the raphael rooms
The Raphael Rooms are a series of previous Papal apartments which are now located in the Vatican Museums.
They are named after the Renaissance painter Raphael Sanzio who painted three of the four rooms now visible to the public.
The remainder of the work, including the Hall of Constantine was complete by his assistants, Giulio Romano and Giovanni Francesco Penni.
In 1508 Pope Julius II commissioned Italy’s best painters to decorate a series of rooms upstairs in the Apostolic Palace.
Julius refused to sleep in the Borgia Apartments where his predecessor Pope Alexander VI Borgia had slept.
Initially Raphael was a minor name.
Upon seeing his work, the Pope entrusted the entire project to Raphael and he brought in his own assistants to help him carry out the work.
raphael artist artwork
The project took 16 years to complete (1508 to 1524) and spanned two Popes (Julius II and Leo X).
Unfortunately, Raphael died in 1520 on his 37th birthday meaning the last room, the Hall of Constantine, had to be painted by his assistants Giulio Romano and Giovanni Francesco Penni.
This is the first room people enter due to the flow of the Vatican, so the visitor is viewing the rooms chronologically backwards.
raphael school of athens
Another commission started in 1508 was the Sistine Chapel ceiling which would hugely influence Raphael’s style.
Raphael and Michelangelo were rivals for work and disliked each other personally although Raphael came to respect Michelangelo’s painting talent once the chapel was unveiled in 1512.
There are four rooms in the Raphael Stanze and each room has four wall paintings and a ceiling.
The Hall of Constantine – This first room you visit was a reception hall, showing scenes from the life of the first Christian Emperor, including:
The Room of Heliodorous – This second room was a private meeting room and it shows:
school of athens raphael
The Room of the Signature – This third rooms was the office or study where important documents were signed shows:
the School of Athens regarded as a masterpiece
The Room of the Fire in the Borgo – This last room was used as a dinning and music room, showing:
The Raphael Rooms take about 40 minutes to view (or as long as you like) and would suit those who are interested in Renaissance frescoes.
I recommend doing them if your tour takes place in the morning.
You have to see the Borgia Apartments and the Modern Art Gallery afterwards, so the entire section takes 45 minutes to one hour.
They are usually optional, although in the afternoon the Vatican Guards can force people through them, and photos are allowed without flash.
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Our tour guide was very informative and knew the history of all the statues and art paintings and frescoes on the walls and ceilings. We are very glad we took this guided tour. We would not have known what we were looking at. Excellent work to Vatican tour and guide. Thanks!
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