One of Rome’s most visited sites, the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel house enough artwork to keep visitors occupied for years on end. The ticket for the Vatican Museums also includes entrance to the Sistine Chapel (technically located inside the museum) while Saint Peter’s offers free entrance and is located outside the Vatican walls. Thousands of world-renowned pieces of art - including paintings, sculptures, frescoes and tapestries - lie within the vast complex of Vatican City. Measuring just 0.2 square miles, Vatican City is the smallest independent state.
With 1400 rooms, the Vatican museums hold one of the largest art collections in the world. Intricate tapestries, sparkling candelabras and detailed frescoes decorate the many galleries. The Laocoon, an ancient Greek sculpture that inspired Michelangelo, can be found in the Octagonal Courtyard while the Raphael Rooms showcase the Renaissance painter's incredible talent.
The highlight of the museum are Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. A hushed silence falls over the room as visitors stare up at the ceiling, craning their necks to see his famous Creation of Adam while the beauty of The Last Judgement is simply overwhelming as it spans the entirety of the chapel’s back wall. Michelangelo’s artistic genius is truly astounding, especially knowing that painting was not even his preferred art form.
Michelangelo also designed the magnificent dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica, the central figure that dominates Rome’s skyline. It is in the church that the artist's true passion, sculpture, is on display. La Pieta, a moving piece depicting Mary holding the body of Jesus, is the only sculpture Michelangelo ever signed and is now behind bulletproof glass after a visitor defaced the work in 1972. Bernini’s Baldacchino (bronze canopy) mesmerizes visitors as it rises above the papal altar. Experiencing the majestic proportions and inspiring artwork of Saint Peter’s Basilica is simply magical.