We visited the Vatican Museums primarily to see the Sistine Chapel. Last time I visited, I spent a whole day getting lost in the works of Raphael, Michelangelo and still didn’t get to see everything. We were on a tight schedule that day so we had to choose what we really wanted to see – we chose the Sistine Chapel. I wish my husband had seen the sculpture of Laocoön! I caught a quick glimpse of it through the crowds, but when I turned around to show him, he was already walking out of the Octagonal Courtyard. How relevant is Laocoön to the collection at the Vatican Museum you ask? It was the first piece that started the entire collection 500 years ago! The Museums are 506 years old!
In the Octagonal Courtyard of Pius-Clementine Museum, you will see the marble statue of Apollo, a Roman 2nd century copy of a lost Greek bronze. This statue is influential to say the least and has been sketched and copied by many artists.
Another memorable part of the Museums is the Gallery of Maps which takes its name from the frescoes of different regions of Italy at the time of Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585). But what really stands out in this room is the vaulted ceiling that is covered with such brilliant colours! Make sure you walk in the right direction for the full effect! Check out the photo below.
Here are a few more works from the Museums – intricate Roman mosaic floors,
the Goddess of Fertility (my husband got a kick out of this one),
torso of Hercules,
and this one which I can’t find any reference for!
This is the last view from the window just before you enter the Sistine Chapel. That’s Michelangelo’s dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
When we finally got to enter the Sistine Chapel, I couldn’t believe I was actually seeing it again. It was an emotional moment. No photos or video are allowed to be taken inside the chapel as a media company from Japan owns the printing rights (they paid for the renovation). There are official shushers inside. All they do is yell, “Shhhh. Quiet please. Shhhh… Silenzio” My husband does a really good imitation – haha!
On our way out, we took the Spiral Double Helix Staircase designed Giuseppe Momo in 1932. There’s a great photo on this site http://www.oddee.com/item_96882.aspx of the double helix. As we left, we promised ourselves that we would return very soon.