The Vatican Museums contain a vast store of artworks which range from the ancient to the contemporary, including the world famous Sistine Chapel. Touring the Vatican Museums can easily take two hours or more, so it is imperative that you have an action plan when you visit. Here is a list of the top attractions to look for when you visit the Vatican Museums. For a complete list, see the Vatican Museums website.
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The Vatican Museums' curators were wise to put the Sistine Chapel at the end of the museum tour, as it is the absolute highlight of the visit. Here you can take in the majesty of Michelangelo's ceiling and altar frescoes as well as paintings by other Renaissance greats such as Perugino, Botticelli, and Rosselli.
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Raphael worked on the mesmerizing frescoes in these four rooms – the apartments of Pope Julius II – while Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel. The paintings include several significant scenes from Christian history. The most famous room of all is the Room of the Segnatura, in which Raphael painted The School of Athens, a scene that incorporates the likenesses of Raphael's artistic contemporaries, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
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The artist Pinturicchio painted the rich frescoes in the Borgia Apartments, the area on the first floor where Pope Alexander VI lived. The rich, colorful frescoes depict scenes from Egyptian and Greek mythology and speak to the lavishness of the Vatican Palace.
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Gallery of Maps
This incredible hall has maps frescoed on both walls showing various parts of Italy from the 16th century. These historically significant frescoes of the Italian cities, the countryside, and geographical features, such as the Apennine Mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea, are a joy to inspect, as is the gallery's sumptuously decorated coffered ceiling.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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Some of the most beautiful and vibrant 15th-century frescoes, painted by Fra Angelico and Benozzo Gozzoli, are in the diminutive Niccoline Chapel. Named for Pope Nicholas V, who worshiped here, this chapel is located in one of the oldest parts of the papal palace.
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Greek and Roman Antiquities
The Pio-Clementine and the Gregorian Profane Museums are dedicated to treasures of antiquity. Highlights include the Apollo del Belvedere, "a supreme ideal" of classical art; the Laocoön, a large marble composition from 1st century A.D.; the Belvedere Torso, a Greek sculpture from the 1st century B.C.; the Discus Thrower, a 5th century B.C. representation of an discus athlete in movement; and a collection of Roman mosaics.
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