Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica
What we call the Vatican Museums were, from the 1400s on, the sprawling Papal Palaces where the Popes used to live, dine, receive ambassadors, study late into the night, and entertain. The Palaces are not unified architecturally: they are the product of hundreds of years of changing tastes and styles, and a reflection of unfolding needs and concerns.
During our visit, we’ll focus on an ancient Greek and Roman sculpture gallery, founded by Pope Julius II in the early 1500s. Many visitors will recognize Laocoon, the Trojan high priest, as he attempts to disentangle himself and his two sons from a pair of serpents. This ancient sculpture is just one of many world-famous artworks in the Vatican collections. Others will be stunned by the so-called Apollo Belvedere, an ancient Roman sculpture which inspired later artists like Michelangelo and Bernini!
Moving on to other splendidly decorated rooms and hallways, we can pit-stop in Raphael’s rooms (if time and energy allow), before ogling at the Sistine Chapel.
Sensory overload will compel us to take a deep breath before plunging into what was the largest church in the world until not long ago, Saint Peter’s Basilica. Here we’ll learn about its art and history, paying honor to Michelangelo’s Pieta’ and Bernini’s Canopy.
Tickets for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are easily pre-purchased to avoid the risk of standing in line. For more information about pre-purchasing surcharges, please see “the costs” section of this webpage. Children are eligible for a student discount together with young adults (under the age of 26) with a valid student ID. Saint Peter’s Basilica is free of charge.