Cappella Sistina, known more commonly as the Sistine Chapel, is the official residence of the Pope and gets its name from Pope Sixtus IV who commissioned its construction. This part of the Vatican palace was erected between 1473 and 1481 by the Renaissance architect, Giovanni dei Dolci. The first mass was celebrated here on 15th August 1483, after which Pope Sixtus IV consecrated the Chapel and dedicated it to Virgin Mary. The magnificently decorated chapel is the site where the Papal Conclave is held, a process through which a new Pope is elected. The elaborate frescos by the celebrated artist Michelangelo, adorn the interior of the Chapel and pulls people from all across the world, making it one of the most visited sites in Rome.
Quick Jumplinks to Navigate the Guide
- Visiting The Sistine Chapel
- Sistine Chapel Tickets
- What To See At The Sistine Chapel
- Tips to Avoid the Crowds at the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
- Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel - Practical Information
- Other Vatican Attractions - Vatican Museums & St. Peter's Basilica
Visiting The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is part of Vatican Museums and is the last room you will see on your tour. The place is usually crowded, and you might have to wait a little if you wish to see the famous paintings and frescoes more closely. You don’t need to buy a separate ticket to enter the Chapel as it is part of the entry ticket you bought for Vatican Palaces. Consider opting for an audio guide or a guided tour if you are keen to learn more about the Chapel and the Renaissance art that decorates its interior. If the main purpose of your visit is to explore the famous Chapel, remember to check if it is open for tourists on the day of your visit. This is because it is still used as a Church and for rituals and ceremonies related to the Pope.
Sistine Chapel Tickets
1. Skip the Line Tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
- These skip the line tickets will give you priority access to the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel.
- The tickets are not time bound, so once you enter the Museum complex, you can take your time to explore every part.
- Prepare to be awe-struck by the many sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and frescos that were created by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini.
- Inside the Sistine Chapel, you will witness the brilliant depiction of the Last Judgement covering the walls from behind the altar to the ceiling - a masterpiece that took Michelangelo four years to complete.
2. Exclusive Skip the Line Access to Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel with Host
- These tickets come with the added benefit of having an experience host direct you to the entrance without having to worry about skipping the line.
- On the day of your visit, you will meet your designated host at a pre-decided place and head straight to the priority entry.
- This self guided tour will allow you to admire everything at your own pace once your host has dropped you at the entrance.
- Of the 54 galleries that are together called the Vatican Palaces, the ones you wouldn’t want to miss are- Gallery of Maps, Gallery of Statues, Sala Rotunda, Hall of Busts, and the Sistine Chapel- the last and the most famous gallery in Vatican·
3. Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica
- A guided tour of Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Basilica int he company of an official Vatican guide.
- Skip the lines at the Vatican Museums and head in to enjoy the treasures of the museums and the marvellous Sistine Chapel.
- Head to St. Peter's Basilica through a dedicated entrance from Sistine Chapel, avoiding the massive crowds that gather at the entrance of St. Peter's Basilica.
- The trained guide will tell you all about the stories behind every gallery and the artworks displayed at the museums & the church.
What To See At The Sistine Chapel
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is made of nine panels that depict The Creation of the World, The Expulsion of Adam and Eve, and The Story of Noah. Of the nine panels, the most impressive is believed to be The Creation of Adam which shows God’s figure touching Adam’s fingertip to bring him to life. The panel showing Fall from Grace and Expulsion from the Garden of Eden is also a sight to behold as it shows Adam and Eve eating the forbidden apple and then leaving the Garden of Eden. Another feature that will capture your attention would be the images of sibyls and prophets painted by Michelangelo on the sides of central panels.
The Last Judgement Frescoe
Michelangelo’s most famous work, fresco of The Last Judgement is painted above the altar here at the Sistine Chapel. The gruesome composition depicts hell as described by Dante in Divine Comedy. The image of a vengeful Christ is central to the painting and it is surrounded by nude figures of apostles and saints. The massive fresco that took the renowned artist four years to complete, is divided into blessed souls on the left and the damned on the right. don’t miss the flayed body of Saint Bartholomew which has Michelangelo’s face on it.
The many panels that make up the walls on the right side of the alter depict Christ’s life and contains paintings by notable Renaissance era artists:
• Perugino, who painted The Baptism of Jesus and the scene showing Handing of Keys to Saint Peter
• Botticelli, who brought to life The Temptation of Jesus
• Ghirlandaio created The Calling of the First Disciples
• Rosselli, who depicted The Sermon and The Last Supper
The south wall of the Sistine Chapel is painted with scenes from the Life of Moses, and the artists who have marked the wall with their art are:
• Perugino with his depiction of Moses’ Journey Through Egypt
• Botticelli, who painted scenes from the life of Moses before his journey through Egypt, and The Punishment of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
• Rosselli and d’Antonio, who painted crossing of the Red Sea
• The Ten Commandments by Rosselli
• Luca Signorelli, who painted Moses’ Final Acts and Death
Tips to Avoid the Crowds at the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are among the most visited sites in the whole of Rome, and on any given day, the line at the ticket counter can stretch for as long as two hours. Here are some tips on how you can skip the line.
Buy tickets online prior to your visit
One sure shot way of avoiding the long ticketing queues is to buy online tickets to the Vatican Museums well in advance. This will ensure that you head straight to the scanning counter after clearing security. You can scan your e-voucher at the designated counter and get tickets to enter the Museums.
Choose a guided tour
Going for a guided tour comes with dual advantage- you will get to learn all about the Vatican Museums as you go along the 54 galleries and enjoy seamless entry to the museums as these tickets usually come with Skip the Line Access. You can opt for an audio guide and choose to explore the premises on your own or choose to learn about the place with a professional guide.
Choose the right time to visit
Since thousands of tourists head to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel every day, consider going for a tour with breakfast which will allow you to enter the Museum complex well before 9 AM and give you enough time to stroll through the galleries uninterrupted. If you are planning a day-trip, then consider going around 3 PM as the crowd reduces considerably by this time. Another option is to go on a dinner tour when you can go around the many rooms in the silence of the night with less number of people crowding your view.
Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel - Practical Information
From Monday to Saturday
9.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. (last entry at 4.00 p.m.)
Every last Sunday of the month ( other than public holidays)
9.00 a.m. – 2.00 p.m. (last entry at12.30 p.m.) Free entry
Getting to The Vatican Museums
Vatican City is to the north of the city centre of Rome and is easily reached independently by public transport plus and even by Rome hop-on hop-off tourist buses which have a stop here.
The Rome Metro has a station just outside the Vatican walls at Ottaviano-S. Pietro. Line A direction Battistini, Ottaviano or Cipro stations of the Metro has trains running every few minutes. It's a 5 minute walk from the Metro to both St Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums.
49, stop in the square in front of the Vatican Museums
32, 81, 982, stop at Piazza del Risorgimento
492, 990, stop in Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni
Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Rules & Regulations
- Dress appropriately and avoid low cut or sleeveless clothes, shorts, miniskirts, and hats
- Avail the free cloakroom service to keep any bags, backpacks, packages you might be carrying as you will not be allowed to take them inside
- You will pass through the metal detector and it is advisable to keep aside any inadmissible items and inform the staff about any objects you may be carrying like umbrellas, weapons, knives, etc.
- If you are carrying tripods, umbrellas, etc.- keep them in the cloak room
- You cannot carry any hazardous or dangerous items inside the Museums
- You cannot carry any eatable or drinking items inside the Museums. Eating or drinking in the exhibition halls is not allowed
- If you have lost any of your belonging, report to the nearest security personnel or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
- There are designated relaxation areas for visitors-look for them if you feel like taking a break
- Animals and pets are not allowed inside, except for guide dogs for the blind or partially-sighted. In this case, communicate your visit details atleast one day in advance.
- You are not allowed to touch any artwork, with the exception of partially sighted visitors participating in tactile and multisensory visits
- Photography is not allowed inside the Sistine Chapel
- Keep your phone on silent and don’t use it while you are inside
- Maintain silence
- Laser pointers and amplified microphones are not allowed
- Make sure you throw the trash in designated cans
- Smoking is prohibited
Other Vatican Attractions - Vatican Museums & St. Peter's Basilica
The Vatican Museums are visited by over 6 million people every year who come to see one of the world’s largest collection of art works. In 1503 that Pope Julius II donated his private collection that is seen as the genesis of the city of museums. In subsequent years, many families and Popes donated art works from their private collection. Some of the museums in the Vatican are Gallery of Chandeliers, Gallery of Maps, Gallery of Tapestries, Egyptian Museum, Raphael Rooms, and Chiaramonti Museum. A ticket to visit the Vatican Museum will include entry to the Sistine Chapel.
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is among the largest Churches in the world and counted as one of the holiest temples for Christians. It is the site where the Pope presides over various rituals. The Basilica, as we see it today was constructed between 1506 and 1626, and among the many renowned architects who were behind the magnificent structure, are Michelangelo, Bramante, and Carlo Maderno. It is named after Saint Peter, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus who was one of the founders of Catholic Church. Of the many remarkable features of the Basilica, its Dome is the most striking. It was started by Michelangelo, continued by Giacomo Della Porta, and finished in 1614 by Carlo Maderno. Some of the famous displays of art at the St. Peters Basilica include the large bronze St. Peter’s Baldachin designed by Bernini, and The Pietà- a sculpture by Michelangelo.