Exploring Rome? The Sistine Chapel is a must-visit

Warm up your neck muscles. You won’t be able to take your eyes off Michelangelo’s incredible work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. This huge masterpiece, and one of the world’s greatest artworks, is just one of the chapel’s stunning frescos. You'll also marvel at works by Botticelli amongst the chapel's many breathtaking displays of talent and beauty.

The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored the building between 1477 and 1480 – although it had existed for centuries before as the Cappella Magna. The chapel is the last of the 54 galleries in the Vatican Museums. And it really does save the best for last.

Michelangelo’s masterpieces

Best viewed from the chapel’s main entrance in the far east wall, these ceiling frescoes cover a massive 800 square metres (8,611 square feet), depicting scenes from the Creation.

Other interesting facts about the Sistine Chapel

  • Michelangelo’s ceiling frescos were painted over four years between 1508 -1512. His Giudizio Universale – Last Judgement – was added years later between 1535 - 1541
  • Before Michelangelo started work on the ceiling, it had been painted a blue night sky with golden stars
  • He claimed to a friend that he had ‘grown a goitre’ from the physical strain of the painting process
  • As the scaffolding remained in place until he had finished, Michelangelo was only able to view his complete work once it was removed
  • A gunpowder explosion in 1797 caused a small bit of plaster to fall off in the section depicting Noah’s escape