Sistine Chapel: the island temple in the Vatican

Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina)

Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina)

8 € discounted: for children from 6 to 18, priests, seminarians, students up to 25 years old with a document.

“No queue”: +4 €, via online booking.

Metro Ottaviano, Cipro, line A
Bus 32, 81, 982, Piazza del Risorgimento stop
Bus 49, stop in front of the Vatican Museum
Bus 492, 990, stop in Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni
Streetcar 19, stop in Piazza del Risorgimento

The Apostolic Palace at the Vatican is the official residence of the Pope. It is home to the most famous chapel in the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina). The stunning resemblance to the Temple of Solomon of the Old Testament made the chapel world famous.

Most talented Renaissance masters Botticelli, Raphael and Michelangelo worked on the decoration of the Chapel. Tourists are drawn to the Chapel by the frescoes by Michelangelo: the huge monumental “Last Judgment”, the legendary “Creation of Adam” and the amazing three-dimensional ceiling, painted entirely by the great master.

Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina)

St. Peter’s Square in Rome, where the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel are located, is a favorite place for wedding photo shoots. It is impossible not to mention the fact that the city, as well as Italy as a whole, has become one of the popular destinations of the so-called “wedding tourism”. Given that a wedding in Rome is not such a troublesome affair (thanks, of course, to intermediaries represented by wedding agencies), it is quite understandable the large flow of those wishing to make this memorable day even more special.

Photography in the Sistine Chapel itself is forbidden, but visitors still sneak photos that quite remotely convey the grandeur of the famous frescoes.

Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina)

Now Sistine Chapel is a historical monument, so the church services are not held here, but it is used for conclaves, where cardinals elect a new pope.

Sistine Chapel: History

The Sistine Chapel was built in the mid-15th century by order of Pope Sixtus IV (hence the name) as a house church.

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After construction, Sandro Botticelli and a group of other artists decorated the side walls: the northern wall depicted a cycle of six paintings of the history of Christ, the southern wall six frescoes of the history of Moses. The ceiling was painted with a starry sky by the artist Piermatteo d’Emilia.

Thirty more years later, at the invitation of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Another 25 years later, he also created the “Last Judgment” fresco on the altar wall. The painting of the ceiling is the most ambitious work of the great master in the fresco technique, and the “Last Judgment” and “Creation of Adam” are among the most famous Renaissance masterpieces in the world.

Sistine Chapel ceiling

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel features the most famous cycle of frescoes by the great Michelangelo. He created it in record time, in just four years, even though he called himself a sculptor rather than a painter, and for him it was the first experience of such a large-scale work in fresco technique, moreover, he did most of the work alone, without the trust of his assistants. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is recognized as one of the major masterpieces of High Renaissance art.

Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina)

One of the impressive features of this painting is that the vaulted ceiling appears three-dimensional due to false architectural elements made in the “trompe-l’oeil” technique. Pilasters, cornices, bas-reliefs are all painted. Using this technique, Michelangelo divided the space into zones, each of which contains a particular plot or character.

The nine central frescoes depict scenes from the Book of Genesis:

  • The Creation of the Luminaries and Planets,
  • The Creation of Adam,
  • The Fall and the Expulsion from Paradise,
  • The Flood,
  • The separation of light from darkness,
  • Separation of the land from the waters,
  • The creation of Eve,
  • The sacrifice of Noah,
  • Noah’s intoxication.
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The master depicted the twelve prophets and the Sibyls around the edges, and the names and images of Christ’s ancestors above the chapel windows. In the corners of the chapel four biblical dramatic stories are depicted: Judith and Holofernes, David and Goliath, the Brazen Serpent, and the Punishment of Haman.

Fresco “The Last Judgment”.

The monumental work covers the entire altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, for the sake of its creation at one time in this wall laid windows. Michelangelo created it almost 25 years after he painted the ceiling, the work also took only 4 years.

Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina)

The composition of the canvas is divided into three parts: the angels flying at the top, Christ, the Virgin Mary and the blessed in the center, and the angels of the Apocalypse below, announcing the end of time, the ascent of the righteous into heaven and the descent of sinners into hell.

The “Last Judgment” is considered in art history to be the work that ended the Renaissance. At one time the work was severely criticized. Michelangelo was accused of heresy and obscenity for depicting people naked. In response to the accusations, the master depicted one of his main opponents as King Minos in hell.

Twenty-four years after the creation of the fresco, the nudity was painted over by decision of the Council of Trient and by order of Pope Paul IV. The artist who did this was given the derogatory nickname of “the pantser.” In the opinion of the critics, the most salacious fragment, depicting St. Blasius and St. Catherine of Alexandria, had to be completely cut out from the wall and rewritten, giving the characters “decent” poses.

Sistine Chapel: opening hours in 2022

The Vatican Museum, which houses the Sistine Chapel, is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with the last entrance to the museum at 4:00 p.m.

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On Sundays the museum is closed, except on the last Sunday of each month, when the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (last admission is at 12:30 p.m.), and admission is free for all . This rule applies except when the last Sunday of the month coincides with Easter Sunday, St. Peter and Paul’s Day on June 29, Christmas on December 25, and St. Stephen’s Day on December 26.

The Vatican Museum is closed on the dates of religious holidays. In 2022, these dates are January 1 and 6, March 19, April 2, May 1, June 29, August 14 and 15, November 1, December 8, 25 and 26.

In 2022, the Sistine Chapel is closed to the public on June 27 from 5 to 6 p.m., with last admission at 4:30 p.m.

To view the complete Vatican Museum calendar for the next two years, please visit the official website. White indicates regular days, green – days with free admission, yellow – days when the museum additionally operates in the evening hours from 19:00 to 23:00, and red – days when the museum is closed.

Sistine Chapel from outside

Sistine Chapel tickets, price in 2022

Tickets and tours can be booked on the official website of the Vatican Museum. It is not possible to visit the Sistine Chapel alone, you must buy a general museum ticket.

Tickets for the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums

  • A standard admission ticket to the Vatican Museum costs 17 €.
  • A “no queue” ticket through online booking costs 21 €.
  • A discount ticket is 8 €. Privileges are valid for children from 6 to 18 years, priests and seminarians, former or current Vatican employees, and students up to and including 25 years of age with a document.
  • A preferential ticket “without queue” costs 12 €.
  • For primary and secondary school students in organized groups the ticket costs 4 € per student. For 10 children’s tickets there is one free ticket for the teacher. Group visits must be booked in advance with all participants, and an official certified paper from the school with the same list must be brought on the day of the visit.
  • Ticket “without queue” for schoolchildren in organized groups – 6 €.
  • Audioguide (for those who wish) – 7 €.
  • Audio guide for children from 6 to 12 years – 5 €.
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The main entrance to the Vatican Museum on Google Panoramas:

Where is the Sistine Chapel, how to get there

The Sistine Chapel building is to the right of St. Peter’s Basilica, but you can only get there through the main entrance to the Vatican Museum from the Viale Vaticano. To get to the Sistine Chapel you will have to cross more than a dozen other halls.

How to get to the Vatican Museum by metro

The closest station is Cipro (line A, orange line), the distance to the entrance to the museum is about 10 minutes. Another nearest station is Ottaviano (line A, orange line), it takes about 5 minutes to walk to the Vatican Museum.

How to get to the Vatican Museum by bus or streetcar

Take bus number 49, which stops in front of the Vatican Museum, or buses 32, 81, 982, stop Piazza del Risorgimento and buses 492, 990, stop in Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni.

You can take streetcar 19 to the stop on Piazza del Risorgimento.

Other ways to get to the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican

You can take a regular cab or call one through the Uber app or similar.

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