City Break

The Vatican Museums are Christian and art museums located within the city boundaries of the Vatican City. They display works from the immense collection amassed by Popes throughout the centuries including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of in the world. The museums contain roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display, and currently employ 640 people who work in 40 different administrative, scholarly, and restoration departments.

Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century. The Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze di Raffaello decorated by Raphael, are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums. In 2013, they were visited by 6 million people, which combined makes it the 6th most visited art museum in the world.

There are 54 galleries, or sale, in total, with the Sistine Chapel, notably, being the very last sala within the Museum. It is one of the largest museums in the world.

The Vatican Museums trace their origin to one marble sculpture, purchased 500 years ago: Laocoön and His Sons was discovered on 14 January 1506, in a vineyard near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Pope Julius II sent Giuliano da Sangallo and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who were working at the Vatican, to examine the discovery. On their recommendation, the pope immediately purchased the sculpture from the vineyard owner. The pope put the sculpture, which depicts the Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons being attacked by giant serpents, on public display at the Vatican exactly one month after its discovery.

Benedict XIV founded the Museum Christianum, and some of the Vatican collections formed the Lateran Museum, which Pius IX founded by decree in 1854.

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