The Vatican Museums constitute the biggest museum space in Rome. If you really wanted to, you could spend three days here and still not get to see everything, so it is recommended to read up a bit before visiting. The absolute highlight in this museum packed with highlights is the Sistine Chapel.
Vatican Museums Rome
Address: Viale Vaticano, 100 – Rome. Tel: +39 06 69883145 or +39 06 69884676 or +39 06 6982. Opening hours and admission Vatican Museums (2022). (Note that, during the Covid-crisis, the Green Pass is required.)
History and description
It was Pope Julius who, unwittingly, started the Vatican Museums in the beginning of the 16th century by placing a group of sculptures in what is now the Octagonal Courtyard of the museum complex.
The first Popes who systematically started creating the museums as they can be visited nowadays were Clement XIV and his successor Pius VI. They reigned towards the end of the 17th century and the Pio-Clementine Museum was named after them.
Pius VII, starting from the very beginning of the 19th century, expanded the collection of Classical Antiquities and also added the Chiaramonti Museum and the gallery known as the Braccio Nuovo (New Arm). The Epigraphic Collection in the Lapidary Gallery was also enlarged by Pius VII. The Etruscan Museum was founded in 1837 and the Egyptian Museum in 1839, both under Gregory XVI.
The Lateran Profane Museum was started in 1844 and later expanded and the Pio Christian Museum was added in 1854. The Hebrew Lapidary was established in 1910 and contains inscriptions from ancient Hebrew cemetaries in Rome.
These three collections were originally to be found in the Lateran Palace and moved to their present abode in the Vatican in 1970.
Other collections of the Vatican Museums are the Gallery of Tapestries, the Gallery of Maps, the Sobieski Room and the Room of the Immaculate Conception, as well as Raphael’s Rooms and the Loggia.
The Chapel of Nicholas V, the Vatican Pinacoteca, the Missionary-Ethnological Museum, the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Religious Art (in the Borgia Apartment) are all to be found in the Vatican Museums, as is its most famous attraction, the Sistine Chapel, which is named after Pope Sixtus IV.