From our research we knew that the Vatican Museums were going to be an epic undertaking. To make sure to see all of the most interesting bits before our feet gave out we planned out a route in advance. We rarely rested, didn’t visit every gallery, and it still took us over four hours of exploring to get through the entire complex! There is a well labelled route that takes visitors one way through a series of galleries, all ending up at the famous Sistine Chapel. I believe we walked about four miles by the end of our visit!
Cortile della Pigna (pine cone)
Chiaramonti Museum, a loooong hall of exquisite sculpture
Perseus and Augustus of Prima Porta in the Braccio Nuovo gallery
Braccio Nuovo gallery and the Laocoön
porphyry bathtub of Emperor Nero (hard to see in this photo but the stone is purple)
gorgeous mosaic floor in the Pio Clementino
the ceiling in the Gallery of Maps outshines the walls!
The School of Athens by Rafael
amazing ceiling and frescoes in the Rafael Rooms
Jesus and his sheep; the spiral staircase
The sheer amount of priceless art and opulence is a bit overwhelming to be honest. And, of course, there are several gifts shops along the way so you don’t even have to wait until the end to buy souvenirs. </sarcastic voice>
We have no pictures to share of the Sistine Chapel as you are not allowed to take pictures in there. Most people were obeying the rules, but the experience of admiring the ceiling was periodically interrupted by loud “SHHHHHH”ing noises from the guards and the occasional “NO PHOTO!”
Overall, I think the Vatican Museums is an experience absolutely worth doing once, just make sure to wear your most comfortable shoes. And the next time we’re in Rome we’ll definitely make it inside St. Peter’s Basilica.