Masterpieces of the Vatican

Duration: 4-5 hours


This itinerary takes us to the Vatican Art Galleries, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.


 “To speak of the Vatican is to speak of Rome. This is as true today as it has ever been in the past. It is much more than the center of Catholicism, because it has absorbed within itself the great heritage of the Classical world in which our own civilization still has its roots. The Vatican, like Rome of old, is in a sense communis patria – the universal fatherland. It has become the richer for that, and it has suffered too. It has aroused passionate enthusiasm and love, and no less passionate hatred. Even for those who do not share the Catholic faith, and have had no contact with Western civilization, the Vatican is still a symbol, and a historical reality that must be taken into account. Therefore whatever our point of view may be, when we speak about the Vatican we have to realize its unique quality in history. We have to enter into it, to think and feel ourselves into it. Even if we consider it only as a collection of buildings and works of art (St Peter’s, the Vatican Museums, and so on) we are confronted by a unifying vision of two thousand years of Western culture.

Whether we come as pilgrims or as visitors interested in art and culture, we come up against the Vatican as an artifact of history. We can see how it grew, where it was altered or destroyed, day after day and year after year. When we go into St Peter’s or the papal palace, we are immediately immersed in history. The centuries speak to us, and we can touch, as it were, the point of intersection between an ancient and a modern world. And this is something that happens to everyone, irrespective of the breadth or narrowness of his cultural horizon.”


Excerpt taken from: Oreste Ferrari, Masterpieces of the Vatican. English translation from the Italian by Geoffrey Webb (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1971).


It is, indeed, misleading to think of the Vatican primarily as a museum or a religious art gallery. The Vatican is quite different. It is a complex still alive today, consisting of buildings of unrivaled scope and importance which have grown organically into a multifarious artistic, cultural, political and religious organization.


This itinerary – “Masterpieces of the Vatican” – takes us through the vast and assorted Vatican Art Collections and into the Sistine Chapel and on to the Saint Peter’s Basilica. At each of these sites we explore in depth the art and architecture, and discuss the intricate history of the Papal State and the legacy of its popes and their artists who contributed to making this one of the most extraordinary places in the world.


This itinerary in brief:


Vatican Museums

Pinacoteca (fine arts gallery)
Belvedere Courtyard (Cortile della Pigna)
Chiaramonti Collection
– Apoxyomenos
Pio-Clementino Collection
– Apollo Belvedere
– Laocoön
– Belvedere Torso
– Stanza Rotonda
– Stanza della Croce Greca
Bramante’s Triple Gallery
Fra Angelico’s Chapel of Nicholas V
Raphael Rooms

Sistine Chapel

St. Peter’s Basilica
Portico and bronze doors
Chapel of the Pietá
Statue of St. Peter
Baldacchino, shrines and Cathedra Petri
Monumental Tomb to Alexander VII
Papal Cenotaphs
Monument to the Last Stuarts

Piazza San Pietro
General overview


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