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Must See Attractions at the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are a necessary stop for any trip to the Vatican. These art and Christian museums are visited by millions of people annually and is collectively considered the 6th most visited art museum in the world. With 54 galleries and about 20,000 works on display, merely exploring can take hours if you do so without a plan. It’s even possible that you may not be able to view everything due to time constraints. Below is a list of the highlights – not including the Sistine Chapel – you shouldn’t miss out on.

The Vatican Pinacoteca

This is an art-lover’s dream: the Vatican Pinacoteca contains several masterpieces that previously belonged to different popes, all collected under one roof. There are 460 paintings here, as well as tapestries, icons, and sculptures, all spread out over eighteen rooms and displayed in chronological order. In addition to Caravaggio’s Deposition and da Vinci’s St. Jerome in the Wilderness, here you’ll find Raphael’s penultimate work: the Transfiguration.

The Raphael Rooms

One of the main attractions in the Vatican Museums, second only to the Sistine Chapel, is the Raphael Rooms. These four rooms are known as the Stanze of Raphael and used to be part of the private apartments of Pope Julius II. Raphael himself worked on them from 1508 until 1520, and his students took on the task of finishing the works when he died. The frescoes were ultimately completed in 1524 and depict various themes. Of the rooms, the Stanza della Segnatura is the most famous. It used to house Julius II’s private library and contains frescoes that depict the four main themes of knowledge: Theology, Philosophy, Poetry, and Law.

The Gallery of Maps

The Galleria delle Carte Geografiche contains the largest collection of geographical paintings ever created. Commissioned by Gregory XIII in the 16th century, these maps are wall-sized and depict Italy and scenes from various Italian provinces. They are spectacularly detailed and are a fun romp if you have any interest in history, geography, or Italy in general. The Gallery of Maps also houses the second most photographed ceiling in the Vatican Museums. (First place belongs to the Sistine Chapel, of course.)

The Gregorian Egyptian Museum

The Vatican’s Egyptian collection is housed in what used to be the apartments of Pius IV, spread out over nine rooms. The Gregorian Egyptian Museum was founded by Gregory XVI in 1839 and houses several antiquities gathered from Egypt, ancient Mesopotamia, and Assyria. The main attraction here is the head of Pharaoh Mentuhotep, who is considered to be the founder of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt.

The Pio-Clementino Museum

Founded by Pope Clement XIV in 1771, the Pio-Clementino museum houses important Greek and Roman sculptures that are considered to be masterpieces. The collection is spread out over 12 rooms and includes the Laocoön and sons sculpture. Retrieved from a vineyard in Rome, it depicts a scene from the Aeneid when the Trojan priest Laocoön and his sons were attacked by sea serpents after choosing to warn the citizens of Troy about the infamous horse that caused the great city to fall.

Do you want to get into the Vatican Museums for free? Every last Sunday of the month, admission is free! Check this Visit Vatican Museums Post on Italy Now for a list of dates. Schedule doesn’t work out for you? Want to avoid the crowds and queueing for a ticket altogether? Buy your tickets with Tour Italy Now by clicking Buy Vatican Museum Tickets Now.

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Post By Priscila Siano (317 Posts)

+Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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