The Vatican Museums are one of the most beautiful and vast art collections in the whole world, as they gather a huge amount of artworks amassed by the Popes throughout the centuries. The complex includes 26 museums, a few archeological areas and some restoration laboratories. Certainly, you won’t like to miss the experience, but you may be worried about the crowds. Luckily, we offer some Vatican experiences that make for a tranquil visit, lacking the crowds and noise that typically go hand in hand with a Vatican visit. In this guide, you can find the most exclusive Vatican experiences that we offer.
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Now, imagine you had the possibility to wander around admiring these sights like just walking out of a dream at night. Enjoy the silence. This tour will ensure you are the only one inside the museums at this time, under the attentive care of a personal guide authorized by Vatican City State.
Why This Tour is So Exclusive
We said it before and we will say it again. This tour visits the Vatican Museums after the museums closes for the evening. The whole purpose behind the tour is to explore the Museums in privacy. If we aren’t being clear enough, let us reiterate that on this tour, there will be almost no one inside of the Vatican. It might be only you and the members of your private tour group. Looking to explore the Sistine Chapel in complete silence? Looking to experience the piousness of such a sacred sight in your own spiritual manner? This is the tour for you.
What You’ll See
The first step of your tour of the Vatican museums will be the Pinecone Courtyard designed by Donato Bramante, which hosts two bronze masterpieces from different ages: the Pinecone by Publio Cincio Savio (II century A.C.) and the Sphere by Arnaldo Pomodoro (1979/1980). The two great sculptures complete and compare themselves like old and new: in ancient Rome the pinecone was the symbol of immortality and rebirth, while the complicated mechanism of the sphere symbolizes the complexity of phenomena within a shell of exterior perfection.
Octagonal Belvedere Courtyard
From this area, you will access the Octagonal Belvedere Courtyard, the heart of the Museo Pio Clementino, a section dedicated to Greek-Roman art. The statue of Laocoön and His Sons will catch your eye and our guide will tell you about the tragic end of the Greek priest Laocoön and of his sons killed during the Trojan war by sea serpents sent by the Goddess Athena.
Sala delle Muse
Visit Sala delle Muse, where the Belvedere Torso stands out, a powerful mutilated fragment of an ancient statue by Apollonio. It is proved that Michelangelo himself got inspiration from this statue for some of his paintings.
Greek Cross Room
You will proceed to the Greek Cross Room, which was the hallway of the Museo Pio Clementino, as you can deduct from the inscription “Museum Pium” on the entrance portal.
Much more to see in the Round Hall, which contains the porphyry tub originally located in Nero’s Domus Aurea.
Gallery of Candelabra
The next step will be the Gallery of Candelabra, which derives its name from the monumental marble candelabras that define the six exhibition areas. Here the ancient works of art are placed like pieces of furniture along the gallery, at the end of which is a monumental bronze gate.
Gallery of the Tapestries
In the Gallery of the Tapestries, you will admire Flemish tapestries made in Brussels in the laboratory of Pieter van Aelst at the time of Pope Clemente VII (1523-1534) after cartoons by Raphael’s pupils. They were exposed for the first time in the Sistine Chapel in 1531. The gallery is provided with a very sophisticated air conditioning system able to preserve these precious and very fragile tapestries that cover all the walls of the gallery, from floor to ceiling.
Gallery of the Maps
In the Gallery of the Maps, you’ll find topographic maps of Italy which represent the first complete illustrations of Italy according to cartographers in late 1500. This gallery is even more interesting as you can admire the amazing Vatican Gardens from its windows.
Once in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, you will be guided to the Raphael Rooms. These rooms were commissioned to Raphael by Pope Julius II at the beginning of 1500. Julius II was a great mecenate with a very bad temper. After being elected as the new Pope, Julius II refused to stay in the rooms of his hated predecessor Alessandro Borgia. He decided to move upstairs and entrusted Raphael to paint his new apartments. Here, among other beautiful paintings of this supreme artist, you can admire the School of Athens, which describes the most important philosophers of the time while discussing with one another.
You finally get to the Borgia Apartments. These rooms were used by Pope Alexander VI from 1492 to 1503 and were for the most part frescoed by the famous painter Pinturicchio. Nowadays they house part of the Collection of Modern Religious Art of the Vatican Museums inaugurated by Paul VI in 1973.
Built in 1505 by Donato Bramante, the Bramante Staircase allowed to reach the Octagonal Courtyard and Pope Innocenzo VIII’ s villa without walking through the Apostolic Palace. How strong your emotion will be when walking up the same staircase that was used by Michelangelo during his stay in Rome?
At the end of your tour you will get to the Sistine Chapel, which deserves being admired quietly and respectfully. Do not forget that you will be the only visitors inside and can stare at the incredible Last Judgement, the stories of the Genesis and all other frescoes by Michelangelo completely undisturbed by the crowd.
Why This Tour is So Exclusive
While most tour groups are allowed to enter the Vatican Museums at 8 a.m., this tour allows you to enter at 7:30 a.m., a full hour and a half before the general public. This means that you will be one of the first to enter the Sistine Chapel that day. Though it’s an early start, you’ll get to experience the Museums with only a few other groups inside. You will be exiting the Vatican Museums just as the general public can enter. How’s that for exclusive access?
What You’ll See
If you are interested in visiting St. Peter’s Basilica, too, you may choose our Super Early Private Vatican Platinum Tour with Sistine Chapel, that gives you an entire hour and a half before the museums open to the general public at 7:30 a.m.
After visiting the highlights in the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, from here you will be granted access to St. Peter’s Basilica through a special door.
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest buildings in the world and the largest among the Pope’s churches. The construction of the church as we see it today was started in 1506 by Donato Bramante, pursued by Michelangelo and completed by Jacopo de la Porta and Domingo Fontana, while the façade was finished by Bernini in 1633. St. Peter is the universal seat of the Catholic Church and the Pope’s Home. On this tour you will also visit the Popes’ Tombs located 3 meters underneath the central aisle of the church.