How to visit the Sistine Chapel, the greatest treasure of the Vatican

The Sistine Chapel is surely the most famous vault on the planet.

Its frescoes are the reference of excellence and visiting it makes you hold your breath to be able to admire it better and feel all the history that its walls hide and above all the best kept secret of Catholicism, the election of the Popes.

Michelangelo dedicated 4 years of his life to painting the Sistine Chapel and without a doubt it can be said that it is a great masterpiece and the greatest treasure that we can find in the Vatican.

The Construction of the Sistine Chapel

Rome - Sistine ChapelThe Sistine Chapel is one of the more than 1,000 rooms that make up the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican.

Its construction was carried out, by order of Sixtus IV and hence its name, between 1477 and 1480, being a rectangular building without great adornments or decoration on the outside.

The interior of the Sistine Chapel was initially decorated by various painters, including Botticeli, who painted the walls with scenes from the lives of Moses and Jesus Christ.

In 1508, by order of Julius II, Michelangelo began the decoration of the vault, resulting 4 years later, in the greatest work of art in history that humanity remembers. And that, despite the fact that Miguel Angel did not like the commissioned work.

Despite this, he took great care and today we can enjoy this wonder. In fact, Michelangelo believed that the commission was a conspiracy to make him fail but he made it clear that he was a great artist.

What to see in the Sistine Chapel

Rome - Sistine Chapel - The Creation of AdamThe Sistine Chapel is at the end of the tour that you must take through the Vatican Museums, so it is the culmination of everything you have seen.

As the route is long, your visit is made to wait and therefore the emotion grows as you go through all the rooms.

And when you finally get to it, you go through a door and suddenly you find yourself before this beauty.

The frescoes on its walls, those painted by order of Sixtus IV, are already a great work of art.

Rome - Sistine Chapel - The Last JudgmentBut all eyes are directed to the ceiling and the wall above the main altar. They are the paintings that Michelangelo left as a legacy.

Before the commission, the ceiling was painted blue with gold stars but Julius II wanted something more spectacular.

Currently, on the ceiling we can see different scenes from Genesis, 9 in total, the most famous of all being the Creation of Adam, where God is about to touch Adam’s finger to bring him to life.

On the wall above the main altar we find the other great work of Michelangelo inside the Sistine Chapel.

It is about The Last Judgment, which was actually painted 30 years later than the vault, it has more than 150 square meters and the Apocalypse is represented in it.

It was also the subject of controversy because Michelangelo painted naked bodies that the cardinals of the time did not like at all and that is why years later the genitals were covered by another painter.

The Conclave for the election of the Pope

Rome - Sistine Chapel - ConclaveIn addition to its frescoes, the Sistine Chapel is also famous for being the place where the Conclave for the election of the Pope is held.

These have been held here since 1878 having been held in the Vatican since 1455 and previously in the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, situated next to the Pantheon in Rome.

During the Conclave, a chimney is installed where the ballot papers of the cardinals’ votes are burned and the famous black or white smoke is produced that announces the result to the faithful who are outside.

How do you visit the Sistine Chapel?

The Sistine Chapel is one of the rooms that are visited during the tour of the Vatican Museums and its entrance is included in it. Therefore, to visit the Sistine Chapel you must purchase the full ticket for the museums.

If you want to visit it, be sure to read our article dedicated to the Vatican Museums.

Normally there are many people but their capacity is limited so you may have to queue outside the chapel waiting for those inside to leave the place.

It is mandatory to remain silent inside and the guards will be watching to see that it is complied with, although it must be said that many times their insistence that people remain silent is what really breaks the silence. You can’t take videos or photos either.

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