Sistine Chapel tickets

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Sistine Chapel Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel - Home to Michelangelo's The Last Judgement

The Sistine Chapel is a papal chapel located in the Vatican Palace and is one of the world's most important chapels. Built by Pope Sixtus IV between 1477 and 1480, its renowned frescoes, including the iconic The Last Judgment, painted by Michelangelo from 1508 to 1512, are Renaissance masterpieces. When you visit the Vatican Museums and its 54 galleries, the Sistine Chapel will notably be the last room you visit.

How to access the Chapel?

The chapel is situated in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope. You can enter through the Vatican Museum entrance on Viale Vaticano, located on the north side of Vatican City. It's on the right side if you look at St. Peter's Basilica from St Peter's Square.

Access to the Sistine Chapel is included in all Vatican Museum tickets.

Sistine Chapel in a nutshell

entrance accessible through the Vatican Museums

Highlights: Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment and The Creation of Adam, Botticelli's frescoes depicting the story of Christ and Moses, the chapel's architectural design.
Current use: The Sistine Chapel serves as the Pope's personal chapel and the site of the papal conclave.
Entrance: No separate entrance; accessible through the Vatican Museums.
Unique facts: 

  • Michelangelo's ceiling frescoes, a globally famous artwork, covers about 12,000 sqft.
  • In the 1560s, Pope Pius IV ordered fig leaves and loincloths to cover the nudes in Michelangelo’s paintings
  • The chapel, initially for worship, had thick walls for Vatican defense

Your Sistine Chapel tickets explained

Skip-the-line tickets

Guided tours

After hours access

Combo deals

Is Sistine Chapel access included?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Why go for it?

Save time. Hosted entry ensures a relaxed experience. Explore the chapel's beautiful and symbolic frescoes without feeling rushed.

Includes skip-the-line entry for an efficient visit. Active engagement with complimentary audio equipment.

Crowd-free setting for a deeper connection with art. Enjoy 30-minute breakfast in the Vatican's Courtyard.

One package for complete experience, no separate tickets or multiple bookings. Great for those with time constraints or tourists wanting essential highlights.

Starting price

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What's inside the Sistine Chapel?

Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Entrance wall

The entrance wall of the Chapel is decorated with the following frescoes that depict the final episodes in the lives of Christ and Moses:
• Resurrection of Christ
• Discussion over the body of Moses

The original frescos created by Ghirlandaio and Signorelli respectively were destroyed in 1522 when the architrave of the door collapsed. They were replaced in 1522 by the works of Hendrik van den Broeck and Matteo da Lecce.

Last Judgement, Sistine Chapel

Chapel’s ceiling

The frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, include:
• Nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, including the iconic The Creation of Adam
• Ancestors of Jesus
• Twelve Prophets
• Sibyls
• Four corner paintings representing the salvation of the Jewish people

Michelangelo painted over 300 figures on the curved ceiling, initially commissioned for the 12 Apostles. His innovative scaffolding system facilitated the work, inspiring artists.

Southern Wall, Sistine Chapel

The northern wall

The northern wall of the Sistine Chapel is decorated with the Stories of Jesus, painted in 1481-1482:
• Baptism of Christ
• Temptation of Christ
• Cleansing of the Leper
• Vocation of the Apostles
• The Sermon on the Mount
• The Delivery of the Keys
• The Last Supper

Beyond the windows, you will also find three episodes of the Passion: the Agony in the garden, the Arrest of Jesus, and the Crucifixion. The cycle ends with the Resurrection of Christ on the entrance wall.

Northern Wall, Sistine Chapel

The southern wall

The southern wall of the Sistine Chapel is decorated with the Stories of Moses. Painted in 1481-1482, some of the famous frescoes on the southern wall are:
• Moses Leaving to Egypt
• The Trials of Moses
• The Crossing of the Red Sea
• Handing over the Tablets of Law
• Descent from Mount Sinai
• Punishment of the Rebels
• Testament and Death of Moses

The cycle ends on the entrance wall with the Dispute over the body of Moses.

The altar wall - sistine chapel

The altar wall

The entire altar wall of the Sistine Chapel features Michelangelo's masterpiece, The Last Judgment, painted between 1534 and 1541. This monumental fresco depicts the Second Coming of Christ and the final judgment of humanity, based on the 20th chapter of the Revelation of John. Highlights are:
• Heroic central image of Jesus Christ surrounded by saints and prophets.
• Figures of the blessed ascending to heaven on Christ's right, pulled by angels.
• Figures of the damned being dragged to hell on Christ's left by demons.
• Michelangelo's self-portrait as St. Bartholomew holding his flayed skin.
• Intentionally distorted and exaggerated human proportions.

It's a climactic conclusion to the biblical narrative depicted in the chapel's ceiling and walls.

Architectural highlights of Sistine Chapel

Sistine chapel Renaissance design

The Sistine Chapel, built 1473-1481 under the Florentine architect Baccio Pontelli, epitomizes Renaissance design, where form and function come together to set a stunning stage for the renowned art it houses. The rectangular plan, a Renaissance hallmark, maximizes the visibility of the works, while the barrel-vaulted ceiling, a nod to Roman engineering, creates a unified space.

The six arched windows allow natural light to enter illuminating the famous frescoes by Michelangelo that accessorize the vaulted ceiling. The intricate geometric floor complements the artwork on the walls and ceiling. The marble chancel screen by Mino da Fiesole acts as a decorative barrier separating the altar area from the rest of the chapel.

Historical and cultural significance of the Sistine Chapel

  • The Sistine Chapel was constructed between 1473 and 1481 under the patronage of Pope Sixtus IV, after whom the chapel is named. The original medieval chapel on the site was demolished, with the new chapel retaining the asymmetrical plan and brick walls of the previous structure.
  • The interior walls were initially decorated with frescoes by Renaissance artists like Perugino, Botticelli, and Ghirlandaio in 1481-1483. These frescoes depicted scenes from the lives of Moses and Christ.
  • In 1508, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the chapel's ceiling. Michelangelo completed this monumental work between 1508-1512.
  • Michelangelo was also commissioned to paint The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the chapel, which he completed between 1536 and 1541.
  • Since 1878, the Sistine Chapel has served as the site of the papal conclave, where cardinals gather to elect a new pope upon the death or resignation of the previous pontiff.
  • The chapel's artworks, especially Michelangelo's frescoes, are considered some of the greatest achievements of the Italian Renaissance and have had a profound impact on Western art.

Notable figures of Sistine Chapel

Pope Sixtus IV

The Sistine Chapel is named after the Pope Sixtus, as he commissioned the original construction of the chapel between 1473-1481.

Michelangelo

The renowned Renaissance artist, Michelangelo was originally a sculptor, who painted the iconic frescoes on the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the altar wall, including The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment.

Pope Julius II

Pope Julius II, known as the Warrior Pope, was a central figure of the High Renaissance and a patron of the arts. He commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1508.

Raphael

Raphael designed a series of tapestries to cover the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel in 1515-1516. Inspired by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling, Raphael included Michelangelo's likeness in his School of Athens.

Giovanni dei Dolci

Dolci is architect who designed the original Sistine Chapel building in the 15th century.

Visitor tips

  • Try to visit the Sistine Chapel either first thing in the morning before the crowds arrive, or later in the afternoon when the crowds have thinned out.
  • Every corner of the chapel is adorned with beautiful frescoes, each backed by fascinating stories and rich symbolism. Consider a guided tour to fully appreciate the breadth of these masterpieces.
  • If you prefer self-paced exploration, we recommend brushing up these artworks beforehand so you're not just left admiring the pretty pictures.
  • Remember to dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees, as a sign of respect for the sacred nature of the Sistine Chapel.
  • Observe silence inside the Sistine Chapel, as speaking above a whisper is prohibited to preserve the contemplative atmosphere.
  • Familiarize yourself with the layout of the Vatican Museums to streamline your journey to the Sistine Chapel and make the most of your time.
  • Once inside, take your sweet time to fully appreciate the stunning frescoes by Michelangelo and other Renaissance masters and understand the symbolism behind each scene.

Frequently asked questions about Sistine Chapel tickets

Do I need to purchase separate tickets for the Sistine Chapel?

No, a ticket to the Vatican Museums includes entry to the Sistine Chapel. The chapel is located within the Vatican Museums complex. You can buy these tickets online. You can also join a guided tour with priority access.

Is skip-the-line access needed for Sistine Chapel tickets?

The Sistine Chapel can be very crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. Skip-the-line access is highly recommended to avoid long wait times and make the most of your visit to one of the world’s most significant chapels. You can buy these tickets online. You can also join a guided tour with priority access.

Does the Vatican guided tour cover Sistine Chapel as well?

Yes, Vatican guided tours do include the Sistine Chapel. In fact, it's one of the key highlights. You can explore and admire the iconic frescoes by Michelangelo and other Renaissance artists with a professional guide, enriching your experience with exciting stories and lesser-known facts.

What is the ideal time frame to explore Sistine Chapel?

Most visitors spend 30-45 minutes inside the Sistine Chapel to admire Michelangelo's frescoes. Of course, this can vary depending on the crowds and your personal pace. However, it is recommended to allocate a couple of hours for your visit, as you will start your journey at the Vatican Museums and explore several rooms before reaching the chapel. The Sistine Chapel is a place where you don't want to rush, so taking the time to appreciate each detail in the frescoes is essential for a fulfilling experience.

Do I need to book tickets in advance, or can I purchase them on the day of my visit?

You can book the tickets on-site, but both the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are famous landmarks and availability might run out, especially in the peak season. Therefore, to secure better deals and ensure access, it is recommended to book Sistine Chapel tickets in advance rather than waiting to purchase them on the day of your visit.

Can I take photos inside the Sistine Chapel?

No, photography and filming are strictly prohibited inside the Sistine Chapel. This is to protect the delicate frescoes from the damage caused by camera flashes.

Is there any dress code for visiting the Sistine Chapel?

The Sistine Chapel has a strict dress code that requires visitors to have their shoulders and knees covered. Sleeveless tops, shorts, and miniskirts are not allowed. Proper attire is required for entry.

Is the Sistine Chapel accessible for visitors with disabilities?

Yes, the Sistine Chapel is accessible for visitors with disabilities. Wheelchairs and strollers are permitted, and there are elevators available to reach the chapel. Visitors should inform their tour operator or the Vatican staff of any special needs.

Is the Sistine Chapel suitable for children?

The Sistine Chapel is generally considered appropriate for children, as it is a significant cultural and religious site. However, the long lines, strict dress code, and need for quiet contemplation may make it challenging for very young children. Parents should use their discretion based on their child's age and attention span.