Vatican Museums in Vatican City in Rome

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Vatican Museums

Gallery of Maps in Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Rome
The Gallery of Maps in Vatican Museums, Vatican City - Rome

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Viale Vaticano - 00165
00120 Città del Vaticano - Roma (Italy)
Tel. +39 06.69884947 - Fax +39 06.69885061
Opening time:
From April 1 to October 31: 8.45-16.45
From November 1 to March 31: 8.45-13.45
Closed all Sundays and holidays,
except for the last Sunday of the month
when the Musei are open with free admission.

The Vatican Museums are among the greatest museums in the world, since they display works from the immense collection built up by Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries. Pope Julius II founded the museums in the 16th century. The Sistine Chapel and the Stanze della Segnatura decorated by Raphael (Raphael Rooms) are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums.The most important works are:

  • The Sistine Chapel
  • The Raphael Rooms with many works by Raphael and his workshop, including the masterpiece The School of Athens
  • Several paintings by Caravaggio including the majestic Entombment (1602 - 1603)
  • Works by painters Fra Angelico, Giotto, Raphael, Nicolas Poussin and Titian;
  • Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Saint Jerome;
  • The red marble papal throne, formerly in the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano;
  • Roman sculpture, tombstones, and inscriptions, including the Early Christian Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus and Dogmatic sarcophagus, and the epitaph of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus;
  • The Niccoline Chapel
  • The Gallery of Maps: topographical maps of the whole of Italy, painted on the walls by friar Ignazio Danti of Perugia, commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII (1572–1585). This gallery is situated at the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard. It is 120 m long. It took Ignazio Danti three years (1580–1583) to complete the 40 panels. The decorations on the vaulted ceiling is the work of a group of Mannerist artists (such as Cesare Nebbia and Girolamo Muziano).

Pinacoteca Vaticana

The idea of an art gallery, understood in the modern sense as an exhibition open to the public, was only born in 1817 after the fall of Napoleon and the consequent return to the Church State of a large part of the works belonging to it, according to the directions of the Congress of Vienna. The collection continued to grow over the years through donations and purchases until it reached the current nucleus of 460 paintings, distributed among the eighteen rooms on the basis of chronology and school, from the so-called Primitives (12th-13th century) to the 19th century.

The collection contains some masterpieces of the greatest artists of the history of Italian painting, from Giotto to Beato Angelico, from Melozzo da Forlì to Perugino and to Raphael, from Leonardo to Tiziano, to Veronese, to Caravaggio and to Crespi.

Collection of Modern Religious Art

The Collection of Modern Religious Art houses paintings and sculptures from artists like Carlo Carrà and Giorgio de Chirico.

Sculpture museums

The group of museums includes several sculpture museums surrounding the Cortile del Belvedere.

Museo Pio-Clementino

Pope Clement XIV founded the Pio-Clementino Vatican museum in 1771, and originally it contained the Renaissance and antique works. The museum and collection were enlarged by Clement's successor Pius VI. Today, the museum houses works of Greek and Roman sculpture. There are 54 galleries, or "salas" in total, with the Sistine Chapel, notably, being the very last sala within the Museum - visitors need to proceed through the other 53 salas before earning their reward with access to the Sistine. Some notable galleries are:

  • Gallery of the Statues (Galleria delle Statue): Houses, as says its name, important statues like Ariadne sleeping and Meandrus. It also houses the Barberini Candelabrums.
  • Sala a Croce Greca: which houses the sarcophagus of Constance and Saint Helen, daughter and mother of Constantine the Great.
  • Sala Rotonda: holding several ancient mosaics and statues.
  • Mask Cabinet (Gabinetto delle Maschere): The name comes from the mosaic in the floor of the gallery, found in Villa Adriana, which represents several masks. Along the walls, several famous statues are shown like the Three Graces.
  • Bust Gallery (Galleria dei Busti): Several busts are displayed.
  • Sala degli Animali: So named because of the several statues of animals that it houses.
  • Sala delle Muse: Houses the group statues of Apollo and the nine muses. Statues from important Greek sculptors are exhibited.

Museo Chiaramonti

This museum is named after Pope Pius VII (whose last name was Chiaramonti before his election as pope), who founded it in the early 1800s. The museum consists of a large arched gallery in which sides are exhibited several statues, sarcophaguses and friezes. The New Wing, Braccio Nuovo built by Raphael Stern, houses important statues like The Prima Porta Augustus and The River Nile. Galeria Lapidaria is another part of Chiaramonti museum, with more than 3,000 stone tablets and inscriptions, which is the world's greatest collection of its kind. However, it is opened only by special permission, usually for reasons of study.

Museo Gregoriano Etrusco

Founded by Pope Gregory XIII in 1836, this museum has eight galleries and houses important Etruscan pieces, coming from archaeological excavations. The pieces include: vases, sarcophagus, bronzes and the Guglielmi Collection.

Museo Egiziano

Founded by Pope Gregory XVI, this museum houses a grand collection of Ancient Egyptian material. Such material includes papyruses, the Grassi Collection, animal mummies, and the famous Book of the Dead.