Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

Part of the Vatican Museums

The Sistine Chapel is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace built in 1473-1481 by Giovannino de’ Dolci as a private chapel for pope Sixtus IV. The chapel’s ceiling painting created by Michelangelo in the early sixteenth century is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of the world. The building is still used nowadays but it is open to the public as part of the Vatican Museums.

Interior

A marble screen, created by a trio of artists, divides the room into two unequal parts. The floor has beautiful geometric patterns.

The walls of the room are decorated with frescoes created in the fifteenth century by some of the best artists from Tuscany and Umbria.

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel created by Michelangelo originally resembled a blue starry sky. In 1508 pope Julius II asked him to repaint the ceiling. Michelangelo only accepted reluctantly since he considered himself a sculptor and architect rather than a painter.

The ceiling

The author of the famous masterpiece painted the ceiling with the then often used fresco technique. The ceiling is divided into nine central sections that all depict scenes from the bible, starting with the “Creation of Light” and ending with the “Drunkenness of Noah” at the altar. The most famous part of the fresco is the “Creation of Adam”, where Michelangelo depicts the almighty descending towards earth to give life to Adam. Michelangelo painted classical architectural elements such as statues and pilasters to divide the different sections.

More than twenty years after completing his ceiling masterpiece, the author also painted the Last Judgment on the wall behind the altar. But while his former work received wide recognition, his painting of the Last Judgment drew criticism from puritans who complained that there was too much nudity. Michelangelo responded by giving Minos, the donkey-eared judge of the dead, the face of his sharpest critic, Biagio da Cesena. After Michelangelo’s death the painting was censored by the pope and all private parts were overpainted by Daniele da Volterra, who received the nickname “Braghettone” (breeches maker).

The other walls are decorated with frescoes created between 1481 and 1483 by a group of renowned painters including Botticelli, Perugino, Ghirlandaio, Signorelli and Rosselli under the guidance of Pinturicchio. The paintings depict scenes in the lives of Jesus and Moses. They are considered masterpieces of Italian Renaissance, but most visitors hardly even notice them, instead giving all their attention to Michelangelo’s works.

Note

Location: Viale Vaticano, 00120 Vatican City

Nearby hotels: Caesar Place, Vatican Charme, 121 Candia Guest House

Nearby sights: St. Peter’s Basilica, La Pieta, St. Peter’s Square

Official website: http://www.museivaticani.va/3_EN/pages/CSN/CSN_Main.html

Tel.: +39 06 69884676

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