Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, Rome – treasures, art and Michelangelo’s secret code

Italy 1400AD-Present-Modern Era Europe
The Pinecone Courtyard Vatican Rome Holiday and Trips, Living life like a holiday
July 2, 2018

Vatican Museums

Opening Year1506
Getting thereCar, plane, train
When to visit
  • There really is no “best” day for visiting the Vatican, when there are fewer people. The Vatican is Rome’s most popular tourist destination and is pretty much always busy. You might consider Tuesday or Thursday as your best bets. Dates around a weekend are a bit busier, and on Wednesday there is (usually) the Papal Audience. In the mornings, most of the tour groups show up, and many people come early to try to “beat the line,” so you may find the Vatican Museums slightly less crowded in the afternoon. As for the time of year, winter low season months are best.
Location in RomeVatican, Italy, Europe


Official website



Tickets / Official website

Bus (stops)
49, in front of the entrance to the Museum
32, 81, 982, Piazza del Risorgimento (end-of-line) (5-minute walk)
492, 990, Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni (5-minute walk).
19, Piazza del Risorgimento (5-minute walk).


Monday – Saturday: entrance from 9 am to 4 pm | closing time at 6 pm (exit from rooms half an hour before closing time)

Closed: Sunday, except the last Sunday of every month (free entrance from 9 am to 12.30 pm and closing at 2 pm), unless it coincides with Easter Sunday, 8th, 25th, and 26th of December, 1st, and 6th of January, 11th of February, 19th of March, 5th, and 6th of April, 1st of May, 29th of June and 15th of August.


The admission ticket to the Vatican Museums includes as well the visit to the Sistine Chapel.

Full:  € 16.00

Reduced: € 8.00

Scholastic Ticket:  € 4.00

* In order to avoid long queues we highly recommend you buy your ticket online with a € 4.00 fee from the official site.

The last Sunday of every month, entrance is free. It will seem obvious, but we remind you that queues increase considerably on this occasion!

Vatican Museums
Fax: +39 06 69885100

Landline phone: +39 06 69883145 | 06 69884676 | information 06 6982

  • The Vatican Museums (Italian: Musei Vaticani) are Christian and art museums located within the city boundaries of the Vatican City.
  • The Vatican Museums trace their origin to one marble sculpture, purchased in the 16th century: Laocoön and His Sons were discovered on 14 January 1506, in a vineyard near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Pope Julius II sent Giuliano da Sangallo and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who was working at the Vatican, to examine the discovery. On their recommendation, the pope immediately purchased the sculpture from the vineyard owner. The pope put the sculpture, which depicts the Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons being attacked by giant serpents, on public display at the Vatican exactly one month after its discovery.
  • Vatican Museums is the fourth-most visited art museum by visitors annually (6,427,277)
  • In 1480 was discovered of a Roman statue, ‘The Apollo of Belvedere’, still one of the highlights of the Vatican Museums. In 1503 Julius II had the statue placed in the Cortile Ottagono, an octagonal courtyard.
  • The Vatican is its own country – and the smallest in the world. This fact is not new to most people, but you are also aware that there are only about 800 residents of this tiny nation with even fewer citizens? Vatican citizenship is not guaranteed by birth, but by appointment, and is terminal, ending when a citizen discontinues residency.
  • The Vatican Museums contain one of the largest art collections in the world, with over 9 miles of pieces, which could wrap four and half times around the Vatican walls. Its 1400 rooms, chapels, and galleries constitute former wings of the Vatican Palace.
  • It’s best not to try and see everything in one visit – the whole route along all the museums is seven kilometers long- but focus on a number of highlights or museums you want to see. And make sure you have some time and energy left over for the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, which are located towards the end of the museum.
  • The Octagon Court (Cortile Ottagonale), the oldest part of the Vatican Museums, contains several masterpieces. Among them the Apollo of Belvedere, another Roman copy of a Greek original by Leochares. The statue of the god Apollo stretching out his arm has been described as the perfection of aesthetics.

Bramante staircase

  • Before exiting the museum you have the chance to admire one of the world’s most famous staircases. Designed in 1932 by Giuseppe Momo, the staircase consists of a double helix, one leading up and one leading down.Vatican Museums, Bramante Staircase, Rome, Holiday and Trips
  • The Vatican Museums contain masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and other works of art collected by the popes through the centuries. The Museums include several monumental works of art, such as the Sistine Chapel, the Chapel of Beato Angelico, the Raphael Rooms and Loggia, and the Borgia Apartment.

Court of the Pinecone (It.: Cortile della Pigna)Fontana della Pigna

  • This central courtyard takes his name from its main feature, the great bronze pine cone located right here. According to a popular medieval legend, the sculpture stood on top of the Pantheon, as a lid for the round opening in the center of the building’s vault. The Pigna is confirmed to have served as a large fountain overflowing with water next to the Temple of Isis in Ancient Rome, however, the gigantic statue now sits directly in front of the Catholic Vatican in the “Court of the Pinecone.”
  • It is considered the largest pine cone statue in the world.
  • What is the symbolic meaning of these pine cones? There is a mystery behind this statue? The answer to this is that pine cones, throughout history, in many cultures, Pinecones have served as a symbolic representation of Human Enlightenment, “pineal gland”, or “Third Eye”, and by association the esoteric act of awakening it. This gland is said to lie at the geometric center of the brain, and considered by some as the biological Third Eye.The Pinecone Courtyard, Vatican, Rome, Holiday and Trips

Sarcophagus of Helena

  • The Sarcophagus of Helena is the red porphyry coffin in which Saint Helena, the mother of emperor Constantine the Great, was buried (died 329). The coffin, deprived of it contents for centuries, was removed from the Mausoleum of Helena at Tor Pignatarra, just outside the walled city of Rome, and ultimately moved to the Vatican museums in the 18th century, and now is in the Sala a Croce Greca of the Pio-Clementine Vatican Museum.Sarcophagus of Helena, Vatican Museums, Rome, Holiday and Trips

Sistine Chapel

Some Surprising Facts about Sistine Chapel

  • Look at the paintings. Michelangelo’s attention to detail is often overlooked by the casual passersby.
  • The tree from which Eve plucks the forbidden fruit is actually a fig tree, not an apple tree, as evidenced by the shapes of its leaves (Jewish mysticism)
  • Cracked has mentioned before that Michelangelo appears to have cleverly painted God to look like a giant brain in his Sistine Chapel fresco… but according to a prominent professor at Yeshiva University, the rabbit hole goes much, much deeper than that: Michelangelo’s work is packed full of symbols of Jewish mysticism. You may also know this as kabbalah.creation-of-man sistine chapel
  • According to another professor and art historian, that female under God’s arm is Shekhinah, a sacred figure in kabbalah.
  • Sistine Chapel has the same dimensions, as described in the Old Testament, as the Temple of Solomon on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
  • The Sistine Chapel – Cappella Sistina in Italian – takes its name from the man who commissioned it, Pope Sixtus IV: “Sixtus” in Italian is “Sisto”.
  • Sistine Chapel is most famous for Michelangelo’s frescoes, but long before Michelangelo, Sisto commissioned painters such as Botticelli to fresco the two long walls of the chapel: one side told the story of Moses, the other the story of Christ
  • The main nine panels at the center of Michelangelo’s ceiling depict stories from the Book of Genesis from the Creation to the story of Noah. However, Michelangelo painted the panels in reverse chronological order, finishing with the scenes showing God creating the sun, moon, Earth, and darkness and light. Michelangelo claimed that he deliberately left the images of God until last, when his fresco technique would have improved, knowing that they would be the most challenging and wanting to excel in his portrayal of the divine.
  • The Last Judgement is painted on the wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. The painting depicts the second coming of Christ on the Day of Judgment as described in the Revelation of John, Chapter 20. Last Judgement sistine chapel