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Visiting the Vatican Museums in 2014

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Date: 2014-05-06 12:45:02


Author: Samuel Heenan

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Visiting the Vatican Museums 

First of all when planning your trip to Rome no visit to the Eternal City would be complete without exploring the treasures of the Vatican Museums.

The Vatican Museums originated as a group of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II (1503-1513) and placed in what today is the Cortile Ottagono” within the museum complex and today the museums are over 9 miles (14,5 kilometers) long.

The "Musei Vaticani" in italian, are home to the huge art collection of Christian art gathered over the centuries by the Roman Catholic Church.  they contain some of the world's greatest examples of painting, sculpture, tapestry and other decorative arts. Visited annually by over 4 million visitors, the Vatican Museums include 54 separate galleries, including some of the finest High Renaissance art in the Sistine Chapel frescoes, with its Genesis and Last Judgment frescoes painted by Michelangelo, and the Raphael Rooms, decorated by Raphael.

When deciding on your visit please check the opening times as the museums are closed for various religious festivals and on sundays apart from the last sunday of each month in which the museums open for free to the public.

Around Rome Tours - Vatican Timetable

 January'14 Closed Dates 1st, 5th, 6th, 12th, 19th                    FREE ENTRANCE: 26th

 February'14 Closed Dates 2nd, 9th, 11th, 16th                         FREE ENTRANCE: 23rd

 March'14 Closed Dates 2nd, 9th, 16th, 19th, 23rd                    FREE ENTRANCE: 30th

 April'14 Closed Dates 6th, 13th,20th,21st                                 FREE ENTRANCE: 27th

 May'14 Closed Dates 1st, 4th, 11th, 18th                                  FREE ENTRANCE: 25th

 June'14 Closed Dates 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th

 July'14 Closed Dates 6th, 13th, 20th                                         FREE ENTRANCE: 27th

 August'14 Closed Dates 3rd, 10th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 24th       FREE ENTRANCE: 31st

 September'14 Closed Dates 7th, 14th, 21st                              FREE ENTRANCE: 28th

 October'14 Closed Dates 5th, 12th, 19th                                  FREE ENTRANCE: 26th

 November'14 Closed Dates 1st, 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd               FREE ENTRANCE: 30th

 Decemeber'14 Closed Dates 7th, 8th, 14th, 21st, 25th, 26th  FREE ENTRANCE: 28th


Once you have you decided when you wish to visit you will need to take into consideration the fact that as the major tourist attaction in Rome the Vatican Museums lets in upto 30,000 visitors per day. Considering this and the fact that there is only one main entrance it can lead to long lines especially on the free sundays, in the summer months from April to Oct and religious periods such as Easter, Xmas. In these high season periods the lines can be upto 2 hours long so be prepared to wait especially in the morning times. In the low/winter season the lines are generally not as long and you should not wait longer that 20 minutes.

Entrance Prices

Full price ticket: Euro 16,00.

Reduced ticket: Euro 8,00. (Children from 6 - 18 years old  and students under 26 years old on presentation of a valid International Student Card or a student identity document on the day of the visit).

Child 0-5 Years Old: FREE

These prices are applicable to visitors who make the normal entrance taking the lines.

A second option is to book your tickets in advance directly through the Vatican website using the Vatican website you can reserve your tickets online in which the same prices apply as the normal entrance fee + a 4 euro booking fee added to the price for the online booking. When booking this ticket you will need to choose your entrance time to the museum and then you can can enter directly at this time without waiting in line. Note that the museum is strict regarding your selected entrance time so do not be late.

A third option would be to book the Vatican Museums skip the line tickets which consisits of a prebooked flexible skip the line ticket in wich costs 30 Euros per adult and 20 Euros reduced and free for children from 0-5 Years old. The benefit of this type of entrance is that the ticket is flexible so you can collect your ticket 50 metres from the vatican museums entrance and then use to enter and pass the lines whenever it suits you. This ticket has the added bonus of offering a free transfer from St Peter's square to the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano where you also have the audioguide included to the visit of this basilica. Here you can book this Vatican Museums Skip the line ticket.

Finally if you prefer to be taken around the museums with full access and registered tour guide to give you the histry and insight you can always book a tour of the museums. You can join a mixed group to make the visit of 3-4 hours costing approx 50, 00 Euros per person Vatican Museums Tour or if you prefer to have your own private guide for the visit the VIP offer will start from 270,00 Euro in total for 2 people with tickets and guide included - for full details see Vatican Museums Private Tour

Dress Code and taking Photo's

Obviously in the summer months with the heat in Rome often into the 30s visitors like to explore the city in shorts and t-shirts. The Vatican Museums however have a strict dress code so please remember to dress appropriately when making your visit as they will refuse you entry if you are not in the correct attire. As long as you follow the guidelines or remember to bring a scarf to cover your shoulders. Inside the museums you are welcome to take photo's however it is forbidden to use your flash and no photography is allowed inside the Sistine Chapel.

Around Rome Tours -Vatican Dress Code

Please remember also to have a good breakfast if you are visiting in the morning as the museums are big and when visiting the vatican museums, the sistine chapel and onto the Basilica of St Peter's means you wont be having lunch until the early afternoon. It is also advisable not to bring a backpack to the museums as you would have to check the bag in which can be time consuming upon enetering and when leaving the museums.

Ok so now you've managed to make your way into the Museums and your going it alone without the aid of a guide. A common mistake made by visitors is too rush to towards the Sistine Chapel and ignoring the incredible artwork along the way. So take your time and enjoy the museums in their entirety.

Let begin with a guide of what you will see inside the museums in no parlicular order.

1. The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is named after his commissioner, Sixtus IV della Rovere (1471-1484), who decided to have a large room built where the “Cappella Magna” once stood. The “Cappella Magna” was a mediaeval fortified hall that the Papal Court used for assemblies.Its construction started in 1475, during the Jubilee Year proclaimed by Sixtus IV, and ended in 1483, when on August 15th the Pope solemnly inaugurated the new Chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. Inside the chapel you will find the famous work of Michelangelo and one of the most important painting cycles in the world, covering 800 sq metres of wall with “good fresco” painting. It was begun in May 1508, and then stopped for about a year between September 1510 and August 1511. The chapel was solemnly inaugurated by Julius II on November 1st, 1512.

2. Pinacoteca

The building of the Pinacoteca, completed in 1931, was commissioned by Pius IX (1922 -1939), expressly to house a collection of paintings, belonging to various popes and started by Pius VI (1775-1799). Many of the paintings on exhibit were taken to Paris by Napoleon in 1797, but returned to Italy after the Congress of Vienna (1815), thanks also to the intercession of the sculptor Antonio Canova. The works, covering a period from the Middle Ages to 1800, are set in chronological order, in eighteen rooms.

3. Raphael’s Rooms

The “Vatican Rooms” were actually the apartments of Pope Julius II (1503-1513), who did not want to live in the rooms inhabited by his predecessor Alexander VI and frescoed by Pinturicchio, and, therefore, moved to the floor above into a wing built by Nicholas V in the 15th century. More famous artists such as Raphael’s master, Perugino, had already worked on the rooms, but Pope Julius II gave Raphael (1483-1520) complete license and he erased all previous work.

4. Vatican Courtyards

The Courtyard of the “Pigna” is named after a colossal bronze pinecone, almost 4 metres high, which, in the classic age, stood near the Pantheon in Rome, known as the “Pigna quarter”; it was probably first moved to the atrium of the ancient St Peter’s Basilica during the Middle Ages and then moved here in 1608. Two bronze peacocks, copies of 2nd century A.D. originals in the Braccio Nuovo, flank the pinecone.
In the middle of the wide-open space are two concentric spheres by sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro (1990).

5. Gallery of Maps

This part of the museums takes its name from the 40 maps frescoed on the walls, which represent the Italian regions and the papal properties at the time of Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585). They were painted between 1580 and 1585 on drawings by Ignazio Danti, a famous geographer of the time. Considering the Apennines as a partition element, on one side the regions surrounded by the Ligure and Tyrrhenian Seas are represented; on the other, the regions surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. The map of the main city accompanies each regional map.

6. Gallery of Tapestries

Flemish tapestries, realized in Brussels by Pieter van Aelst’s School from drawings by Raphael’s pupils, during the pontificate of Clement VII (1523-1534), hang on the walls. They were first shown in the Sistine Chapel in 1531, and arranged for the exhibition in this Gallery in 1838.

7. Pius-Clementine Museum

The Pius Clementine Museum was founded by Clement XIV and Pius VI to preserve Greek and Roman masterpieces; from the works of Lisippo to the Apollo of the Belvedere from the Agora of Athens, to the celebrated Laocoonte, enclosed in the splendid architecture of Bramante. The Chiaramonti Museum is named after pope Pius VII who had it built. It houses about a thousand items: sarcophagi imperial portraits and statues of deities, arranged in a long gallery decorated in 1807 by the sculptor Antonio Canova.

8. The Immaculate Conception and Sobieski Rooms

The Sobieski Room derives its name from the large painting by the Polish painter Jean Matejko (1838-1893), which represents Polish King John III Sobieski’s victory over the Turks in Vienna in 1683. All the other paintings in the room date from the 19th century, as well as those in the Room of the Immaculate.

9. Gallery of the Candelabra

Originally an open loggia built in 1761, the loggia was walled up at the end of the 18th century. The ceiling was painted in 1883-1887. The gallery contains Roman copies of Hellenistic originals (3rd-2nd century B.C.) and some great 2nd century candelabra, from Otricoli.

10. Egyptian Museum

The museum was founded by Gregory XVI (1831-1846) in the Lateran Palace in 1884 and John XXIII had it relocated in the Vatican in 1970. It contains Greek original works, Roman copies and sculptures dating from the 1st to the 3rd c. A.D. The most famous group is Athena and Marsyas, a copy of a Greek original by Myron (c. 450 B.C.). Inaugurated by Pius XI in 1926, this museum was also moved from the Lateran Palace. The collection consists of artworks and historical vestiges from missions all over the world.

11. Etruscan Museum

Founded in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI, the museum contains vases, bronzes and other archaeological findings from southern Etruria, a large collection of Hellenistic Italian vases and some Roman pieces (Antiquarium Romanorum). In Room II is the notable Regolini-Galassi tomb and Rooms IV-VIII, known as of the “Precious”, exhibit gold jewellery realized by Etruscan goldsmiths during the ten centuries of their civilization.

Hope this information helps you for when visiting the Vatican Museums.


You may also be interested in:

Best Vatican Tours - Your options when visiting the Vatican City and Museums

Vatican Museums Tour

Vatican Museums Private Tour

Interesting Facts about the Vatican in Rome



The Vatican museums are over 9 miles (14,5 kilometers) long - See more at:
The Vatican museums are over 9 miles (14,5 kilometers) long - See more at:
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Guest Comments:

Christian Hatton on 09/01/2014 at 11:06:46 wrote:

Great info thanks a lot. Will be visiting in the summer. Just a question, if i take the skip the line ticket to the museums i can skip the line at St Peter's too?

Reply: Hi Christian, thanks for the comment. With the skip the line ticket you do not have access to skip the line also of St Peter's Basilica however if you take the skip the line tour you can as the tour guide has access to take you through

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