When the Vatican Museums open only for you

The Statues Courtyard

The Statues Courtyard

What happens when you get the chance to visit the Vatican Museums without the usual, never-ending crowd? You can easily get used to it. And spoiled, very spoiled.

With an average of some 20,000 visitors per day, these holy galleries and their legendary Sistine Chapel are no doubt among the most popular not-to-miss experiences for whoever travels to Rome, but as well as a must, it can also be draining. I’ve been to the Vatican Museums three times, and the first two I got swept by a crowd of thousands of tourists. Of course I liked it and stared in awe at the immortal masterpieces all the way, but one of my strongest memories was that no minute would go by without me stepping over someone or the other way round.

We started the visit with The Roman Guy tour company at 6pm, and already at that time, when we entered the museums, the crowd had left, allowing us to admire peacefully and in silence the huge collection of treasures on the path leading to the Sistine Chapel.

The Laocoon sculpture

The Laocoon sculpture

We went past sculptures of the likes of the Laocoon, found in 1506 in the Esquilino Hill and now kept in the Statues Courtyard (Cortile delle Statue) after Pope Julius II bought it. Identified as one of the masterpieces of the sculptors of Rhodes as described by Pliny the Elder, this beautiful statue represents the death of Apollo’s priest, Laocoon, who tried to warn the Trojans from taking in the wooden horse left by the Greeks, before being stopped (rather tragically, being killed) by the gods Athena and Poseidon who, instead, were favoring the Greeks, halt that caused the fall of Troy, the fleeing of Aeneas and the following founding of Rome.

Among the other rooms, on the way, we stopped at the Gallery of the Maps, one of my favorite, the Raphael Rooms, just to appreciate his talent along with the rivalry with Michelangelo, the Gallery of the Candelabra, a feast of marble artwork, and finally the room we had all been waiting for, where the tour ended, the Sistine Chapel, where in a moment of silence and intimacy we almost had the impression to see Michelangelo at work.

Below some of the shots I manage to take. Enjoy the tour!

Entering the Museums

Entering the Museums

That's right, it's so quiet that you can even see the floor, and it's worth it!

That’s right, it’s so quiet that you can even see the floor, and it’s worth it!

Painting representing the triumph of Christianity over Paganism

Painting representing the triumph of Christianity over Paganism

I bet you guess what's behind the grid!

I bet you guess what’s behind the grid!

Detail of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

Detail of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo

The main fresco of the Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgement, again by Michelangelo

The main fresco of the Sistine Chapel on the altar wall, The Last Judgement, again by Michelangelo

Our tour leader of the day, Brandon.

Our tour leader for the day, Brandon.

I was a guest of The Roman Guy, but this is a tour they always offer, and should you wish to have this same experience, do contact them via email (info@theromanguy.com) or give them a call (+39 342 876 1859)!

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