Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

Discover the stunning interiors with attractive paintings.
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Regarded as one of Rome's greatest treasures, Sistine Chapel at the Vatican City is a beguiling attraction that will leave you mesmerized. This 15th century Sistine Chapel, located in the Vatican Museums, is the official residence of the Pope and houses all important conclave meetings. Hence, the Chapel holds remarkable significance both for the people of Catholic faith and those who love art. It is a rectangular brick building with six arched windows and an unassuming exterior. The architecture is not what is so splendid about Sistine Chapel Rome but it is the gorgeous interiors adorned with attractive paintings. Known popularly as Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is its major highlight. The impressive ceiling of the Chapel is ornamented with enticing frescoes by Michelangelo which illustrate the stories from the Bible. The painting of The Last Judgement, on the altar behind the walls, fascinates the visitors who stand in awe gazing at this beautiful magnum opus by Michelangelo. The side walls of the Chapel are equally important with stunning artworks by the early renaissance artists. You can spot paintings about Jesus and Moses on the northern, southern and eastern walls that extend till the Sistine Chapel Entrance.

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Sistine Chapel Highlights

Sistine Chapel
  • Visit the majestic Sistine Chapel Rome which is the official residence of the Pope.

  • Witness and marvel at the beautiful fresco painting drawn by Michelangelo illustrating the Last Judgement which covers the entire altar on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

  • You can also view the artworks depicting the life of Moses and Christ on the walls of the Chapel sketched by famous renaissance artists like Perugino, Pinturicchio and Ghirlandaio.

  • Take a tour around the other rooms in the Vatican Museum including Stanza della Segnatura, Stanze di Raffaello and The Vatican Pinacotheca.

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Explore Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel Ceiling

The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, which is the iconic feature of the Chapel, looks like a flattened barrel arch that has been cut diagonally by smaller vaults. The ceiling is adorned with gorgeous fresco artworks painted by Michelangelo at the command of Pope Julius II. Painted between 1508 and 1512, the frescoes found on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling and on the west wall behind the altar are:

  • Nine central stories from the Genesis
  • The Last Judgement
  • Twelve Prophets and Sibyls
  • Salvation of the people of Israel on the four corner Pendentives
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Sistine Chapel
The Last Judgement

The Last Judgement is a magnificent painting by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling that was carried out between 1536 and 154. The painting features the figure of Christ at the centre, next to which is the figure of Mary around whom the Saints including St. Peter, Set. Sebastian, St. Laurence, and St. Bartholomew are painted. The lower part includes the paintings of the angles of the Apocalypse and the risen who are trying to recover their bodies as they ascend to heaven.

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 Sistine Chapel
The North Wall of Sistine Chapel

The North Wall represents paintings about the Story of Jesus distributed over eight panels. The frescoes portray

  • Baptism of Christ
  • Temptation of Christ
  • Cleansing of the Leper
  • Vocation of the Apostles
  • The Sermon on the Mount
  • The Delivery of the Keys
  • The Last Supper

You can also see paintings about the Agony in the Garden, the Arrest of Jesus, and the Crucifixion beyond the windows in the North Wall. The cycle ends with the resurrection of Christ on the entrance wall.

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Sistine Chapel
The South Wall of Sistine Chapel

The South Wall is decorated with paintings depicting the story of Moses which consists of eight panels. However, the first fresco portraying the Birth and Finding of Moses by Perugino was found lost. The altar on the south wall consists of the paintings about

  • Moses Leaving to Egypt
  • The Trials of Moses
  • The Crossing of Red Sea
  • Handing over the Tablets of Law
  • Descent from Mount Sinai
  • Punishment of the Rebels
  • Testament and Death of Moses
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History of Sistine Chapel

The construction of Sistine Chapel commenced in the year 1473 by Pope Sixtus IV over the site of an existing medieval chapel. The crumbling remains of the old chapel were removed and the interiors underwent several renovations and adornment. Originally known as Cappella Magna, the Chapel was later renamed as Sistine Chapel taking its name from Pope Sixtus IV who built it. The walls of the Sistine Chapel were decorated with beautiful fresco paintings about the life of Moses and Christ. Renowned renaissance artists of the time including Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Perugino, Rosselli and Pinturicchio came together to create these striking artworks on the eastern, northern and southern walls which were completed by 1482. The ceiling was then painted like a blue night sky full of stars. But, the star-filled ceiling was later repainted in 1508 by Michelangelo as per the instruction of Pope Julius II. Michelangelo sketched the ceiling with gorgeous fresco paintings which portray the mythical stories from the Bible from 1508 and 1512. He again came back during 1535 to 1541 to draw his masterpiece, The Last Judgement under the patronage of Pope Clement VII and Paul III.

Know Before You Go

Timings
How to Reach
Rules and Regulations

Operating hours:

  • Monday to Saturday – 9 AM to 6 PM

The last admission to Sistine Chapel closes at 4 PM.

  • During April to October, the closing time is extended till 10:30 PM on Fridays and Saturdays and final entry is accepted till 8:30 PM.

  • The Sistine Chapel timings on the last Sunday of every month is from 9 AM to 2 PM with the last entry closing by 12:30 PM.

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Sistine Chapel FAQs

Why is the Sistine Chapel so famous?

The Sistine Chapel is one of the proudest features of the Vatican City that is highly famous for its beautiful renaissance artworks by painters like Botticelli and Rosselli. The Chapel is also popular for the breathtaking fresco paintings on the ceiling by Michelangelo which depict the tales from the Bible.

How long should you spend at the Sistine Chapel?

A complete guided tour around all the rooms of the Sistine Chapel takes about three hours. Even without a guide, it will take at least two hours to explore the Sistine Chapel.

Is there a dress code for the Sistine Chapel?

Visitors of the Sistine Chapel are expected to dress modestly with clothes that do not leave their lower legs and shoulders bare. It is preferable to wear long trousers, long-sleeved shirts and open-toed sandals. Miniskirts, sleeveless tops, miniskirts and hats are not allowed.

Can you take pictures in the Sistine Chapel?

No, you cannot take pictures or record videos with any type of electronic equipment inside the Sistine Chapel. However, you can click photos elsewhere in the museum but without flash.

Who painted the walls of the Sistine Chapel?

The side walls of the Sistine Chapel were painted by the early renaissance Italian artists including Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli. The right wall was painted to depict stories about Moses and the left wall has paintings portraying the life of Jesus. The ceiling of the Chapel was painted by Michelangelo.

Who is buried in the Sistine Chapel?

No one is buried in the Sistine Chapel. Pope Julius II, who commissioned the work of painting the ceiling of the Chapel to Michelangelo, is buried ST. Peter’s Basilica which is close to the Sistine Chapel.

Why is it called Sistine Chapel?

Sistine Chapel, which was originally called Cappella Magna, was later renamed after Pope Sixtus IV who commissioned the reconstruction work of the Chapel. Sixtus in Italian translates to ‘Sisto’ and hence it was named as Sistine Chapel.

How old is the Sistine Chapel?

The Sistine Chapel was built between the years 1473 and 1481 which means the Sistine Chapel is 549 years old.

Why was the Sistine Chapel built?

The Sistine Chapel was built by Pope Sixtus IV who wanted to recreate the Salomon’s Temple of Jerusalem with the same dimensions as mentioned in the bible. Thus, he commenced the construction of the Sistine Chapel to recreate the face of Rome and to celebrate the erection of a new bridge, Ponte Sisto over the river Tiber.

What is so special about the Sistine Chapel?

The Sistine Chapel, located at the heart of the Vatican City, is Italy’s most iconic landmark that lures millions of tourists. The Chapel is so special because of the beautiful frescoes covering the ceiling and side walls. The site is used by Sacred College of Cardinals to elect a new Pope when there is a vacancy and for principal papal ceremonies.

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