The entrance to the Museums is in Viale del Vaticano. Take metro to get to the Ottaviano station.
Let me give you a tip: order the admission tickets on the Internet. I’ve heard a lot about long queues for the Vatican Museums. You cannot imagine it until you see the queue with your own eyes. Just imagine a few hundred meters long queue for tickets. And it was only Tuesday, September, an ordinary work day.
As for us we ordered the tickets in advance and just passed through the gatekeeper who was standing next to the queue. He checked our tickets with a barcode scanner and we entered the Museums. It costs 3 euro more but it will save your time greatly. I’m sure every single moment in Rome is worth its weight in gold, isn’t it?
The Museums offer a few guided tours – A, B, C, D. To begin with, it’s not physically possible to see all the Museums in one day. But at least you always can do your best to see as much as possible. The answer to the most frequently asked question about the possibility to visit only the Sistine Chapel is “No”. There are signs that can shorten your route but in any case you will have to pay the admission fee and pass through a few rooms. But it is worth it.
The following are the main sections of the Vatican Museums.
The courtyard of the Vatican Museums
Here you can see the famous bronze pine cone of the 3rd century which decorated the Baths of Nero. You can also see a giant orb placed there in 1990.
This Art Gallery includes 17 rooms which have collections of religious paintings of 13th – 17th centuries. Among the paintings you can see works of Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and other famous painters.
Museo Pio Clementino
It includes 12 rooms which contain collections of the most significant Ancient Roman and Ancient Greek paintings.
On your way to the Sistine Chapel you pass through the following galleries:
Galleria degli Arazzi is the Gallery of the tapestries depicting the Life of Christ. The tapestries were painted by Rafael’s disciples and in 1523 – 1534 they were woven in Brussels.
Galleria delle Carte
It’s the Gallery of 40 Maps painted by Ignazio Danti in 1580-1583. I was mostly impressed by the decorations on the maps room ceiling.
After the Gallery of Maps you find yourself in the Raphael Rooms with many works by Raphael’s disciples and his workshop. The Gallery contains 4 rooms.
Finally, we enter the Sistine Chapel. The chapel is considered to be a place of religious and papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new Pope is selected. The decoration of the Chapel including the most famous part of the room called The Last Judgment was mainly by Michelangelo.
Despite the fact that photography is prohibited in the room all the visitors were taking photos that day. In the section “Photos of Vatican” you can see some photos of Vatican.
At the end of the route you will see the famous spiral stairs of the Vatican Museums. After a short rest we made our way to Saint Peter’s Basilica.