Rome: The Vatican Museum

The Vatican was one of the best bits of our trip to Rome. The Vatican is a must visit destination in Rome. The art, architecture, sculpture and space is so interesting and captivating. It's also worth mentioning that you don't need to be religious to visit the Vatican city. Whilst there are many pilgrims, religious trips and many worshipers within the space, it's not an exclusive attraction.

As it is such a popular destination I'd advise you pre book online before your trip because the queues for tickets and to get into the Vatican museum are huge! You can pre-book tickets to the vatican here.
With your ticket you get access to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel (No pictures are allowed within the Chapel, but totally worth a visit.) You can get a special discount on your ticket if you're a student (so long as you have ID) or under the age of 18. 

I'd advise getting to the Museum earlier than your allocated time slot to go through their airport style security. You can not take food or excess liquids into the Vatican Museum. 

There is so much to see that we spent most of the day there and wished we had more time, to get the most of the experience and to soak up the incredible histories, art and sculpture; don't rush!  They've got plenty of cafes and restaurants, not to mention the gardens, to take a rest and a bite to eat. 


Guided tours and tour packages are available by third parties. In terms of self guide vs guided tours, it depends on what sort of pace you want to go at. Within a party you're unlikely to see all of the galleries and exhibition spaces due to time constraints and many of the guided tours we encountered were rather rushed. You can get the tour information in the form of an audio guide or book for a small fee within the Vatican Museum if you'd like a tour without the guide. 

The galleries are extensive, described in most guide books as having 'One of the world's richest collections...' and they're not wrong. With over 7km of gallery space, there is a mix of classic paintings, carvings, and mixed media pieces, Renaissance masterpieces and modern religious art, from eras such as: the Medieval period, Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.

There are many sculpture galleries throughout the Vatican's spaces, with carvings and sculptures in different media (brass, copper, stone.) as additions within the art galleries too. The subjects of the sculptures are: key influencers, religious figures or fighters from the sculptures time period.

More modern pieces of art, such as the 'Sphere Within Sphere' by Arnaldo Pomodoro can be seen both in and outside of the museum. Whilst we were there a lady jumped the rope surrounding the Sphere to give it a push, wouldn't advise it, as it is prohibited! Look but don't touch. That's advisable for the rest of the art too.

The views from the Vatican Museum are worth a note too. You wouldn't visit the Vatican for the views but they're a lovely addition. You can get wonderful views of the Vatican City and Roman architecture from the windows of the galleries and small Chapel spaces dotted throughout the Vatican.

Courtyards break up the gallery spaces and act as a resting point with gardens, fountains and benches to pray, rest and reflect.

A top tip for visiting is to look up! the ceilings are highly decorated and are art with architectural purpose. I spent so much time looking up I ended up with the neck ache! By observing the ceilings you're able to fully appreciate the craftsmanship put in to produce such grande pieces and the significance and importance of the Vatican within the Church.

The colours throughout the Vatican Museum are in-keeping with the aesthetic of the city, histories and art style.

Another piece of art with architectural purpose is the sprawling Bramate staircase which takes you from the top to the bottom (exit) of the museum.

The Vatican Museum is a fantastic place to learn, absorb and discover all manner of art, scripture and ruins. Truly fantastic.

Top tips

Book online in advance.
Take the whole day to go around.
Avoid key group times of 2pm and 3pm.
Wear appropriate clothing for the Sistine Chapel and abide by the no talking, no photography rule.

Tomorrow and Wednesday I will be writing about the Art and the Sculpture of the Vatican Museum.

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