The Sistine Chapel is a stunning work of art that can be appreciated by everyone regardless of your religion. The skill, time and patience that had to go into creating the work will be awesome to anyone. This is definitely the highlight of a visit to the Vatican museum. It is smaller than what many people expect it to be. Though you see hundreds of photos here, they do discourage picture taking and try to enforce the silence rules, especially when large crowds arrive. I have visited twice now and have always been to enjoy the chapel with almost no one in it except the guards. To fully appreciate the magnitude and spirituality of the chapel, you need to be able to sit in silence and linger on each painting without the constant roar of the crowd and the reprimands from the guards to those who are oblivious to the rules. If you want a chance to have it to yourself for 20 to thirty minutes, do the following and your chances of doing so will increase. Buy your tickets on line in advance of your arrival. Book the earliest time slot in the morning. Arrive at least one hour early. Even though the tours go in earlier, they wonder through the gardens and other parts of the museum long before ever going to the chapel. With a pre-paid ticket, you will not have to stand in line. The guards will usually let you in about 45 minutes early. Be nice, be patient. So if you book for 9am, you will probably get in at 8:15am. This is only 15 minutes after the early tours. Go straight to the ticket counter for pre-paid and swap you voucher for your tickets. Enter the museum and bypass everything until you see the "short" route to the Sistine chapel. It is to the left past the audio guides and then a quick right down a long hallway. You will arrive in the chapel in about 5 minutes. It will usually be empty and stay that way for 20 to 30 minutes when the maddening crowds arrive. But this 20 minutes is priceless. Afterwards, you can backtrack and see the rest of the museum at your leisure. I do not recommend the overpriced tours and do not fall for the "street" people tours that will try to coax you into an "English" tour. They are not worth it and they rush you through. You bypass more lines with a pre-paid ticket. If you need commentary, get an audio guide at the entrance. They are available in most languages and allow you to tour what you want, when you want at your leisure. There is also great food in the museum at a reasonable price.
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