If you’re planning to visit the Vatican Museums, get ready for one of the world’s biggest collection of artworks. Since you usually don’t have that much time to see everything there is to see, it can be difficult to choose among all these amazing points of interest. To help you do that, we present you with a list of seven things you must see when in the Vatican Museums.
As an art lover, you will, without a doubt, enjoy the Pinacoteca and the paintings from the Medieval age until the 19th century which is displayed there in as many as 18 rooms. After the Congress of Vienna (1815), many of those works were retrieved from Paris. Some of the artists whose works you can see there include Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, il Perugino, and Caravaggio.
The Pio-Clementino Museum
If you also love sculpture, the Pio-Clementino Museum is the next stop for you. This is the biggest complex in the Museums founded by Pope Clement XIV in 1771. It contains 12 rooms where major Greek and Roman masterpieces are displayed, some of which include a Roman copy of a Greek bronze statue by Lysippus (the Gabinetto dell’Apoxyomenos), Apollo Belvedere (the Octagon Courtyard), the Laocoön sculpted group, Perseus with the head of Medusa by Antonio Canova, etc.
Gregorian Egyptian Museum
In 1839, the Gregorian Egyptian Museum was founded on the initiative by Pope Gregorius XVI. And today, it is the best place for all of you who love antiques. There are nine rooms which encompass finds of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Mesopotamia, and Assyria. As you can get, mummies are a major attraction there.
Gallery of Geographical Maps
The series of topographic maps commissioned by Pope Gregorius XIII painted on the walls by Ignazio Danti make the Gallery of Geographical Maps worth being on the list of must-see things in the Vatican Museums. Leading to the Sistine Chapel, this Gallery will make your visit even more enjoyable and enchanting, you can be sure of that.
The Pavilion of the Coaches
The Pavilion of the Coaches is a separated section of the Historical Museum which hides a real treasure that everyone passionate about historic vehicles will surely enjoy. There are coaches, cars and sedan chairs used by various popes, as well as a scale model of the first Vatican City locomotive (1929).
Here we come to one of the main attractions of the Vatican Museums, probably ranking right after the Sistine Chapel. Pope Julius II decided to entrust Raphael with frescoes, which was, without a doubt, the best choice he could have made. The most famous among these rooms is the Stanza della Segnatura (“Roo of Signature“) where you can see the private library of Pope Julius II and frescoes Disputation of the Holy Sacrament (Theology), The Parnassus (Poetry), The School of Athens (Philosophy) and The Cardinal Virtues (Law).
Another famous room is the Stanza di Eliodoro (“Room of Heliodorus”) which was painted between 1511 and 1514. One of the frescoes you’ll get to see there is The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, a scene which represents Heliodorus of Antioch trying to profane the temple of Jerusalem.
The Helical Staircase
Last but not least, at the end of the itinerary leading outside of the Museums, the Helical Staircase will make even the end of your visit enjoyable. Designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932, the staircase has a double helical spiral, which will take your breath away if you look up from downstairs.
Of course, it goes without saying that Michelangelo Buonarroti’s masterpiece is a must, so we assume we don’t have to include the Sistine Chapel here – everyone knows that you can’t go to the Vatican Museum and skip the Sistine Chapel.
All in all, whatever you decide to see during your visit, you can’t go wrong. You might only regret not seeing more, but as we said, there’s usually not enough time to see so many breathtaking works of art in one place, so be grateful for what you did manage and start planning your next visit. We’re sure you’ll enjoy every second there. We hope our list will help you narrow the choice down.