In the Vatican Museums we can find the largest collection of art owned by the Catholic Church and they contain numerous works of art that summarize the entire history of art.
In them we can find some of the most beautiful creations in the history of mankind as well as the Sistine Chapel, one of the greatest pictorial works known.
Here we tell you the best things to see in the Vatican Museums.
Origin of the Vatican Museums
The origin of the Vatican Museums dates back to the beginning of the 16th century, specifically 1503.
That year, Pope Julius II moved his private art collection to the courtyard of the Belvedere Palace where the sculptures he had were arranged.
Subsequently, this collection grew with donations from individuals and also from other Popes until it became the immense collection that it is today.
The birth of the Vatican Museums proper occurred at the end of the 18th century when Clement XIV and Pius VI created the Museo Pio-Clementino with the collection of classical sculpture.
The museum gradually grew and Pius VII commissioned the creation of the Chiaramonti Museum, thus creating the first art gallery.
The rest of the museums and buildings were created in later centuries and are still expanding today.
What to see in the Vatican Museums
The visit to the Vatican Museums can take you hours, even if you do the visit in a little exhaustive way. And they have a great extension. Depending on your artistic tastes, you will have to choose which areas to visit if you do not have much time.
If time is not a problem, the full visit can take up to 6 hours. There are various itineraries designed to make the visit easier.
As its name suggests, it is actually a complex of museums, the most important units being the following.
Pio Clementino Museum and the Chiaramonti Museum
The Pío Clementino Museum was the first museum created and in it we find 12 rooms with Greek and Roman sculptures.
The Belvedere Courtyard also belongs to this museum, where Julius II installed his works.
Among the sculptures there is one that stands out above all, such as Laocoon and his Sons, but the Apollo of Belvedere or Apoxyomeno are also very important.
For its part, the Chiaramonti Museum is so named because its creator, Pius VII, was actually called Barnaba Chiaramonti. It consists of 3 galleries where we can also find numerous classical sculptures such as Heracles with the little Telephus or Ganymede with Zeus transformed into an Eagle.
Without a doubt, one of the best known and with some really spectacular paintings painted by the great painter.
The Rooms of Raphael are 4 private rooms of Julius II, which he commissioned to decorate Raphael, which together with his assistants, finished after the death of the Pope.
Practically all the paintings in the room should be highlighted, but especially the famous School of Athens or Parnassus we can put above the others.
It is about 18 rooms where there are some 500 works, which were transferred to the Louvre Museum after the invasion of Rome by Napoleon. These works later returned to Rome on the condition that they be exhibited to the public. Here we find paintings by Fra Angelico, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci or Raphael.
The Sistine Chapel, the jewel of the Vatican
The Sistine Chapel is the great masterpiece of the Vatican Museums.
It was built by order of Pope Sixtus VI and is famous for its decoration, the work of Michelangelo who painted the vault in 4 years.
The conclaves for the election of the Pope are held here and it is one of the most impressive places in the world.
Due to its special beauty we dedicate a separate chapter to the Sistine Chapel.
Cartographic Maps Gallery
One of the best known places in the Vatican Museums. In this gallery we find 40 maps painted in fresco on the walls representing the regions of Italy and the lands of the Church in the time of Gregory XIII. It is a long corridor that you will never want to leave.
The famous spiral staircase
It can also be highly recommended to take one of the guided tours offered by the museums, although it must be said that they are a bit expensive.
As we have said, going through them will take a long time, but it will be worth knowing all these works of art before going outside through the famous spiral staircase designed by Giuseppe Momo.
Enter the Vatican Museums without lines
The Vatican Museums receive more than 4 million visitors every year and the queues that form are famous. But there are ways to avoid them.
You can avoid queues if you go during the week around 1 pm, since at that time people are usually eating. Of course, we recommend that you eat beforehand so that you can endure the walk inside.
You should avoid going on the last Sunday of the month, since that day is free and the queues are very long, and also on Mondays, since almost all the museums in the city are closed and more people take advantage of that day to visit the Vatican Museums.
You can also take this guided tour of the Vatican, which includes the basilica, the museum and the Sistine Chapel, and skip the lines.
You can find more information on the official website of the Vatican Museums.