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Vatican Museum: World’s Best Art Gallery – 2020 Guide

by Stephanie Scott

Just as the Vatican City attracts millions of faithful Catholics to visit, the Vatican Museums have continuously attracted artists and art patrons to make a pilgrimage in the name of art.  The variety of things to see in the Vatican Museums are massive and expansive. It is worth every cent to visit the place just to witness the glorious arts of ancient Rome and Renaissance masters like Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael.

Sadly, despite all these works of art, many people miss out on the opportunity to visit the city and these museums due to a tight budget. Airline tickets could easily fetch around one grand one way to Rome. Hotels could be easily higher than that. The ticket in the Vatican Museums is €17 if purchased on-site, and €21 if pre-purchased online. This can be quite a headache. But should this be really a reason for not trying to see the city? Actually, there are many ways to save money while traveling. The best way to do this is to get travel coupons for discounts on airline tickets to and hotel accommodation in Rome and the Vatican. Browse over thousands of discount coupons for airline tickets, hotels, and tours! For the best discount coupons, you may visit this website.

Now that we have solved the issue of a tight budget, perhaps we can now concern ourselves with the marvels of the Vatican City and the treasures inside the Vatican Museums.

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The Vatican Museums were created in the year 1506 upon Pope Julius II’s purchase of the ancient Greek sculpture of “Laocoön,” a Trojan priest depicted as being strangled by a mythical sea serpent with his two sons as the Gods’ punishment for attempting to warn the Trojans about the trick of the Trojan Horse. The Pope held a public exhibition of the sculpture and was later on continued with exhibitions of other works of art and artistic treasures. Since then, the treasures and art possessions of the Vatican grew to more than 70,000. As it grew, so did the arts being exhibited in the museum. Currently, more than 1,400 galleries, halls, and chapels now contain these arts and relics with most of them being accessible for public viewing. Since it started in 1506, the Museum did not cease with its function and is now considered to be one of the oldest, most-visited and best museums on the planet. With its staggering collections and huge building, this Museum is also known as the largest museum in the world.

If you are not yet convinced, here are some of the top attractions in the Vatican Museums

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  • The Sistine Chapel – Word famous for its grand and larger than life frescoed ceiling painted by none-other-than Michelangelo between 1505 and 1512, the Sistine Chapel is in itself a huge canvas of art. The biggest draw of the chapel is “The Last Judgment,” “The Creation of Adam,” and “The Fall of Man” and the “Expulsion from Paradise” – all works by Michelangelo. Aside from containing what some might consider being the biggest collection of the best examples of the artistry in the Renaissance, the Chapel is also known for being the primary gathering place of the Sacred College of Cardinals who are brought together whenever a new pope is elected.
  • The Raphael Rooms – Michelangelo is not the only Renaissance master featured in the Vatican Museums. The Museums also contain the four suits of the Raphael Rooms. Also located inside the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms contains the best works of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino and his students.  These rooms are in fact galleries found on the second floor of the Pontifical Palace. Like the main hall of the Sistine Chapel, the rooms also contain massive frescoes. Among these frescoes are  “The School of Athens.” Cheekily, Raphael also created a self-portrait disguised as the Greek painter Apelles of Kos.

  • Pio-Clementino Museum – Located within the smaller Belvedere Palace of Innocent VIII (1484-1492), the Museo Pio-Clementino exhibit is a marble hall that contains one of the biggest collections of Classical Greek and Roman statues on the planet. People may recognize a few examples are the Roman copy of the Greek marble statue of Apollo. This statute was in fact first cast in bronze during the 4th century BC.
  • The Gallery of Maps – In Latin, this is known as Galleria delle Carte Geografiche. Although visitors to the museums only through the Gallery of Maps on their way to the Sistine Chapel, it is perhaps one of the biggest hits in tours of the exhibits in the Vatican Museums. This Gallery is about 394 feet with an exhibition from one end to the other end with more than 40 full-size geographical paintings of maps of Ignazio Danti, famous Renaissance Dominican monk, and cosmographer. 
  • The Gregorian Etruscan Museum – Etruscan is the civilization that preceded the ancient Roman civilization. As basically the ancestors of the Romans, many of their arts are considered of great value to the Italians and also to the past Popes. Pope Gregory XVI commissioned the building of the Gregorian Etruscan Museum around the mid-1800s. This Museum now has eight galleries, exhibiting a wide array of collections of relics created by the less studied Etruscan civilization. Many of the Etruscans arts found in this Museum are made of bronze, glass, ivory, and ceramics and were discovered from the ancient Latium and in other cities in and around central Italy.
  • The Chiaramonti Museum – Named after Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti (1800-1823), the Chiaramonti Museum is located in a long hall, which is like the Gallery of Maps is also lined with works of arts. This time, instead of maps, thousands of ancient marble portrait busts and idealistic and funerary sculptures, are on display. Visitors can also find the rare 1st-century statue of Augustus, the Emperor of Rome. 

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  • The Gregorian Egyptian Museums – Most people visiting the Vatican City may be surprised to find a huge collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the Vatican Museums. In fact, for centuries, Egyptian treasures had been sought after by European collectors, including the many Popes of the City. Established in the year 1839, the Museo Gregoriano Egiziano contains a massive collection of ancient mummies, papyruses, and Egyptian arts. In the 70s, Near East arts were also added and can also be seen by the visitors.
  • The Gallery of Tapestries – The Gallery of Tapestries, also known as Galleria degli Arazzi, is a 246 feet long gallery that is much smaller than the Gallery of Maps. As its name suggests, this gallery features tapestries and rugs woven in Rome by the famous Barberini workshop at the height of the reign of Pope Urban VIII. The gallery is also beautifully decorated with trompe l’oeil, a type of painting technique that creates an optical illusion that the painted subject is real. A must-see is “The Resurrection.” People love the “moving perspective” by which Jesus’ eyes seem to continue gazing at the viewers as they walk by.

  • The Borgia Apartment – This part of the Vatican Museums gained popularity when the show The Borgia’s was still on. The Borgia Apartment contains the frescoes created by Bernardino di Betto, popularly known by his nickname Pinturicchio. “The Resurrection,” a scene was revealed that is believed to be the earliest known European painting of Native Americans—the fresco was completed just two years after Christopher Columbus had returned from his travels to the New World.
  • The Spiral Staircase – This is perhaps the newest in the list of top attractions inside the Vatican Museums. However, this place is just irresistible for being so photo-worthy. This staircase was built only in 1932 and will lead visitors down from the museums. It was designed as a double helix staircase by Giuseppe Momo, a famous Italian architect.  Many visitors who visit the Vatican Museums take photos on the elegant spiral staircase. 

Hopefully, the budget will not be the reason for you to miss out on this wonderful opportunity to visit the Vatican Museums or any museum in any country. Just look for the best coupons to help you get a discounted holiday abroad. Other than discounts for travel, you can also get discounted coupons for restaurants and other attractions.

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