Vatican Art Collections

Duration: 4 hours

At the opening of the exhibition The Vatican Collections: The Papacy and Art, April 29, 1982, Pope John Paul II announced: “Through your efforts to promote the patrimony of art that is preserved in the Vatican, you are giving an eloquent testimony to your esteem for art and for its role in helping to uplift the human spirit to the uncreated source of all beauty.” It is in this same spirit and with the same respect for “the uncreated source of all beauty” that we begin to explore the extraordinary masterpieces of the Vatican Collections and Sistine Chapel.


The Papal Museums and Galleries” is the actual name of the Vatican Museums, a complex of enormous importance, not only because of the wealth and significance of the collections of artwork found in the museums, but equally on account of the spectacular setting in which those artworks can be viewed, often historically and thematically linked to the masterpieces exposed.  Alongside an extraordinary collection of art you will find the largest collection of antiquities in the world.

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


This itinerary unravels the major artworks from every epoch and takes us behind the scenes of ordinary visits to the Vatican Museums to learn about the cultural patrimony of the Church and the power and faith that inspired the artworks, and the ideas and ideals that gave them birth. Before us will unfold one of the finest art collections in the world, built up over centuries on account of the artistic, political and religious ambitions of the popes. We will learn of the historic dwellings of the Apostolic Palace as more than merely art galleries as we visit the papal libraries, dining halls, corridors, and quarters of the late medieval and renaissance popes. Here we will sense both the sacred and profane since it was the popes, as crowned temporal rulers, whose patrimony of culture redefined the plethora of Roman antiquity before them. While admiring the frescoes, paintings, sculptures, tapestries, mosaics, and Roman, Egyptian, Greek and Etruscan artworks and architectural spaces, we will learn of the significant events over more than 3000 years of history that lead to the creation of the sovereign Vatican City State today. We will also learn how the renaissance popes became the revitalizing and civilizing force of human creativity during both desperate and triumphant times of its history.


Major sites visited on this itinerary are the Pinacoteca (Fine Arts Gallery), the Chiaramonti Collection (Augustus of the Prima Porta), the Pio-Clementino Collection (Apoxymenos, Octagonal Courtyard, Apollo Belvedere, Laocoön, Belvedere Torso, Sala Rotonda and Sala della Croce Greca), Bramante’s triple-gallery-corridor, the Apostolic Palace (Chapel of Pope Nicolas V by Fra Angelico’s and the Raphael Rooms) and the summit of the entire visit, the Sistine Chapel.


The itinerary in brief:


Vatican Museums
Historical overview of socio-urban development
Pinacoteca (Fine Arts Gallery)
Belvedere Courtyard (Cortile della Pigna)
Chiaramonti Collection
– Augustus of the Prima Porta
– Apoxyomenos
Pio Clementino Collection
– Apollo Belvedere
– Laocoön
– Belvedere Torso
– Stanza Rotonda
– Stanza della Croce Greca
The Triple Gallery
– Gallery of the Candelabra
– Gallery of the Tapestries
– Gallery of the Geographical Cards
Fra Angelico’s Chapel of Nicholas V
Raphael Rooms
– Sala di Costantino
– Stanza di Eliodoro
– Stanza della Segnatura
– Stanza dell’Incendio di Borgo


Sistine Chapel
Corridor of Bramante

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