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The Vatican Museums And The Sistine Chapel

The Vatican Museums originated as a group of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II (1503-1513) and placed in what today is the “Cortile Ottagono” within the museum complex. The popes were among the first sovereigns who opened the art collections of their palaces to the public thus promoting knowledge of art history and culture. As seen today, the Vatican Museums are a complex of different pontifical museums and galleries that began under the patronage of the popes Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pius VI (1775-1799). In fact, the Pio-Clementine Museum was named after these two popes, who set up this first major curatorial section. Later, Pius VII (1800-1823) considerably expanded the collections of Classical Antiquities, to which he added the Chiaromonti Museum and the “Braccio Nuovo” gallery. He also enriched the Epigraphic Collection, which was conserved in the Lapidary Gallery.

Gregory XVI (1831-1846) founded the Etruscan Museum (1837) with archaeological finds discovered during excavations carried out from 1828 onwards in southern Etruria. Later, he established the Egyptian Museum (1839), which houses ancient artifacts from explorations in Egypt, together with other pieces already conserved in the Vatican and in the Museo Capitolino, and the Lateran Profane Museum (1844), with statues, bas-relief sculptures and mosaics of the Roman era, which could not be adequately placed in the Vatican Palace. The Lateran Profane Museum was expanded in 1854 under Pius IX (1846-1878) with the addition of the Pio Christian Museum. This museum is comprised of ancient sculptures (especially sarcophagi) and inscriptions with ancient Christian content. In 1910, under th... [ Read all ]

Permanent Collection

The new Vatican Pinacoteca (Art Gallery) was inaugurated on 27 October 1932 in the building especially constructed by the architect Luca Beltrami for Pius XI. It was built in the nineteenth century Square Garden, isolated and completely surrounded by avenues, in a place considered suitable for assuring the best lighting conditions for both the correct preservation of the works and their optimum aesthetic enhancement. Thus the age-old question of the exhibition of the paintings, which were constantly moved around the Apostolic Palaces due to the lack of a setting that matched their importance, was solved. A first collection of only 118 precious paintings was created by Pope Pius VI around 1790. It was of short duration due to the fact that, following the Treaty of Tolentino (1797) some of the greatest masterpieces were transferred to Paris. The idea of an art gallery, understood in the modern sense as an exhibition open to the public, was only born in 1817 after the fall of Napoleon and the consequent return to the Church State of a large part of the works belonging to it, according to the directions of the Congress of Vienna. The collection continued to grow over the years through donations and purchases until it reached the current nucleus of 460 paintings, distributed among the eighteen rooms on the basis of chronology and school, from the so-called Primitives (12th-13th century) to the 19th century. The collection contains some masterpieces of the greatest artists of the history of Italian painting, from Giotto to Beato Angelico, from Melozzo da Forlì to Perugino and to Raphael, from Leonardo to Tiziano, to Veronese, to Caravaggio and to Crespi.

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The admission ticket to the Vatican Museums is valid for visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel only on the date of purchase. It is also valid for entrance to the Vatican Historical Museum and Noble Apartment of the Lateran Apostolic Palace (near the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome) during regular opening hours if used within the five consecutive days from the date of purchase (included).

Reservation is not required. Tickets are not refundable.

Euro 13,00

Euro 8,00

Euro 4,00

Free of charge.

Entrance tickets to the Vatican Historical Museum
Located in the Noble Apartment of the Lateran Apostolic Palace, it is open to the public from Monday to Saturday (except holidays) with guided visits at fixed hours. Entrance is in the atrium of St. John Lateran Basilica.

The comprehensive ticket of the Vatican Museums is also valid for visiting the Historical Museum, if used within the five consecutive days from the date of purchase (included).

Otherwise, single tickets for the Historical Museum may be purchased as follows:

Euro 4,00

Euro 2,00

Opening hours

For a detailed calendar of the varying opening and closing times please visit,


Cloakroom (visitors are asked to check-in bags, backpacks or bulky luggage)

Audio-guides (in 8 languages)

Radio service for groups

Vatican Post office

Currency Exchange

Restaurant - cafeteria - pizzeria

Museum Store: publications and reproductions

Public Telephones

First aid

Wheelchairs can be reserved in advance (fax 06.6988.5433) or upon request at the “Special Permits

Museum internal and external photos (1)

Click on the images to enlarge

News and events

For information on special events please visit,


Specifically adapted for the individual class programme, the guided tours are intended to increase knowledge about one particular sector of the Museums. Guided Tours with operator are limited to small groups (max. 30 people). They must be reserved in advance, by faxing a properly compiled booking application form to the office for didactic activities and special visits (06.6988.1573)

For more information please visit,