When you come to Italy, the Vatican City is most likely on the top of your bucket list.
Renowned for its stunning buildings and famous artwork is hidden about-but how much beauty is actually within this tiny city?
About Vatican City’s Artwork
Throughout Vatican’s long history, the region as been known for its lavish designs. Being the home of the long line of Popes, with each one commissioning various artworks and buildings for their private homes or the public. Famous painters, sculptors, and architects all created some of their best work here, with the Renaissance era, producing the Vatican’s most beautiful artworks. Over the years, the Vatican’s reputation has brought in countless artworks from around Italy, to present the country’s astonishing variety of beautiful artworks for all to see in one place. Nowadays, there are dozens of buildings that are home to beloved art, taking days to see all that the Vatican has to offer.
The Best Buildings to See
The Sistine Chapel is by far one of the Vatican’s biggest tourist spots. Splattered on the city’s postcards, the build is stunning both inside and out. The chapel is built on the foundation of a much older chapel, known as the Capella Magna. It was commissioned in the 1470s, by the Pope Sixtus IV- hence how it got its name. At this time, the famous chapel’s ceiling was a simple plain blue sky with a few stars scattered across. However, in 1508, Pope Julius II decided to commission a ceiling to revamp. Asking the famous Michelangelo to create this now world-famous artwork. Featuring 300 figures, with each section telling a different tale on the importance of God. The ache in your neck will be well worth it as you wander through this giant chapel, squinting to see the astonishing detail in the ceiling artwork!
Being the world’s largest Catholic church, this architectural marvel is well worth the visit. Built-in the mid-15th century, this building was commissioned, but it didn’t finish its completion until 120 years later. Naturally, this meant that the design of the building was done by multiple people, with the minds of Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini all brought this sensational building to life. After admiring the astonishing architecture from the outside, head indoors to see the incredible artwork within. So large it is capable of housing 20,000 people, you’ll have plenty of room to move around the echoing Chapel, seeing the incredible artwork within. Containing intricately mosaicked walls, stunning fresco paintings, and beautifully designed furniture, St. Peter’s Basilica is regarded as the greatest building of its age.
The Best Rooms to See
Raphael is known as one of the top Italian masters within the Renaissance period, renowned for his stunning artworks done throughout his life. However, probably his most famous artwork is a range of frescos within the Raphael rooms. Created by Raphael along with his pupils in the years 1508 to 1524. Named the Constantine, Heliodorus, Segnatura, Fire in the Borgo rooms, each section show incredible detail and colour, with the rooms being done in certain times in Raphael’s life. They are one of the most-visited parts of the Vatican, due to their immense beauty and fascinating history, once being the home to the Pope.
At the very end of the Pio-Clementino Museum is a complete unique exit way. Featuring the revolutionary architectural known as Bramante’s Staircase. There are in fact two Bramante Staircases within the Vatican, with this one the newer staircase, as the original is not open for visitors. The original piece was designed in the early 16th century, made to carry horse and carriages up and down the building. The reason for its significance was due to the shape of the staircase, which was in the double helix shape. This was unknown at the time, due to DNA not being discovered until much later in history. This is the shape we most commonly relate to a strand of DNA today. Naturally, this was not where the architect drew inspiration from as DNA was only discovered and observed centuries later. The reason for this design was not for beauty, but convenience, as it allowed traffic to travel upon one path and down on the other! The new Bramante Staircase is held indoors in the museum and only allows people to walk up and down the ramp. The design of the stairs is truly a stunning sight, and we suggest looking down from the top, to see the bird’s eye view of the spiralling stairs!
Laocoön and His Sons
This stunning marble statue is sure to take anyone’s breath away. A structure that depicts three figures, the Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus, all being attacked by sea serpents. Due to the massive size of the sculpture, the figures are almost lifelike, seemly more like humans turned to stone then carved out by the artist. Even though it is stone, the artist has depicted the tension in their attempts at free themselves from the snakes. The story of Laocoon is from both the Greek and Roman mythology, with this particular piece said to be a copy from a bronze original.
Giotto’s Stefaneschi Triptych
Created by the medieval painter Giotto di Bondone between 1320 and 1330, this is truly a stunning sight to see in person. The Stefaneschi Altarpiece is a triptych, also known as a panel painting, which depicts three large sections places together. This particular piece served as an altarpiece in the Old St. Peter’s Basilica within Rome, commissioned by Cardinal Jacopo Caetani Stefaneschi for this very purpose. It is one of the very first realistic portraits in the history of painting. Head to the Pinacoteca art gallery to see this artwork up close and personal, being amazed by the stunning detail and bright colours!
Related article: The Most Important Artworks in the Vatican
Explore Our Vatican Tours!
Rome Day Tour with Vatican & Colosseum
Spend the day exploring the highlights of Rome with local guide including Skip the Line tickets.
Morning Vatican & Sistine Chapel Tour
Wander the Vatican Museums & St Peters Basilica with local guide and Skip the Line Tickets.
Extended Vatican Museums & Gardens Tour
Enjoy exclusive access to Bramante’s staircase & the Vatican Gardens on this in-depth tour.
Vatican & Sistine Chapel Night Tour
Discover the Vatican’s impressive art collection without the crowds on our evening tour.