Volterra. He had to paint draperies which would cover the private parts of the different characters. This earned the artist the nickname of “Braghettone”, which means “breeches maker”. Michelangelo was not the only artist who worked on the chapel; Botticelli, Domenico and Perugino all contributed several frescoes depicting the lives of Moses and Jesus Christ.

Since Pope Sixtus IV, the Sistine Chapel has been used for religious activities and papal meetings. Nowadays, the Sistine Chapel is open to the public as well as the place where the pope is elected.