10 Highlights of the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are a must-see when visiting Rome. Together, they comprise approximately 9 miles of art. The types include statues, sculptures, and mosaics. With so much to offer, we decided to give you the top 10 highlights of the Vatican Museums.

The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel hosts two of the world’s exceptional masterpieces: Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes (1508-1512) and his Giudizio Universale (Last Judgment; 1535–1541). The ceiling design covers 800 square metres and portrays events from the Old Testament. In order to have the best view, you should go to the chapel's main entrance in the east wall.

The Gregorian Egyptian Museum
The Gregorian Egyptian Museum was founded in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI. The museum hosts ancient artifacts that were discovered in ancient Egypt. It was then taken through Rome and Villa Adriana in Tivoli through the Imperial Age. This museum occupies 8 rooms and exhibits sculptures and statues, clay figurines and bronze objects, along with many other. If you love ancient Egypt then this museum is perfect for you.

St Peter’s Square
St Peter’s Square is the central space in the Vatican. It is a keyhole-shaped piazza and is surrounded by two great colonnades. The colonnades were designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini to illustrate "the motherly arms of the church".

The Gallery of Maps
The Gallery of Maps is located on the west side of the Belvedere courtyard and includes a wide range of painted topographical maps. Granted in 1580, it took Ignazio Danzi three years to complete the 40 panels. The Gallery is 120 m in length.

St Peter’s Basilica
Your first visit to St. Peter's Basilica is an unforgettable experience. The interior measures at 187m-long and it is guaranteed to take your breath away. The art comprises of priceless masterpieces such as Michelangelo's Pietà, a moving sculpture of the Madonna cradling her lost son near the main entrance. Another sculpture that is sure to catch your gaze is the statue of St Peter whose right-foot has been worn down by the touch of millions of pilgrims. Beneath the main basilica, there is the Vatican Grottoes where you can see many papal tombs and columns.

Papal Throne
The red marble papal throne was taken from its original home the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. The red marble is said to depict royalty and its other features include frescoes and mosaics, with two carved lions as arm rests and a radiating mosaic shining rays of sunlight.

St Peter’s Dome
Michelangelo’s most magnificent architectural achievement is the St. Peter's Dome. It can be accessed by a side door to the right of the St. Peter's Basilica's main entrance. The dome is a 320 step climb up a small and winding staircase. At the top, you will be awed by panoramas of Rome's rooftops touched by a glimmer of rose-gold light.

Gallery of the Statues
The Gallery of the Statues hosts the Pio Clementino Museum and stretches down a long corridor filled with statues down into the Gallery of Busts. Originally the walls were covered with frescoes of landscapes and cities with romantic cupids in the lunettes, however over time this room was changed to showcase the marble arts.

The Raphael Rooms
The four Raphael Rooms act as a marvelous entrance to the Vatican that will take your breath away as soon as you enter. As the public part of the papal apartments, they join the museum with the Papal Palace and are famous for their frescoes by Michelangelo and Raphael. It overlooks the Belvedere courtyard and hosts some of the best of the Renaissance. The four amazing stanze are Sala di Costantino, Stanza di Eliodoro, Stanza della Segnatura and Stanza dell’Incendio del Borgo.

Pinacoteca Vaticana
The Pinacoteca Vaticana was living in the Borgia Apartment until 1932 when it was moved to its current location. It now holds a variety of majestic paintings such as Raphael’s ‘Oddi Alterpiece’ and ‘Transfiguration’ to Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘St. Jerome in the Wilderness’. It’s a must-see and it will leave you wanting more at the end of your trip to the Vatican .

Still undecided about taking a trip to the Vatican? Here are some of our other posts about the Vatican to help you decide.

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By Khadijah Brown about Vatican City

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