The Sistine Chapel, part of Rome’s Vatican Museums, was decorated by art masters Sandro Botticelli and Pinturicchio in the 15th century before being completed with Michelangelo’s stunning 16th-century ceilings frescoes and monumental “The Last Judgement,” which covers the apse wall. The fresco-covered ceiling is the artist’s greatest work and one of the most important masterpieces in history, while the Sistine Chapel serves as a glorious homage to Renaissance art and one of the most visited sights in all of Italy.
A Vatican Museums ticket includes access to the Sistine Chapel, and as part of the Vatican Museums, the chapel cannot be visited on its own and can only be entered through the museum complex. Because the Sistine Chapel attracts millions of visitors each year, those who don’t reserve skip-the-line access in advance will find long lines upon arrival. Many travelers find that the complex frescoes are best appreciated with the assistance of an official tour guide, so booking a group tour, an expert guide for a private tour, or even a self-guided audio tour is recommended.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Seeing Michelangelo's frescoes can be unforgettable even for kids if seen as part of a small-group or kid-friendly Sistine Chapel and Vatican tour.
- Because the chapel is a Catholic church, appropriate attire and decorum are required. Wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees and to keep your voice low.
- Though photography (without flash) is permitted in the Vatican Museums, no photography is allowed in the Sistine Chapel.
How to Get to the Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums complex adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. The Ottaviano station on Line A of the city’s underground metro system is about a five-minute walk away.
When to Get There
The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are famously crowded, especially during the middle of the day. To skip the line and savor the chapel frescoes in relative peace, reserve an exclusive first-entry or early-access tour in the morning or a night tour after the general public has left. The chapel is often quieter on Wednesday mornings, when the papal address attracts most visitors to St. Peter’s Square instead of the museums.
Sistine Chapel Highlights
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the majesty of Michelangelo’s sumptuous ceiling frescoes, which cover 5,000 square feet (460 square meters) and depict more than 300 figures illustrating the “Creation of the Earth,” the “Creation of Humankind,” and the “State of Humanity.” Take a few moments to focus on and appreciate the iconic scene of the “Creation of Adam” in the ceiling’s central section, one of the most famous and replicated religious paintings of all time.