Vatican Museum

The history of the Vatican and the history of the Catholic Church are barely separable. The religious center of Europe since its inception, presiding over the Middle ages, through the enlightenment and still to this day, inside the Vatican museum you will find an enormous collection of art collected through it"s centuries of history, from Egyptian pieces to Etruscan ruins to Renaissance paintings and, of course, the legendary Sistine Chapel. Of all of the museums, not just in Italy but the world over, this one is not to be missed. Deep in the holy center of Vatican City, this museum is a graceful repository of treasures from ranging the entire history of the Vatican and housed in a series of palaces, apartments and galleries leading to the Sistine Chapel.

Italy Vatican Museum
Italy Vatican Museum

Located on the north side of Vatican City, a spiral ramp leads visitors inside the Vatican museum, a haphazard array of corridors and papal spaces. Though not arranged in any intuitive fashion, any Vatican tour will lead you to the most famous room in Italy: the Sistine Chapel. But before you get there, there are a multitude of other things to see, primarily the Raphael rooms: these were private quarters built for Julius II with the artist"s frescoes spread across the walls and ceiling. His masterwork, the School of Athens, Connected to these rooms are the Borgia apartments, designed for pope Alexander VI and displaying frescoes depicting the resurrection of Christ amongst other repeated biblical themes.

Long galleries of tapestries are another highlight inside the Vatican museum, and the history of the Vatican defers to a surprising collection of modern religious art by masters such as Matisse, Gauguin, Chagall and Picasso. Ancient cartography is on display in the gallery of the maps, where obsolete territories are crafted in pale blues and greens, the lands" ever-changing borders finally kept still for posterity. Even though the Renaissance paintings garner much of the praise heaped on the museum, the Vatican library holds an impressive and enchanting collection of crumbling documents, medieval treaties and antique books.

As the ruling power, Vatican City was often the depot for spoils of war and gifts from abroad. These treasures are interwoven with finds excavated in the roman hills, rich with ruins and Etruscan antiques, making the Vatican museum more than just a showcase for religious art. Greek sculptures and Egyptian mummies are amongst these ancient artifacts.

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