Vatican Museums: Sistine Chapel (1)
Vatican Museums: Sistine Chapel (2)
Vatican Museums: Sistine Chapel (3)
Vatican Museums: Sistine Chapel (4)
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The Ultimate destination

The ultimate destination for visitors to the Vatican Museums, is the Sistine Chapel. The flow of visitors walking through the museums is strategically organised so that everyone passes through the chapel on their way out of the museum.

After passing through many long corridors and halls of what seems like an endless number of sculptures, tapestries and frescoes, the entry to the Sistine Chapel is narrow and very crowded with people trying to cram into the small dark space.

The chapel is revered, and silence is requested and expected. Inside the enclosed and sometimes claustrophobia space, visitors whisper in awe and try to temper their delight to be standing below one of the greatest works of art of all time, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, as they marvel at the frescos painted by Michelangelo.

In person, the ceilings are magnificent. Seeing the various pictorials of biblical stories as flat images pales in comparison to seeing them in real life and in situ. The colours are vivid and fresh. Innovative for its time, Michelangelo rendered the characters in perspective, vastly more three dimensional than in paintings by his contemporaries. The characters are larger than life, fleshy, full, and muscular. They have weight and the gravitas of sculptures.

Michelangelo’s frescos tell the story of the creation, and his depiction of the last judgment on the alter wall tells the story of salvation. Other biblical stories from the old and new testaments were painted on the wall underneath the ceiling by other great Renaissance painters, such as Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Cosimo Rosselli and Domenico Ghirlandaio. Together, these images are considered one of the most striking collections of sacred imagery and biblical tales in one location.