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Vatican Museum

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 4/5 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.

When was the Vatican Built

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.

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

Sections of the Vatican Museums

Entrance and North side of the Museums:

Garden overlook
Pine Cone Courtyard

Pio Clementine Museum

This Section was built by two Popes; Clement XIV Ganganelli (1769-1774) and Pius VI Braschi (1775-1799):

The Octagonal Courtyard
The Hall of Muses
The Round Room
The Room of the Greek Cross
Gallery of the Candelabra

Chiaramonti Museum

The Chiaramonti Museum is is named after pope Pius VII Chiaramonti (1800-1823) and is one long room linking the Papal Residence to the older Museum and a new wing or Braccio Nuovo:

The Gallery of the Busts
The Braccio Nuovo

Newer Vatican Museums Section

Other rooms have been created and updated by Popes:

Tapestry Gallery
Gallery of the Maps
Sobieski Room
Room of the Immaculate Conception

The Raphael Rooms

The Raphael Rooms were a set of Papal Apartments paid for by Pope Julius II (1503-1513) who didn't want to sleep where his Borgia precedessor Alexander VI had slept. They were decorated by Raphael Sanzio and his assistants Giovanni Francesco Penni and Guilo Romano.
The Raphael Rooms

Borgia Apartments

The Borgia Apartments are where Pope Alexander VI (1492 - 1503) slept, they were primary decorated by Pinturrichio and his assistants:
The Borgia Apartments

The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel was built by Pope Sixtus IV, hence the name - there is not another 15 of them, and is the private chapel of the Pope and where most Popes have been elected since 1482. It was decoarted by various people including Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Botticelli and later Michelangelo.
The Sistine Chapel

The Vatican Library

The Vatican Library housed the library and archives of the Vatican State, now are are long corridor leading to exit of the museums.
The Vatican Library

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