Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s frescos, Vatican City, Vatican Museum, opening hours and official guided tours and tickets
Monday to Saturday : 9.00a.m. to 6.00 p.m. (Last entry is 4.00p.m.)
Easter Sunday and Monday
Why visiting the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s frescos must be part of your itinerary?
If you are interested in the art and history of the Renaissance period, then the best representation of it is found at the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s frescos. The Sistine Chapel holds priceless artworks and has a special significance for the Popes as a new Pope here is elected. The Sistine Chapel is renowned for Michelangelo’s frescos which are not only visually striking, but each character seems to be doing something incredible when he had painted hundreds of faces on his frescos.
The Pope’s official residence is in the Vatican City State. The Sistine Chapel was known initially as Cappella Magna and is one of the chapels in the Apostolic Palace. Between 1473 and 1481, Pope Sixtus IV ordered to restore the Chapel, once completed, the name was turned into “Sistine Chapel”. The Chapel has played a significant role in papal ceremonies in Catholic Church-related activities.
A group of Renaissance painters were called upon during the pontificate of Sixtus IV and asked to perform artworks at the Chapel to celebrate the momentous event. Today, you can see works by renowned artist such as Cosimo, Signorelli, Rosselli, Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio, Pinturicchio, Botticelli and The Life of Moses and the Life of Jesus were two frescos which were executed by these great artists. There were also portraits made of each Pope which governed the Church. Upon the completion of the painting in 1482, Pope Sixtus IV celebrated the first mass there.
Michelangelo also plays a significant role in the Sistine Chapel. He was commissioned to decorate the vault of the Chapel and the frescos on the ceilings. It took him four years to create masterpieces which to this day has the art world in awe. On the behest of Clement VII and Pope Paul III, Michelangelo painted ‘The Last Judgment’ on the wall of the altar. Hundreds of years later, his complicated artwork is still talked about, reviewed and critiqued.
Sistine Chapel Today
Today, the Sistine chapel holds the conclave to elect a new Pope. Visitors still flock in the millions to see the masterpieces created by Michelangelo. To those of the Catholic faith, the Chapel holds a high religious significance too.
In the 1990’s it was decided that the Sistine Chapel required restoration. The painstaking process revealed the technical genius of the artists of the past and revealed the real colours used on some of the most famous works in history. The restoration crew realised how difficult it must have been to paint as not all areas were straight.
There are many tour options to see the Sistine Chapel with a combination of attractions.
View the list here.
The Amazing Facts
- Since 1879, the Pope conclave is held at the Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope. If a white smoke billows out of the chimney which is visible from St Peter’s Square, that signifies a new Pope has been elected. If black smoke billows out, it means the Cardinals are still deliberating on who becomes Pope.
- The elected Pope is led to the “Hall of Tears” located under the “Last Judgment”. The hall is so named because many popes of the past burst into tears of joy upon being elected head of the Roman Catholic Church.
- Michaelangelo changed the way how God looked in the Sistine Chapel. With a long white beard and a muscular body, it seemed uncannily similar to Jupiter – the Greek God.
- The ‘Creation of Adam’ is an image from the Genesis story of where God gives Adam life.
- Michelangelo initially did not have a very mixed period as he was convinced that he was not up to par and that he could fail. He was not very familiar with fresco painting at the time, but he won the challenge and became one of the most celebrated artists ever.
Getting to the Sistine Chapel
Located inside the Vatican Museums, you will need to purchase a ticket to enter the Vatican Museums, which also includes the ticket price for the Sistine Chapel. If you prefer to book a tour which covers St Peter’s Basilica too, you can select and book one of the guided tours proposed.
If you choose to see a few additional extras, which are not available on the offered tours such as a visit to the Bramante Staircase, Cabinet of Masks (in the Vatican Museums) and Nicolina Chapel, get in touch for us to arrange that.
Attractions around the Sistine Chapel
- St Peters’ Basilica
- St Peter’s Square
- Castel Gandolfo
- Raphael Rooms
- Belvedere Courtyard with Apollo Belvedere & Laocoön & His Sons
- Pinecone Courtyard
- Gallery of the Candelabra, of the Maps, of the Tapestries
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Chapel of Nicholas V
- Cabinet of the Masks
- Vatican Gardens
- Apostolic Palace
- St. Peter’s Tumb
- Necropolis of the Vatican City
- Holy See
- Papal Audience