• Vatican Museums
  • Vatican Museums
  • Garden Overlook
  • Vatican Gardens
  • Pine Cone Courtyard
  • Pine Cone Courtyard
  • Pine Cone Courtyard
  • Augustus' Head
  • Augustus' Head
  • Gallery of the Busts
  • Braccio Nuovo
  • Braccio Nuovo
  • Octagonal Courtyard
  • Laocoon
  • Laocoon
  • Animal Rooms
  • Animal Rooms
  • Belvadere Torso
  • Round Room
  • Round Room
  • Round Room
  • Greek Cross Room
  • Stairway
  • Upstairs
  • Candelabra Gallery
  • Tapestry Gallery
  • Tapestry Gallery
  • Gallery of the Maps
  • Gallery of the Maps
  • Immaculate Conception Room
  • Immaculate Conception Room
  • Immaculate Conception Room
  • Immaculate Conception Room
Pinacoteca: Painting Gallery
The Sistine Chapel
The Raphael Rooms
The Sobieski Room
The Papal Apartments
Gallery of the Maps
Gallery of Tapestries
Gallery of Candelabra
Pinecone Courtyard
Braccio Nuovo
Gallery of Busts
Octagonal Courtyard
Hall of the Muses
The Round Room
Greek Cross Room
Main Entrance
Belvadere Courtyard
Vatican Gardens Viewing Deck

The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are one of the largest and oldest museum collections in the world. With over 40 rooms viewable by the public containing thousands of pieces of art, the sheer size of the complex surprises most visitors.

The majority of the museums are rooms of ancient Roman sculpture and Renaissance paint work. You have to go through the Vatican Museums to get to the Sistine Chapel so all tours, including my own, start there.

Once inside, you have a choice of which route to take. Since the year 2000 the museums have been a one way system. Seeing all of the Museums would take about 4 hours, half would take 2, the minimum route lasts 1 hour before you can see the chapel. This is the same regardless of what guide or tour you choose.

History of the Vatican Museums

The Museums were started over 500 years ago, in 1506, when the Laocoon statue was discovered buried in Rome. Pope Julius II sent Michelangelo out to appraise it and on his advice bought it and started collecting sculpture for the Vatican. Julius already owned the Apollo Belvadere statue and brought this to the Vatican, commissioning architect Donato Bramante to build a courtyard to house these.

Julius is the man who paid Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel Ceiling and paid Raphael to paint the papal apartments, which we now call the Raphael Rooms. This period of increased artistic standards and reinterest in ancient sculpture would be called the Renaissance or rebirth.

Over time different Popes added to the collections either buying or commissioning sculpture and paintings and the museums expanded accordingly.

Rooms the Museums include:

Pinacoteca
Garden overlook
Pine Cone Courtyard
The Gallery of the Busts
The Braccio Nuovo
The Octagonal Courtyard
The Hall of Muses
The Round Room
The Room of the Greek Cross
Gallery of the Candelabra
Tapestry Gallery
Gallery of the Maps
Sobieski Room
Room of the Immaculate Conception
The Raphael Rooms
The Borgia Apartments
The Sistine Chapel
The Vatican Library

I follow the natural routes of the museums and each of my tours list the rooms visited.
If you rest your mouse over the areas of the picture above right, blue boxes will appear.
You can click those boxes to see what that room of the museum looks like.
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