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“Stunning work of art”
Review of Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel
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Early Access: Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums Ticket
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Owner description: Probably the most famous chapel in the world because of its incredible artwork, notably "The Last Judgment," Michelangelo's stunning fresco covering 10,000 square feet of the ceiling and wall.
Springfield, Tennessee
Level Contributor
855 reviews
552 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 673 helpful votes
“Stunning work of art”
Reviewed April 3, 2014

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.

Visited March 2014
2 Thank Tennessee50plus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Winnipeg, Canada
Level Contributor
19 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed April 2, 2014

When you enter it is nearly dead silent. All you're left to do is gaze at that awe-inspiring ceiling, a life experience to have at least once.

Visited May 2013
Thank KAG87
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mussoorie, India
Level Contributor
223 reviews
87 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
Reviewed April 2, 2014

Michelangelo didn't think of himself as a painter, nor did he consider painting much of an art form, so its amazing that he can create such a masterpiece when he thought so little of the medium.

And while we all think of Michelangelo since the ceiling and the front wall with its Last Judgment is the primary focus and easiest to view, do not overlook the other artists who created wonderful frescoes as well. While high up the wall they aren't as easy to view, there is the works of Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and a couple whose painters are disputed, but are impressive.

The pope asked Michelangelo for 12 apostles on the ceiling, but Michelangelo tends not to think small, and ultimately 343 figures would grace the ceiling, with the Book of Genesis at the. With his ideal of human perfection as his guide he painted a fresco cycle that would still awes us today nearly 500 years after it was created.

Please, do your homework for maximum enjoyment. Even if its Wikipedia to get a historical sense of the Sistine Chapel, but a great read I recommend "Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling" by Ross King (and if you are going to Florence, "Brunelleschi's Dome" by Ross King is a quick read to make that visit more impressive as well) We can never escape our 21st century eyes and mindset, but if you can think about it as best you can with a mindset from the 1400s it helps immensely.

What of the crowds, which seems to be a main complaint. Odds say its going to be crowded to packed. So if you don't like crowds, or can't find your own mental space when shoulder to shoulder with strangers, you might want to skip the Sistine Chapel honestly because it will be a marred visit, but here is my suggestion.

Stand still, and look up and let everyone else around you fade to the background. Some people want to look up and walk, that is a bad idea. When I stop and look up, people walked around me, and my vision was of the ceiling and everyone else became irrelevant. As they should if you are trying to soak up the the room.

Bear in mind that where you enter is at the end of the cycle, so if you want to view it in order, go to the opposite side from where you entered and work your way back to the alter. When you get to the Creation of Man, pay special attention to the gaze between man and God, its powerful and deep, and hard to imagine that kind of presence can be made from pigment, plaster and a brush.

The guards. I have read about guards moving people along like cattle and moving them out of rooms where they wanted to stay. I had no such experience honestly, and ultimately I think you can maneuver around a room enough or ask for more time and you will be given that chance.

In the Sistine Chapel they do mention repeatedly on the loudspeaker to be "quiet" and "no pictures" in multiple languages, and that can be a distraction, I understand they were trying to make sure that is doesn't become a nightmare of noise, as you would have hundreds of conversations in different languages and it would be like the Tower of Babel to say the least. As far as pictures, nothing you can take will be comparable to an inexpensive postcard, so its better to enjoy the present and if you want to look at the images in better detail spring for some postcards or a book.

I do recommend joining a tour if for nothing else to be able to jump the line of the non guided individuals. I will save you hours in come cases, but also does tie you to a group, so keep that in mind.

For me, its worth the price of admission, with crowds, with waiting, with the guards, and perhaps I am better at tuning people out, but if you don't have that skill its a good place to practice it and its a very, very useful skill to have.

Visited March 2014
Thank ThaiCookingRocks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
32 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed April 2, 2014

beautiful - a must when in Rome. would suggest reading up or a guided tour leading to the Chapel, to gain a full understanding.

Visited March 2014
Thank Amy Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manassas, Virginia
Level Contributor
35 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Michelangelo Michelangelo Michelangelo”
Reviewed April 1, 2014

I'm still in awe! This was the highlight of my Roman holiday and one I will not soon forget. The artistry and attention to detail are sheer genius. No words can adequately describe such a holy, solemn place. Speechless!

Visited March 2014
Thank Brigitte H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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