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Vatican Museum Tours

 

Vatican City

In the 1st century AD, Vatican Hill was the site of Caligula's circus, a chariot-racing stadium six hundred yards long. Some years later Nero had hundreds of Christians martyred here, many being thrown to the wild animals as part of the entertainment. St. Peter the Apostle was one of the first Christians to be rounded up by Nero's soldiers as the leader of the Christian community in Rome and crucified here. The Church rises on the spot where St Peter was buried and his bones - there is no way to detect if these are actually the bones of St. Peter - are housed in the Basilica. All Popes are buried here, St. Peter considered by many to be the first Pope.

In the 4th century AD, after years of Christian persecution, the first Christian Emperor Constantine, built a splendid basilica above the tomb of Peter on the slope of the Vatican hill.

The current altar which sits beneath Bernini’s Baldacchino and Michelangelo’s dome, is directly above the marble box Constantine built over the original 1st century altar. The Basilica was demolished and rebuilt throughout the centuries until 1500. It was then in such a state of disrepair that Pope Julius II decided to replace it with a new and more magnificent structure. The current Basilica was started in 1506 and completed in 1626, and was built over the Constantinian basilica. The greatest architects of the period were involved in its construction and decoration: Bramante, Sangallo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Maderno, Della Porta, Bernini, Fontana.

In 1546, at the age of 72, Michelangelo was obliged to undertake the building of the present Basilica by Pope Paul III. His imposing dome – the world’s largest - crowns this most impressive church on earth. The dome was completed after his death by della Porta and Fontana. When Michaelangelo died, the construction of the Greek Cross section surrounding the Papal altar and the tomb of Peter had been completed

In the beginning of the 1600's, Pope Paul V decided that the Greek Cross design was too small and required his architect, Maderno, to pull down the front wall of Michelangelo's building and extend the eastern end of the Basilica to form a Latin Cross which could hold more people. That was completed in 1626, and in the following 30 years Bernini added the Colonnade, topped with statues of 140 saints, and an enfolding ellipse piazza which can hold 300,000 people.

In the center of the St. Peter’s Square stands an obelisque brought to Rome by Caligula.

The Basilica itself houses remarkable works of art such as Michelangelo’s Pietà, sculpted from a single block of marble when he was only 24 years old; Bernini’s Baldacchino canopy above the main altar, which used bronze taken from the Pantheon, and the bronze statue of St. Peter by Arnolfo di Cambio. Also there is the tomb of Clement XIII by Canova and the mosaic of the Navicella by Giotto, located above the middle entrance to the Portico.

Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museums and their immense wealth of art offer an extraordinary experience in which the relevance of the works on display is heightened by the splendor of the structures in which they are displayed. The popes were among the first sovereigns who opened art collections to the public to promote knowledge of art history and culture. The Museums originated as a group of Greek sculptures collected by Pope Julius II (1503-1513) -the first being the famous Apollo Belvedere, which is actually a Roman copy of a Greek original. In 1506 it was joined by the Laocoön. (You can see both these famous statues in the Belvedere Courtyard). This collection of Greek and Roman sculpture was an inspiration to Renaissance artists to look back at Greek culture and arts. The collection was added to and re-grouped throughout the next two centuries. Since then many different works of art were acquired and in 1854 Pope John XXIII moved the combined collections into the Vatican Museums where they stand today.

In 1932 the definitive seat of the Vatican Picture Gallery (the Pinacoteca), was inaugurated near the monumental entrance of the Vatican Museums. 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 Caravaggioand to Crespi.

The gem of the collections at the Vatican is the Sistine Chapel with its famous frescoed ceiling by Michelangelo. No other work of art can compare with its power and magnificence and is among Western civilization’s greatest achievements. Painted as he lay on scaffolding for four years (1508-1512), it depicts the biblical story of Creation in nine scenes. The frescoes underwent a complete restoration between 1979 and 1999 and Michaelangelo’s startling use of light and color has been revealed in its true beauty. The “Last Judgment”, behind the altar, is equally powerful and was painted at the end of Michelangelo’s life. When Pope Pius III saw it on completion in 1541 it brought him to his knees. The Sistine Chapel has served as the gathering place of the College of Cardinals when the time comes to elect a new pope, since its completion in the 16th century

Another highlight of the Vatican Museums is Raphael’s famous stanza (several rooms containing many of the artist’s masterpieces). In 1508 Pope Julius II employed Raphael to decorate the rooms with biblical scenes. The result was a Renaissance tour de force. Of the four rooms, the second and third were decorated mainly by Raphael. Giulio Romano (circa 1499-1546) and other assistants of Raphael decorated the others. Not to be missed is Raphael’s large wall painting titled "The School of Athens" in the room ‘Stanza della Segnatura’, which was executed in 1510-1511. In it Raphael depicted the great pre-Christian thinkers, Aristotle, Plato, etc., with the faces of the leading artists of Raphael’s day, including competitor, Michelangelo.

The Museums also offer a great variety of other collections, including ancient Greek as well as Roman art (of which the Vatican owns the largest collection in the world), and Egyptian and Etruscan art.

Famous Artworks

Sistine Chapel
• Handing over of the keys (Perugino)
• Creation of Adam (Michelangelo)
• The Last Judgment (Michelangelo)

Raphael's Rooms
• School of Athens (Raphael)
• Liberation of St Peter (Raphael)

Pinacoteca
• The Transfiguration (Raffaello Sanzio)
• Deposition from the Cross (Caravaggio)

Gregorian Egyptian Museum
• Mummy in its case

Gregorian Etruscan Museum
• Fibula

Ethnological Missionary Museum
• Quetzalcóatl, Pre-Colombian Mexican divinity

Collections

• Gregorian Egyptian Museum
• Near Eastern Antiquities
• Alexandria and Palmyra
• Antiquities from Palestine
• Room of the Assyrian relief sculptures
• Gregorian Etruscan Museum
• Antiquarium romanum
• Collection of vases
• Classical Antiquities (Greek and Roman)
• Pio Christian Museum (with the Christian and Hebrew Lapidary)
• Pinacoteca (picture gallery)
• Tapestries
• Ceramics (18th-19th century)
• Miniature mosaics
• Collection of modern Religious Art
• Missionary-Ethnological Museum
• Museo Sacro (formerly part of the Vatican Library)
• Gregorian Profane Museum
• Vatican Historical Museum

Vatican Palace

•Belvedere Palace
•Upper Galleries (Gallery of the Candelabra; of Tapestries and of Maps)
•Apartment of St. Pius V
•Sala delle Dame
•Room of the Immaculate Conception
•Raphael Stanze
•Room of the Chiaroscuri
•Chapel of Nicholas V
•Chapel of Urban VIII
•Sistine Chapel
•Borgia Apartment
•Salone Sistino
•Room of the Aldobrandini Wedding
•Lower Galleries (Urban VIII, Alexandrine, Clementine)

Question Answered

Why does the present day Basilica stand in the same location as Caligula's ancient circus, where Saint Peter was crucified in 67 AD?

How many artists contributed to the construction of Saint Peter', the world's largest basilica ?

How much time was needed before they were able to cover the enormous dome which for years remained open?

How has the way of thinking and representing humanity, suffering, ecstasy, and God changed in the last millennium? How and why have the faces, forms, colours and gestures of the human figures changed in the paintings from Giotto , Raphael , Titian and Caravaggio exhibited in the Art Gallery ?

What immense tragedy is expressed in the marble group of Laocoon, which captures him and his children at the moment of death under attack by serpents sent by Athena ?

Of what boundless admiration was this statue an object of,even at the time of Nero, who wanted it in his Golden House ?

Why did Raphael depict himself, Bramante , Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci as the philosophers in his very famous of the School of Athens ?

And why, in the Last Judgment of the Sistine Chapel, did Michelangelo paint in his own face in the flayed skin of Saint Bartholomew who was skinned alive ?

Building of the Basilica

The Basilica of St. Peter is in the heart of the Vatican City, an independent sovereign state on the right bank of the Tiber river, in the centre of Rome.
The Vatican State is the smallest State in the world, and what remains of temporal dominions of the Church, which were annexed to Italy at the end of 1800's with the unification of the country.

The Basilica as we see it today, with its ribbed dome stands impressively in its square which seems to welcome all the pilgrims of the world in the embrace of the Mother Church. It was designed by the most famous architects and geniuses of the Renaissance and Baroque time.

The Basilica stands on the foundations of the Constantinian basilica, that stood for over a thousand years on a sacred area of Pagan-Christians mausoleums. St. Peter's Square with its famous colonnade which represents one of the most brilliant ideas of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is 320 meters wide with a central ellipsis of 240 meters and is surrounded by 4 rows of 284 columns and 88 pilasters. The balustrade above the columns is decorated with 140 statues of Saints. Below, a huge stairway of three flights flanked by the statues of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. In the center of the square there are two great fountains and an obelisk.

The facade of the Basilica -14.69 mt. wide and 47.3 mt. high - is made of travertine of Tivoli. It features a unique structure of Corinthian columns and frames a broad central portico with two arcades on either side (the one on the left leads to the City of the Vatican); above, nine balconies with windows (the central one is the loggia of the blessings) and a canonical attic surmounted by the balustrade that supports thirteen statues. Five bronze doors lead inside. In the middle of the church dominate the magnificent "dome"by Michelangelo and the smaller domes of the Gregorian and Clementine chapels.

Inside, the Basilica is 186 m long (218.7 with the portico,or front hall), the main nave is 46 m in height and the height of the dome is 119 m. Under the dome is the papal altar, with the famous canopy by Bernini rising over it.
The sumptuousness of the interior is breathtaking: 45 altars,11 chapels, around 10 thousand square meters of mosaics and many other masterpieces, such as the “Pietà”by Michelangelo.
The tombs of several popes can be found under St. Peters Church.

Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, wanted the building of the Basilica in 315 AD exactly on the site where the tomb of Christ's first Apostle was worshipped.

 

Originally the Vatican area was an unhealthy and uninhabited place. Its condition improved at the beginning of the 1st century, when the area closest to the Tiber River was reclaimed. Following works saw the creation of gardens, large parks, villas and outstanding buildings, such as Naumachia Vaticana, probably used for water games and the Mausoleum of Hadrian, today known as Castel Sant'Angelo, and the private circus of Caligula. Along via Cornelia there were tombs, altars and sepulchers, in total respect of the Roman law that prescribed for all burial places to be located outside of residential areas.

Built by Emperor Caligula between 37 and 40 AD, the building was located on the left side of the current basilica, in the valley leading down to the river. The circus was the stage for the first persecution of the Christians by Nero.The position of the circus has been known since at least the 1600's, also due to the fact that the obelisk rising in the centre of the circus stood in its original place until 1586, when it was moved to the centre of St. Peter's square upon orders of Sixtus V. The event is reported by Domenico Fontana in his book, Della Trasportatione dell’Obelisco Vaticano et delle Fabriche di Nostro Signore Papa Sisto V, Roma 1590 (“about the transportation of the Vatican Obelisk and the works undertaken by His Holiness Sixtus V"). The operation cost 40,000 scudi, 800 workers, 140 horses and 40 hoists; Sixtus V emanated an order with the death penalty for anyone who obstructed works, or even made noise: the lifting operations took place in absolute silence and had to be accompanied only by the sound of a trumpet. It is said that Fontanahad his horse ready for the escape in case the obelisk had fallen during the operation. Fontana succeeded in his work also thanks to one of the workers, the sailor called Bresca,who seeing that the supporting ropes were about to break, broke the silence by shouting out "acqua alle funi!"(water to the ropes!).

The circus was already out of use one hundred and fifty years after its construction, at the time of the Emperor Caracalla, when a large circular mausoleum was built above the circus not too far from the obelisk and later dedicated to St. Andrew.

The radical transformation of the entire Vatican area took place in the 4thcentury, when Christianity rapidly took over pagan worship. After the abdication of Diocletian, responsible for the last great persecutions, the wars of succession to conquer the power ended with the nomination in 307 AD of Emperor Constantine. Son of one of Diocletian’s generals, Constantine was recognized as Emperor in 312, after the defeat at Saxa Rubra, near Rome, of his rival Maxentius, on October 28th, who drowned in the Tiber river. The following year, the Emperor established the liberalization the religion with the edict of Milan, ensuring that Christianity was no longer obstructed and could be worshipped freely.

From then on, political and religious powers were no longer unified in the person of the Emperor, to the point where in 330 AD the capital was transferred to the East, leading to the founding of a city named after himself on the Bosphorus: Constantinople. He made of Rome the religious centre of the Empire and for this purpose started an intense building program that had to give to the rising Church its worthy places of worship. The first building erected was the Basilica,in order to assure an adequate celebration of the prince of the apostles. The church of San Giovanni in Lateranon followed, then the Papal residence and the Imperial palace; followed by Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, San Pietro and Marcellino,San Sebastiano, San Lorenzo outside the walls and finally the church of Sant'Agnese.

St. Peter's Basilica grew also thanks to works and donations made by princes and popes; in 800 Charles the Great was crowned by the Pope Leo III, after him was Lotario, Ludovico II° and Federico III°.

 

 

At the beginning of the Early Middle Ages, the city of Rome went under a progressive decline, no longer the heart of a great Empire but the target for sacking by the Barbarians, by the Goths of Alarico (410) and by Vitige(537-538), by the Vandals of Genserico (445), who cut the aqueducts to bend the city and finally by Totila (545-546).

One thousand years after its foundation, St. Peter's was going to ruin and Niccolò V° decided to undertook extensive works of restoration upon suggestion of Leon Battista Alberti and the project of Bernardo Rossellino. During the Renaissance in Italy and in Europe a new cultural and political climate was breathed, the rebuilding of Rome began (the urban situation of the period and the transformations) on the initiative of a new generation of popes who saw the building works as a means for reaching them asses that, Niccolò V°, the humanist pope, thought needed to be fascinated by grand works.

And so began the magnificent plan of Niccolò V, the restoration of ancient monuments that could be used as the infrastructure of the papal city: the Aurelian walls, the bridges, the Mausoleum of Hadrian transformed into a castle, several aqueducts, the reconstruction or repair of the forty basilicas making up the Holy Stations of pilgrimage and finally the creation of a small city on the Vatican hill, seen as a holy city different from the profane city,on the other side of the Tiber and connected only via the bridge of Castel S.Angelo.
Niccolò V only managed to complete a small part of his project. The new basilica was constructed by Giulio II della Rovere. Works began with the demolition of a large part of the old church, following the project of Bramante, with the intention of building a Greek cross plan edifice inspired by the Pantheon. The central pillars of the design by Bramante were created, with the large support arches of the dome, and the spaces created adjacent to the central part, then works stopped for 20 years. In 1527 there was the terrible sacking of Rome by the Lanzichenecchi.

The direction of works was then continued - with strange and recurring competition between Greek cross plan and Latin cross plan - by Frà Giocondo, Raffaello, Giuliano da Sangallo, Baldassarre Peruzzi, Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane and finally Michelangelo, who re-applied the design of Bramante, restructuring the smaller areas surrounding the central part and beginning the construction of the dome, which was only completed under Sixtus V in 1593 by Giacomo Della Porta and Domenico Fontana. Under the pontificate of Paul V the decision was made to restore the basilica with the definite return to the Latin cross plan. Architect Carlo Maderno added three chapels to each side of the building and conducted the naves up to the current facade (begun in 1607 terminated in 1614 and restored on the occasion of the Jubilee 2000). Maderno’s works was criticized by many because hiding from view the tambour, the rising effect of the dome is dampened. The consecration of the new basilica was celebrated by Urban VIII in November 1626.

Upon conclusion of this grand work, the construction of the city was stopped, but the miraculous balance between ancient ruins and the Baroque scenes of papal Rome is so great that it has fascinated and enraptured great travelers such as Byron, Goethe, Stendhal.

 

Castel Sant Angelo

Via della Conciliazione leads to Castel Sant'Angelo, the fortress of the popes built in the Middle Ages above the remains of the tomb of the Emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD). An 18th-century bronze statue of archangel Michael sheathing a sword surmounts the tomb, in reference to an old tradition that during the plague of 590 an angel appeared on the top of the mausoleum, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague. This event gave the name to the castle.

When the Emperor Aurelian built the new walls of Rome in 271, the Mausoleum was incorporated into the walls as a defensive rampart and renamed Mole Adrians. For centuries it was used as a fortress and a refuge for the popes; in 1277 it was linked to the Vatican by a covered passage called the Passetto di Borgo and endowed with a moat, drawbridges and cannons.

The structure, built on the right bank of the Tiber, was connected to the other side by the Bridge of the Angels with the statues by the Bernini school that in the past announced to pilgrims on their way to visit the tomb of St. Peter, that the goal of their journey was near. In the past the castle was famous for its terrible dungeons, described by Benevento Cellini who made an adventurous escape from them. It was also a place of public executions, as recalled by the opera Tosca, that sees its tragic ending here.

Walking through the 58 rooms the National Museum of the Castel Sant'Angelo today is a journey through its 1800 years of history, and the many terraces offer extraordinary views of the city.

Code of Conduct

Strict dress codes are especially adhered to at St. Peter's,

No skirts above the knee, shorts, or sleeveless tops, but it's okay to wear jeans.

You can still buy disposable pants and/or t-shirts and scarves on sale in the souvenir shops just outside St. Peter's.

One way to get around this is to carry long pants and a shirt/blouse with sleeves in a bag or backpack so that when you wish to enter a church, you can slip these garments on over your inappropriate attire before you enter.

Extended Hours

The Vatican Museums Management are happy to announce that its extraordinary night opening in the current year shall be maintained on every Friday of the month of September (4, 11, 18, 25) and every Friday of the month of October (2,9.16, 23,30), from 7pm to 11pm. Last entrance at 9.30 pm. This decision is due to the unexpected success of the first night opening of the Vatican Museums started on 24 July 2009.

The night visitors can assist to the unique sun set on the Sant Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Gardens from the side of the courtyard of the Corazze or from the windows of the Galleria of the Geographical Maps while enjoying the breeze of the "ponentino" ( the fresh winds from the sea gently blowing into the city combined with sunset).

Walk in the Cortile Ottagono to admire the antique sculptures under the dim flickering torchlight. Proceed to visit the Raffaello's Rooms and the Sistine Chapel accompanied by the mystical ecstasy of the night silence.

Least but not last admire the Cortile della Pigna and the Cortile della Pinacoteca Accompanied by the power of suggestion of the quiet of the night.

 

Details

Great Basilica Tour

Rome Basillica
Details

Unlock the secrets to Christian Rome on this intriguing walking tour, and you'll appreciate why Rome attracts millions of pilgrims every year. Led by an expert guide, this fascinating walking tour takes you to St. Peter's Basilica (exclusive skip the line access!) in Vatican City, St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Holy Stairs.

You haven't truly seen Rome until you've experienced the beauty of its most important Basilicas, and journeying through this traditional pilgrimage route of the Basilica's of Peter, Paul, John and Mary is the best way to experience them.

Begin your pilgrimage at Saint Mary Major which boasts exuberant mannerist sculptural decorations, stunning 5th Century mosaics, enchanting frescoes and Rome's greatest sculptor of all time, Bernini's, tomb.

Next you will have the chance to climb the Holy Stairs transported from Jerusalem which, according to tradition, once led to the Palace of Pontius Pilate - 28 white marble steps tread by Christ during his passion. Then we will visit the imposing Basilica of Saint John Lateran, the Cathedral of Rome and traditional seat of the Pope which was built by Constantine even before Saint Peter.

From St. John Lateran, you will be transported to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where lie the relics of Saint Paul and 5th century mosaics shimmer alongside brilliantly colored frescoes.

Your tour reaches its culmination skipping the enormous line leading into the breathtaking St. Peter's Basilica, the largest Church in Christianity, guardian of St. Peter's tomb, Michelangelo's Pietà and Bernini's immense baldachin.

Join us as we explore these mystical temples of worship which celebrate the emperors, saints, Popes, artists and millions of people who have tread their ground and wondered at their splendor for thousands of years.

Duration: 4hrs

Cost: $69 pp

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Vatican Outside
Vatican Dome
Vatican Museum Ceiling
St Peteres Square at night
St Peteres Square at night

Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel & Papal Audience

The Vatican City State (Holy See), the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, is located in the center of Rome not far from the River Tiber, and is the smallest sovereign state in the world. It covers St. Peter’s Square, the Basilica of St. Peter, the Vatican Museums and adjacent buildings, and the garden behind. Photos by Tony Boccaccio (He Leads our photo tours)

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St Peters

Vatican Museum Tours

Escorted Groups - Skip the Line

Purchase your tours and tickets right here and save time waiting in long lines

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From $43pp

Vatican Museums - Tickets Only

Cost: $43.00 pp

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If you'd like to visit the Vatican Museums without a guide, pre-book and skip the long entrance queues! Your Vatican Museums ticket will be pre-booked and pre-paid, for fast, hassle-free entry.

After skipping the line, you can explore the Vatican Museums at your leisure, including the famous Sistine Chapel and Raphael's Rooms. When you are finished exploring, head over to St Peter's Basilica which you can enter directly from the Museums, thereby skipping the line there as well.

By pre-booking this Vatican Museums ticket you can avoid the long lines (which can take more than two hours!) to enter the Museums. Please note that all visitors must pass through metal detectors at the security check point, so please expect to wait 20–30 minutes to clear security. These special Vatican tickets include the standard ticket price plus fast-track access fee.

Vatican Museums Walking Tour
Small Group Tour with Entrance Fee included

Duration: 3 hrs

Cost: $69.92 pp

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To request a private guide OR tour with 8:30am transfer use the Inquiry Form

Take a small group walking tour of the Vatican Museums and St Peter's Basilica, and jump the queue by booking ahead. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 20 people on this small group walking tour, ensuring you'll receive personalized attention from your guide. And by booking ahead, you won't waste any time waiting in line!

Your knowledgeable guide will escort you into the Vatican Museums to explore the world's most extensive collection of art. Brilliantly decorated and lined with masterpieces, the museums are brimming with treasures and history. Your guide will lead you through the 2000 rooms that stretch over almost nine miles, and share the stories and secrets contained within the Vatican's walls.

Highlights of the museums are Michelangelo's famous Creation of Adam fresco in the Sistine Chapel and Raphael's Rooms. After taking in the Vatican Museums, you will encounter another of Michelangelo's masterpieces, La Pieta, in St Peter's Basilica. For a fascinating finish to your small group guided walking tour, stop to admire magnificent St Peter's Square, as your guide points out Bernini's ingenious use of optical illusion.

Do you want to skip the line AND the crowds too?

Upgrade to the 8:10am tour and not only will you skip the long lines (which can last up to two hours!) to enter the Vatican Museums but gain access as soon as the doors open – before the general public step foot inside! Tours are arranged exclusively for our guests and groups never exceed 8 people in total.

Vatican Museums Walking Tour
Large Group Tour - Tickets payable at the Entrance

Duration: 3 hrs

Cost: $40.34 pp

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To request a private guide please use the above link

Get much more out of your visit to St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican by taking a guided walking tour. St Peter's and the Vatican Museums can be overwhelming, especially if this is your first visit, so allow your experienced guide to lead the way and share the history, architecture, and politics of the Vatican. As an added bonus, you'll skip the long ticket lines when you visit the Vatican Museums (entrance fees payable direct on the day of travel).

On your morning or afternoon guided walking tour of Christian Rome's most inspirational sites, you'll explore the world's smallest country, its largest church and an impressive collection of fine art. A highlight of the tour is the famous Sistine Chapel and its collection of frescoes begun in 1508 by Michelangelo. You'll see the master's best known fresco, the Last Judgment, covering one entire wall of the chapel.

However, the Vatican is not all gold, pomp and stateliness – it has a history full of dark tales of deceit and even lust! A world of discovery awaits you as your expert guide brings the Vatican and its stories alive.

Note that entrance fees to the Vatican Museums are NOT included. A supplement of approx. 20 euros (adult) or 14 euros (student) is payable direct.

 

Full Day Tour of the Vatican Museum & Gardens

Duration: 5 1/2hrs

Cost: 119 pp

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To request a private guide please use the above link

Special permission is granted to enter the Vatican Gardens on Tuesday and Thursday for this combination guided walking tour of the Vatican Gardens and Museum (including the Sistine Chapel!) in one single day.

Skip the Line: Vatican in One Day Highlights:

Vatican Museums
Raphael Rooms
Sistine Chapel
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Square
Vatican Estate and Gardens - Courtyard of Damascus, Park of Villa Pia, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Piazza Santa Marta, Mosaic Studio, Palazzo del Governatorato, St. John Tower, The 'Casina' of Pope Pious IX, and Papal Heliport, the Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe , Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, Replica of the Grotto of Lourdes, Fountain of the Eagle and Fountain of the Sacrament and various other sites of interest.

Special Offer - When you book this tour of the Vatican Museums and Vatican Gardens you are guaranteed to save over 10% compared to booking the two tours separately.

 

ceiling sistine chapel

VIP Vatican Tours

Private Tours with Add ons

4 unique Vatican tours to make the most of your time and money with VIP hotel pick up.

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Private VIP Walking Tours

Tour Duration: 4hrs

Includes:

Private VIP transfer to Vatican Museum
Private Licensed Guide
Entry and Reservation Fees
Complete Lunch where indicated

Each tour starts with a VIP pick up from your hotel or apartment and fast entry with your pre reserved and pre paid tickets. Your guide will meet you at your hotel or entrance to the Vatican museum as you wish.

Each tour begins as follows:

You begin your tour in the Vatican Museums. We'll stop by the octagonal courtyard which holds some of the greatest statues in the world and then walk through the many halls of the museums to reach the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel for a detailed explanation of the beautiful frescoes in these rooms by some of the greatest artists of the Renaissance. On the way visit the Candlestick Gallery, Tapestries Gallery, Geographic Maps Gallery, S. PioV Gallery, and Sobieski’s Room.

After brief stops at the most important works of art in the many wings of the museums, we arrive to see the frescoes in the Raphael room. We then arrive at the Sistine Chapel to view hundreds of illustrations through which Michelangelo recounted stories from sacred texts. We will also compare his works to the other great masters of the Renaissance, including Botticelli, a selection of whose work can be found in the same chapel. We will also discuss the sociopolitical, spiritual and enigmatic history and mysterious process of the secret conclave.

Itinerary

00:80 Private transfer to Vatican by Car with your guide.
08:30 Vatican Entry with pre reserved tickets (+ security check)
10:30 Finish 1st part of the tour then your choice of the following options
12:30 End of Tour

 

Option 1 - Classic

Basilica (30min) > St Peters Square > Castel Sant Angelo (30min) > Lunch

Starting from Bernini baroque elliptic colonnade in Saint Peter's Square, typical of the period, we arrive at the Basilica, journeying through its history and the artistic masterpieces kept within it: Michelangelo's Pietà, Bernini's sumptuous canopy, the spiraling columns, sacred relics including the lance that pierced Christ's side and the Shroud of Verona. We then move on to the Vatican Museums and the Art Gallery with works of art by Giotto and Titian, as well as Leonardo Da Vinci's Saint Gerolamo, Raphael's Transfiguration, Caravaggio's Deposition from the Cross etc.

After brief stops at the most important works of art in the many wings of the museums, we arrive to see the frescoes in the Raphael room. We then arrive at the Sistine Chapel to view hundreds of illustrations through which Michelangelo recounted stories from sacred texts. We will also compare his works to the other great masters of the Renaissance, including Botticelli, a selection of whose work can be found in the same chapel. We will also discuss the sociopolitical, spiritual and enigmatic history and mysterious process of the secret conclave.

Option 2 - Gourmet Tasting

St Peters Square > Castel Sant Angelo > Wine & Food Tasting Tour > Piazza del Popolo

After the Museum tour you will pass through St Peters Square , Castel Sant Angelo and then stop for a fantastic ice cream, wine bar in Campo di Fiori, Fillet di Baccala, a traditional Roman dish of Fish and then lunch. Along the way you will hear stories and visit interesting shops or churches on the way.

 

Option 3 - Off the Beaten Path

St Peters Square > Castel Sant Angelo > Trastevere >Lunch

We walk along via Giulia from Castel St Angelo, a street built by pope Giulio II in XVI century. He also built Castel St Angelo. We then cross the back over the Tiber a into Trastevere where you will explore the ancient Roman streets and visit the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Cecilia. After the tour you will be dropped of for lunch.

 

St Peter's

Private Viewings Vatican Tour

Escorted Group Tour

Departure : 8:30am

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51.00€ pp

After Hours VIP Vatican Tour - Private Small Group

Duration: 2hrs

Cost: $329 pp

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Selected nights only.

Seeing the Vatican's galleries when they are closed to the general public is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Tickets are limited and each group will consist of 20 people maximum with your own guide.

The Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums are notorious for the crowds of people passing through during the day. With this exclusive two-hour tour you will have a unique chance to escape the crowds and, once the Vatican Museums close to the public, explore the artistic and architectural treasures.

All entrance fees are included in the tour price. Book your spot on this exclusive tour (instant confirmation!) and see the official residence of the Pope, in Vatican City. The evening is hosted by an English-speaking guide/art historian specializing in the Italian Renaissance. Please list any special interests you have (art, architecture, history, culture) at time of booking to alert our guide, so that he or she can better prepare for your private tour.

Special Offer - Book now and save 10% off recommended retail price - BOOK NOW!

Escorted Small Group Tour - 51€ pp

3 hours : Mon - Thurs - Sat 8 am
Meeting : Entrance gate of the Vatican Museums.
Stops : Vatican Museums · Raphael's rooms· Sistine Chapel ·Basilica of St. Peter ·St. Peter's Square

To request this tour use the Inquiry Form above.

*From November to March entrance during official opening hours

Passing through the Court of the Pigna, designed by Bramante in the XVI cent. you will enter inside the Belvedere Palace, of the late XV cent.; in the first room is housed the Apoxyomenos by Lisippo, the only roman copy still existing of this Greek masterpiece. You are now in the heart of the museum, the Belvedere Courtyard. It was here that were placed the first masterpieces of Greek and Roman art exhibited in the Renaissance: the Apollo Belvedere, one of the most famous works of antiquity,and the Laocoon Group, defined by Pliny the Elder "the biggest sculpture known at that time".

Proceeding with the visit you will quickly pass the secondary galleries to reach the room of the Belvedere Torso, work of the I cent. b.C., much admired by the Renaissance artists, especially Michelangelo, Perugino, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael . Passing through the round room, with a monumental basin in porphyry in the centre, you will go into the Greek Cross Room where the splendid Sarcophagi of St. Helene and St. Constance are housed.

Walking through the Galleries of the Candelabra, of the Maps and of the Tapestries you will reach the Apostolic Palace, the oldest section of the complex of the Vatican Palaces. Your guide will show you the Apartments of Julius II, splendidly decorated by Raphael and his assistants and then the Sistine Chapel a place of emotions, passion, and discovery, where you will admire 3000 frescoed figures with their incredible wealth and variety of bodies, gestures, poses, gazes, eternal expressions in the greatest celestial sphere ever painted: the Genesis and the Last Judgment by Michelangelo, that after the last restorations have gained their original splendour.

It is a place of temptation, sensuality and desire, wounds that won't heal, shrills of pain and songs of angels. Bright and festive, sweet and endless, a magical and tempestuous place in which Renaissance man unveils his thirst for experience, knowledge and emotions, and reveals to us his human flaws, his humanity and his need for God.

Leaving the Sistine Chapel and going down the Royal Stairway,projected by Bernini, the guide will conduct you to the Basilica of St. Peter, the most important temple of Christianity,which gathers inside 2000 years of history and famous works of art as the Pietà by Michelangelo.

The visit ends at St. Peter Square, destination of all Catholics coming from all over the world, embraced by the colonnade, architectonic masterpiece by Bernini, under the symbolic protection of the "Cuppolone", as the Romans call Michelangelo's dome.

Popoe's Blessing

Papal Audience

Escorted Group or Private

Feel free to sing along with the spiritual leaders of the Church and pray with the Pope, the head of State of Vatican City. Or just sit back and observe the amazing tradition of the Papal Audience.

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Wednesday Morning Audience with Pope Benedict XVI at Vatican City

Bookings are essential if you'd like to attend a Papal Audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. Tickets are limited and you must have a confirmed reservation to attend. Book ahead and you won't waste precious vacation time in Rome.

The Papal Audience takes place either in the Sala of Paul VI or in Saint Peter's Square, depending on the preference of Pope Benedict XVI seasonal conditions and the number of pilgrims visiting on each particular day. Experience the awe and wonder which occurs at the Papal Audience as Cardinals read in various languages reaching out to pilgrims and visitors from the far corners of the world. Then hear the Pope's weekly message as he enters the central stage.

Option with Coach Transfer

Duration: 3 1/2hrs

Cost: $47 pp

Itinerary Details & Secure Online Booking

To request a private transfer and or guide please use the above Inquiry Form

You'll begin this special day with a relaxing coach tour across Rome. Your city tour includes a live commentary and offers a brief introduction to Rome as you travel by bus to the Vatican City. Highlights en route include Piazza della Repubblica, following the ancient Aurelian Walls, the famous Villa Borghese gardens and the northern gate of Rome leading into Piazza del Popolo, where you will glimpse an Egyptian obelisk dating back to the time of Ramses II. Upon arrival at St Peter's Square you will pass the impressive Castel Sant'Angelo, the ancient tomb of Emperor Hadrian. Your guide will provide details of when and where to meet the bus at the end of the Papal Audience.

 

Option with 1hr Pre-Audience Walking Tour

Duration: 3 1/2hrs

Cost: $43 pp

Itinerary Details & Secure Online Booking

To request a private transfer and or guide please use the above Inquiry Form

Your expert tour guide will be waiting for you at Castel Sant'Angelo, the traditional fortress of the Popes. As you stroll, you will learn about the development of the Papacy from the first Christians through Constantine's era and up to the current-day wonder of the Vatican City.

You'll walk the length of the famous "passetto", which served as a secret escape passage from the Papal apartments to the Papal stronghold of Castel Sant'Angelo. Then stand in awe before Saint Peter's Square, created by Bernini in the 17th century, as your guide provides background details about St. Peter's Basilica.

Your guide will then brief you on what to expect at the Papal Audience and prepare you for your gathering with Pope Benedict XVI.

Castelgondolfo

Blessing in Castelgandolfo

Escorted Tour by Coach or Private

Summer Departures on Sundays

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$60 pp

Papal Blessing at Castelgandolfo Day Trip from Rome

Duration: 4hrs

Cost: $60 pp

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Take this special excursion to receive a Papal Blessing at Castelgandolfo in the summer months only. Availability is limited, so don't miss the opportunity to leave the busy Italian capital to spend time with the Pope at his summer residence at Castelgandolfo.

Leaving Rome, you will pass the enormous ruins of the Terme di Caracalla before taking the ancient Appian Way and passing the Chapel of Domine Quo Vadis. Driving south of Rome, high up above the Eternal City towards Castelgondolfo summer residence of the Pope.

Your tour will then proceed through the Castelli Romani hills to the south of Rome and towards Lake Albano that is perched on the rim of a crater overlooking the third-century Roman amphitheatre and the Capuchin church. The area known as the 'Colli Albani' is home to many picturesque villages such as Frascati, Nemi, Genzano and Ariccia, and the splendid Villa Aldobrandini.

The Pope's summer residence is very near the volcanic lake of Albano. The Papal Blessing takes place in the square facing the Papal Palace of Castelgandolfo.

 

Private Guided Options - Half or Full Day

To request a private transfer and or guide please use the above Inquiry Form

Arrive in Castelgandolfo by train ticket from Termini €1.90 p.p each way of private car. Meeting with our guide. Attend Pope's audience and then visit of the city historical centre followed by typical regional lunch (with a view) and tasting in a characteristic restaurant

Cost 175€

 

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