- Location: In Vatican Museums, Vatican City in Rome
- Attraction type: Historic Chapel
- Significance: Ceiling and walls painted mainly by Michelangelo, and also by Botticelli, Roselli, and Perugino
- Best Time to visit: Middle of March to end October
- How to Reach: By Metro to San Pietro or Ottaviano Stations
- Nearest Airport: Rome Fiumicino International Airpirt
Sistine Chapel is one place which, according to Goethe’s observation, one cannot get to learn about the capability of one man’s achievement unless he/she sees it. One just cannot but be speechless by this wondrous artistic creation of Michelangelo Buonarroti. Vatican Sistine Chapel is more of a symbol of papal authority than an expression of a genius’ artwork.
In 1475 Pope Sixtus IV commissioned Sistine Chapel as the pope’s chapel and the place of papal elections. Subsequently in 1483, it was consecrated and dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Initially the walls of Sistine Chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica were fresco painted by Cosimo Rosselli, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, and Domenico Ghirlandaio. The ceiling was painted by Piero Matteo d’Amelia.
Michelengelo was appointed by Pope Julius II della Rovere in 1508 to paint the ceiling afresh. Though he was asked to paint the figures of the Twelve Apostles, Michelangelo finished with painting more than three hundred images. ‘The Creation of Adam’, ‘Creation of the Sun and Moon and Plants’, and ‘the Fall and Expulsion from the Garden of Eden’ are among Michelangelo’s masterpieces painted on the ceiling. He completed these paintings between 1508 and 1512. It was painstaking for Michelangelo to complete this assignment as he had to do his job lying on scaffolding. He was once again called by Pope Paul III Farnese in 1535 to paint the phenomenal ‘Last Judgment’ on the altar wall. This largest single fresco of incredible beauty and brilliance was completed in 1541.
The lower side walls were painted by Raphael between 1515 and 1519 depicting incidents from the Acts and the Gospels.
Visiting Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel, though not much of an architectural splendor, is based on King Solomon’s Temple with a simple rectangular shape. With a length of 40.93 meters, width of 13.41 meters and a height of 20.70 meters, the structure resembles a flattened barrel vault. Along the sides there are six windows, and the walls are totally covered with fresco paintings representing happenings from the ‘Old Testament’ and ‘The New Testament’. Above the biblical scenes you would notice the portraits of popes starting with Peter.
The creations of Michelangelo in Sistine Chapel can be divided into nine sections: the Genesis, corner pendentives, bronze nudes, triangular spandrels with bronze nudes, ignudi, sybils, prophets, and medallions. Apart from the paintings of Michelangelo, Botticelli’s ‘The Punishment of Korah’, Roselli’s ‘Moses Parting the Red Sea’, and Perugino’s ‘Christ Gives the Keys to Peter’ are unforgettable.
Accommodation and Dining in Vatican
For visiting Sistine Chapel it is advisable to stay near Vatican City. In this area you might select from Cardinal Hotel St. Peter, Pinewood Hotel Rome, Hotel Alessandrino, Hotel Clodio, Hotel Cicerone, Vatican’s House B & B, 207 Inn, and Hotel San Pietro Rooms. Restaurants in Vatican cater to all your culinary requirements while visiting Sistine Chapel. La Pergola, Pauline Borghese, and La Veranda specialize in Italian cuisine. For Mediterranean recipes visit La Grande Place Du Soleil, while Les Etoiles serves exotic International dishes.