The first cluster of works exhibited in what was going to become the Vatican Museum, consisted of a collection of statues.
Clement XIV and Pio VI founded the Pio-Clementino Vatican Museum, containing works on display in buildings open to the public. Pio VII significantly enlarged the collection by adding the Museo Chiaramonti and the Braccio Nuovo.
The Museo Etrusco and the Museo Egizio, which are part of the Vatican Museums, were founded by Gregory XVI, who took care of having Etruscan pieces and Ancient Egyptian material coming from archaeological excavations taken to Rome. He then assembled the works and monuments already on display in other Roman museums. During San Pio X’s pontificate, the Galleria Lapidaria, including 137 inscriptions of ancient Roman Jewish graveyards, was added in 1910.
The Galleria degli Arazzi, including tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries, the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche, the Loggia di Raffaello, the Chapel by Beato Angelico, painted during Nicholas V’s pontificate, and the very famous Sistine Chapel, named after its founder Sixtus IV and painted by Michelangelo, are just some of the masterpieces boasted by the Vatican Museums. The Pinacoteca Art Gallery now located near the new Museums entrance and boasting paintings by Pinturicchio, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael, as well as many more works by the most famous artists, is also open to the public. A visit to the Museum offers the chance to view a vast, beautiful collection representative of the Italian history and art.
Raphael’s Rooms: Originally part of the private apartment of Pope Julius II, who commissioned the work to the famous painter they were named after. Have a careful look at the School of Athens, a beautiful fresco where philosophers Aristotle and Plato are depicted surrounded by scholars. Someone holds that you may also distinguish the figures of Michelangelo, who is the isolated man in front of the garden, Leonardo, in the traits of Plato, and a self-portrait of Raphael, the second figure in the right bottom corner.
Sistine Chapel: Have a close look at the wonderful frescoes by Michelangelo, among which the most famous are The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment.
The Belvedere Torso: (Sala delle Muse) Greek sculpture dating back to the first century B.C., widely appreciated during Renaissance, and particularly by Michelangelo, for the accurate and detailed representation of human anatomy.
Laocoon: (Octagonal court) A most famous sculpted group representing a Trojan priest of Apollo fighting with his sons against two monstrous sea serpents.
Apollo of the Belvedere: (Octagonal court) A Roman marble copy, dating back to the second century A.D., of the original Greek bronze of the IV century B.C., considered one of the masterpieces of classic art.
From Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m – 6 p.m. (last entry 4 p.m.) The last Sunday of every month free entry 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. (last entry 12.30)
Online booking at http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/index.html