Even if you are not religious it’s still amazing to visit these, especially since the artwork is awe inspiring to view.
It’s worth getting the skip the line early entry tickets for Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel with optional add-on of a Guided Tour of St Peter’s Basilica. I booked with Real Rome tours witch offer an Early Bird Discounts like 15 %,20%, 25% depending on how early you book so check those out but they sell out fast. tours had very knowledgeable guides, had a flag that the guide held up high so that if you lost the group you could look and find your way to them by looking for the flag, came high spec headsets so you could hear the guide. My earphones were defective and they replaced them without any issues.
Some things to know before you go:
- You will have to go thru a metal detector and your bags will be checked. No large bags or backpacks are allowed so you will need to check them.
- You will need to cover your shoulders and your knees to enter including Saint Peters Basilica and the dome.
- Don’t bring tripods as they are not allowed.
- I would suggest bringing some bottled water and something light to eat like a snack bar.
- You won’t be allowed to take pictures or videos in the Sistine chapel and they ask you to keep quiet. If you do talk you will be told to be quiet which a few people were told to be.
- The dome has narrow steps with 500 to climb. You can take an elevator to the top if you wish to but it can get packed depending on the time of day. There is a separate fee for climbing the dome. The entrance is just inside Saint Peter’s Basilica so make sure you don’t miss it.
Now on to some interesting things about each.
In the 1980s a controversial restoration to the Sistine Chapel frescoes took place where some art historians thought conservation methods should be used instead of restoration methods. There was previous restorations before this one which had interesting methods for restoration. One restoration included wiping the ceiling with linen cloths and the then rubbing it with bread. Another restoration included using sponges dipped in Greek wine, repainting some areas areas where the colours were lost due to efflorescence of salts, and applying a great deal of glue varnish. Below you can see lines of black which to satisfy some of the critics these areas where not restored and left as is. Dangers to these works of art include automative dust, humidity, dust, heat, and bacteria brought by the number of tourists that walk thru each day. To help prevent this air conditioning was put in to control heat and humidity.
This is one of my favorite tapestries below. In the Gallery of Tapestries as you walk by the eyes seem to follow you.
If you have the time it worth going up to St. Peter’s Basilica’s dome. To get to the entrance don’t exit Saint Peter’s Basilica it’s on the left side right before the exit. It’s about 550 steps to the top. There is 2 parts. The first level you come out and are able to look down from Inside St. Peter’s Basilica. This part you can take an elevator to. See picture below.