Vatican City is an enclave in the urban fabric of the city of Rome, the smallest independent state in the world, both in terms of population (800 inhabitants) and territorial extension (0.44 km²). It has a system of absolute monarchy with the Pope as head; the official languages are Italian for the Vatican and Latin for the Holy See.
This small state is home to the Vatican Museums: one of the largest art collections in the world. Founded by Pope Julius II in the 16th century, when the newly elected pope placed a statue of Apollo in the courtyard of the Belvedere Palace and began collecting sculptures, his example has been followed over the centuries by other popes.
Thus, its enormous collection of works of art, make this museum a museum complex of great importance both for its beauty and for its wealth. Composed of a set of rooms, halls, museums, galleries, chapels, libraries, finally of the Renaissance, there is not an artist who has not left a “little” of his genius in one of the many works that we find today in the Museum. By comparison, the Louvre Museum in Paris is 7,000 meters long, while this museum is 7,600 meters long.
In 2019, 7 million people passed through this museum, making it the most visited “Italian” museum, even though it is not actually considered part of the territory belonging to the Italian Republic.
The museums are divided, with their different sections where you can visit galleries on Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek and Roman art, as well as a set of four rooms decorated by Raphael (including the classic painting School of Athens), the papal apartments with frescoes by Michelangelo and Raphael and many other small historical and ethnological museums.
Broadly speaking, the museum is composed as follows:
Composed of over 800 Greek-Roman works and 5,000 pagan and Christian inscriptions.
Pio Clementino Museum
Formed by so many neo-classical works, as well as the sarcophagus of St. Helena and St. Costanza, daughter of Emperor Constantine ;
The rooms of Rafael
When Raphael arrived in Rome, he was introduced to Julius II, who decided to commission Raphael to fresco some rooms, including the School of Athens, where the artist represents philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato and Socrates ;
First in Europe in terms of age, richness of manuscripts and rare bibliographies, we can see among so many rarities, the code of the Bible of the fourth century, the Gospel of St. Matthew of the sixth century and many others.
The Sistine Chapel, which received this name in 1881 because of Sisto IV – the pope who rebuilt the old Magna Chapel of the Apostolic Palace. The frescoes on the ceiling, which depict scenes from Genesis, were painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512; while the paintings you’ll see on the side walls were done by artists such as Ghirlandaio and Botticelli, moreover, as you know, the Sistine Chapel is famous all over the world for being the place where the conclave has been gathered since the 15th century for the election of new popes!
A curiosity of the museum appeared when in May 1938, Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, arrived in Rome as a guest of King Victor Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini. Not only did Pope Pius XI refuse to receive him, but he moved into the country house of Castel Gandolfo for a few days and ordered that the museum and the basilica remain closed while the Führer was in Rome. Thus, not only would the German never be able to enter Vatican territory, but he would also never be able to visit the collections of the famous museum!
How to get to the museum
Admission: from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (the museum closes at 6:00 pm) and is open from Monday to Saturday.
Price: 17 euros. The museum is not open on Sundays,
00120 Vatican City, Vatican City State