Vatican

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Vatican Museums

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The Vatican Museums are located inside the Vatican City State. The entrance is situated on the northern part of Saint Peter’s square.  The Vatican Museums are composed of several smaller museums such as the Classical Antiquities Museum, the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, the Sistine Chapel, the Pinacoteca, the Ethnological Museum and Raphael’s Rooms, just to name the most famous.

The complex of the Vatican Museums owns a very rich collection of artefacts, sculptures, frescoes, mosaics from antique to modern times and originating from all over the world. Popes started to collect objects from ancient Egypt, ancient Rome and the Etruscan civilization, as well as from the first churches and basilicas ever built; they pursue this task to this day.

Excursions from the Vatican Museums

Two of the museums in the complex are considered wonders from the Renaissance period: the Sistine Chapel with its vault painted by Michelangelo, and Raphael’s Rooms. Pope Julius II was the first pope to collect, gather and display to the public sculptures and artefact from Ancient History but it was under Pope Clement XII that the two museums opened.

Pope Julius II chose the painter Raphael to decorate the four rooms of his apartment. Raphael started to paint in 1508 but the decorations were finished 16 years later by his students following the artist’s death in 1520. The four rooms are the following: the Room of Constantine, the Room of Heliodorus, the Room of the Segnatura, and the Room of the Fire in the Borgo. The first room was designed for receptions and official ceremony, and was decorated by Raphael’s students following his original drawings. The room of Heliodorus was used for the Pope’s private audiences while the room of the Segnatura was used as a library and private offices. This latter room contains Raphael’s most famous frescoes and it is considered a masterpiece marking the beginning of the High Renaissance. The room of the Fire in Borgo was used by Pope Leo X as a dining room. For this last room, Raphael painted the walls while the ceilings were painted by his teacher Pietro Vannuci.

The last museum to be opened was the Historical Museum in 1973. Today, the Vatican Museums welcome four million visitors each year.

Private Vatican Museums & St.Peter’s Basilica

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From: $78.79

TOUR DURATION

4 Hours

START TIME

09:00 AM & 02:00 PM

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat

MEETING POINT

Vatican MuseumS entrance, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Meet your private guide at the designated meeting point just outside the Vatican Museums. From there, your half day private tour of the Vatican will begin in the galleries of the Vatican Museums, home to the most celebrated art collection in Europe.

 

This collection includes artifacts, sculptures, frescoes and mosaics from antique to modern times that originate from all over the world. Throughout the centuries, Popes started to collect objects from ancient Egypt, ancient Rome and the Etruscan civilization, as well as from the first churches and basilicas ever built –a task which they pursue to this day. Some highlights from the Vatican collection include artworks by Giotto, Raphael, Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Titian and Bellini. The tour will take you throughout the various rooms and hallways that compose the Vatican Museums until you eventually arrive in the last room: the spectacular Sistine Chapel, extreme expression of Michelangelo’s genius.

 

Last but not least, you will visit the largest sanctuary of Christianity, St. Peter’s Basilica, where proportions seem to have been forgotten in an amazing triumph of marble, bronze and mosaic works. Many artists and architects worked on this massive undertaking, resulting in the fantastic artistic and architectural wonder in front of you now.

 

End the tour in St. Peter’s Square, as your guide points out Bernini’s ingenious use of optical illusion.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Expert local guide at disposal

– Reservation and entrance fee at Vatican Museums

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Tapestry Gallery

– Gallery of Maps

– Raphael romms

– Sistine Chapel

– St Peter’s Basilica

– St Peter’s Square

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers

– Backpacks, umbrellas and tripods must be left inside a cloakroom on entering Vatican Museum.
The tour ends in St Peter’s Square that is at 15 minutes walking from the entrance and cloackroom. We recommend that backpacks tripods and umbrellas are not taken on this tour.

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced at St. Peter’s Basilica. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts.

Departure point:

Vatican Museums entrance

Duration:
4 hours

Return details:
St. Peter’s Square

 

St. Peter’s Basilica

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St Peter’s Basilica takes its name from the martyr Saint Peter, who was killed in 64 A.D. during the time when Nero was persecuting Christians.

The original Saint Peter’s Basilica was built by the Emperor Constantin, the first Christian Emperor, in memory of the martyr. The basilica became a symbol of the Christian religion as the official religion in the Roman Empire. The construction started in 324 A.D. and integrated Saint Peter’s grave; the basilica was then consecrated in 329.

By the end of the 15th century, the Saint Peter’s Basilica had fallen to disrepair. In 1503, the architect Bramante was asked to renovate it by Pope Julius II and construction began in 1506. Bramante decided to renovate the basilica following the form of a Greek cross covered by a dome however he died a few years after the renovations had begun. Michelangelo continued the renovation project after Bramante’s death and transformed the dome, taking part in its construction until his own death in 1564. The dome was eventually finished by Giacomo Della Porta in 1590.

Things to see

Many artists and architects worked on this massive undertaking. During the 17th century, Carlo Maderno was inspired by Michelangelo’s plans and built the façade of the Basilica. This façade is 115 meters long and 48 meters high, the capitals of its many columns decorated according to the Corinthian style. The balcony situated above main door is where the pope usually pronounces his blessings. It was the sculptor Bernini who finally finished Saint Peter’s Basilica in 1666.

Nowadays, with its 190 meters in length, the Saint Peter’s Basilica is able to welcome 20 000 people. It is possible to take the stairs to the summit of the dome, which offers a breathtaking view of Saint Peter’s square below and Rome all around.

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.