Vatican Museums, what to see and entrance prices

Vatican Museums on your own

Vatican Museums is a huge complex of several floors, which includes 30 museums. I will tell you what this architectural structure is, how to get there, where to buy tickets, where to go, and what you can skip.

Vatican Museums

View of the Vatican Museums from the dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral.

Vatican Museums: FAQ

Briefly, in question-and-answer format, what I had before my first visit, as well as what is commonly asked on various forums.

  • Do the Vatican Museums mean different buildings? No. It is a single complex of several floors. A separate museum means part of a room, a room.
  • Is there a single entrance? Yes, a single entrance.
  • How long does it take to see everything? Three hours is enough for the first time.
  • Can I bring my kids? And with strollers? I don’t recommend it in high season. Imagine the subway at rush hour, where you do not stand, but walk in the flow. It’s definitely not for kids, and you can’t pass with a stroller. In November, February, when the low season may be. But it is better to find other entertainment.
  • Do you have to buy a separate ticket to each museum? No, it’s a single ticket.
  • And to the Sistine Chapel? The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums, you don’t need a separate ticket there. If you see tickets to the Vatican Museums + Sistine Chapel in the ads, it’s just a marketing trick of ticket speculators.
  • What are Raphael’s stanzas? Is that where you have to buy a ticket? It’s also part of the museum complex, included in a single ticket. The stanzas are 3 rooms painted by the great master.
  • Is it worth going to the Vatican Gardens? It’s up to the individual, some people like it. I’m not interested in looking at evenly trimmed bushes – boredom and a waste of time. You have to buy a separate ticket to the gardens and you can only walk in a group, accompanied by a special person.
  • Is there a dress code? According to the rules, you can’t wear shorts. But in the summer of course everyone goes. In decent shorts, of course, up to the knee, not in a thong.
  • Can I take pictures? Yes, without a tripod and flash, of course. You can’t take pictures just in the Sistine Chapel.
  • Do you have an audio guide? Yes, for €7 euros. In my opinion, it’s not worth it. Half of it will not be translated into Russian, some of the descriptions are missing. Take one for two. Or better add and take a normal guide.
  • Are there free days? There are, but it’s hell and Israel! There are terrible lines, and these days there are crowds of people everywhere. But if you want to lose a whole day, then write down: every last Sunday of the month (except Easter) from 9:00 to 14:00, June 29 (St. Peter and Paul), December 25 (Christmas) and December 26 (St. Stephen’s Day).
  • An all-day ticket? Can I go out, have lunch and come back in again? No, the ticket to the Vatican Museums is a one-time ticket.
  • Is there a cafe on the grounds? Yes. Prices: espresso €1,2, water bottle €1,3, panini €4,2.
  • Are you allowed to bring food and water? You must! Be sure to bring a bottle of water. You’ll be thirsty for sure, especially in the summer, it’s stuffy in the halls. And in the courtyard, inside the complex, you can relax on a bench and have a snack.
Cluny Museum in Paris, exhibitions and photos

Vatican Museums

Tickets to the Vatican Museums

Sold online and at the museum’s box office. I strongly advise to buy online, for a specific time. There is always a line for hours at the Vatican Museums, except for a few months in the fall and winter. Standing outside under the scorching sun for 3 hours in +40 is no fun.

Compare – the line in July and in November. And that’s just on the way, and there’s still a kilometer around the corner.

Vatican Museums queues Vatican Museums queues

Where you can’t buy tickets to the Vatican

On Google, on the sites of the tour intermediaries and in the queue.

Google, and I think soon Yandex will join it, brazenly slips you tickets with a commission. See what happens when you Google “Vatican Museums” – there is a big “buy tickets” button. It’s only €21. On the official site they are €17.

Tickets for Vatican Museums Tickets for Vatican Museums

If you follow the links in the search engine, the first 100 positions are agency sites, which will also sell with their commission. There’s a 50/50 chance they’ll sell a real ticket. Buy from intermediaries is worth only one case – if the official website does not have tickets for the desired date.

By the way, for those who prefer to stand in line – you 100% will be approached by a type of “tour guides” and offer a ticket without waiting in line with the tour, it will be expensive and bad!

Vatican Museums

How to buy a ticket to the Vatican Museums online

Buy only on the official website All others are fake sites or speculators.

The Vatican Museums are open: Monday-Saturday: 9:00-18:00 (the last entrance is at 16:00). Tickets can be bought 60 days before the date of visit.

It’s very simple.

1. Choose the number of tickets, the date, what we want to see, “who” is optional, so the museum knows who is coming to visit them, select “singles” or nothing. What we want to see is Vatican Museum. If you want more gardens, you have to get a ticket there separately. But think again, do you need them?

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

Monday to Thursday: 08:30 to 18:30 (last admission at 16:30), Friday and Saturday: 08:30 to 20:00 (admission until 18:00).From November to June: Monday to Saturday from 08:30 to 18:30 (last admission at 16:30).

Vatican Museums is a museum complex with masterpieces of great masters of the past, works of ancient times, ancient manuscripts, religious and secular collections. Here is one of the largest collections of works of art, which were collected over the centuries by Roman pontiffs. The museums are the fifth most visited museums in the world and the first in Italy. The exhibits are kept framed by stunning palatial interiors, which are considered a valuable attraction in their own right.

Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

The history of the Vatican Museums began in 1506, after the discovery of the marble sculpture “Laocoon and His Sons” in the vineyards of Esquilino Hill, which is a copy of the 1st century B.C. bronze statue of the 2nd century B.C. that has not survived to this day. Pope Julius II, on the advice of Michelangelo Buonarroti and Giuliano da Sangalo, who confirmed the authenticity of the sculpture, bought the “Laocoon” from the site owner, Felice de Fredis, and a month later installed the masterpiece for public display in one of the niches of the Belvedere. It was this episode that began the founding of the Vatican Museums. They were opened to a wide circle of art lovers in 1771.

Laocoon and Sons

One of the clauses in the Lateran Accords of 1929, which recognized the sovereignty of the Vatican by Italy, stated that the Holy See was obliged to give tourists and scholars unfettered access to the museums and the library.

The obligation was broken in 1938 by Pope Pius XI. To avoid meeting Adolf Hitler, invited to Rome by Benito Mussolini as the guest of Italian King Victor Emmanuel III, the pontiff went to his summer residence, Castel Gandolfo. In doing so, he ordered the temporary closure of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Cathedral so that the Nazi leader could not set foot in the Holy See.

Structure of the Vatican Museums

The complex is located in the interconnected Vatican Palaces – Apostolic, Belvedere, Innocent VIII, Nicholas V. For clarity, the layout of the museums is divided into three levels. There are currently 54 galleries.

The lower level is occupied by:

  • Gregorian Egyptian Museum – divided into 9 rooms, founded in 1839 by Gregory XVI;
  • Chiaramonti Museum – gallery of ancient sculpture of 60 sections (founded by Pius VII in 1805-07) with a branch of Braccio Nuovo (1817-22) and the Lapidary Gallery with one of the largest collections of stone tablets with Christian and pagan inscriptions in the world (founded by Benedict IV);

Chiaramonti Museum

    – is divided into 8 rooms and a patio, founded by Popes Clement XIV and his successor Pius VI;
  • The Borgia apartments, Alexander VI’s personal chambers of 5 rooms, a bedroom and a treasury; today it is the home of the Collection of Modern Art; – was built as a house church for Pope Sixtus IV in 1473-81;
  • Christian Museum (Museo Sacro) – founded by Benedict XIV in 1755;
  • Vatican Library – includes several halls, galleries of Urban VIII and Clementine, museums of sacred and secular art, chapel of Pius V, has the richest collection of manuscripts, which began in the IV century;
  • Gregorian Museum of Secular Art – divided into 4 sections, combining works of antiquity, Roman replicas of Greek statues, sarcophagi, ancient Roman sculpture, founded by Gregory XVI in 1844;
  • the Pio Cristiano Art Museum – displays works of early Christian art found in excavations or transferred from Roman churches, founded by Pius IX in 1854; – a unique collection of artistic paintings by famous masters, founded by Pius VI in the 18th century.
Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp

Pinacoteca Room

On the upper level are:

  • Gregorian Etruscan Museum – has 18 rooms, founded in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI;
  • the galleries of the Candelabra (1761), the Tapestry (made in 1531), the Geographic Maps (1578-80);
  • the Immacolata Room, frescoes with allegorical scenes depicting the virtues of the Virgin Mary, by the Ancona master Francis Podesti, executed in 1856-65 on behalf of Pius IX; – four rooms painted by Raphael and his pupils in 1508-17.

Raphael Stans

In the basement rooms are:

  • a museum of philately and numismatics;
  • ethnological museum;
  • a carriage pavilion – one of the departments of the Historical Museum.

One of the Papamobiles

In addition, in the museum palaces there are chapels, the Chiaroscuri Hall, where the Pope changes his clothes for the liturgical ceremonies, the Loggia of Raphael, the Chariot Hall with a marble Roman chariot of the 1st century B.C., the Loggia of Cardinal Bibienne, etc. The architectural complex of the Vatican Museums includes several courtyards, including the Court of Pinias. Its famous sights are the mirrored globe “Sphere in a Sphere” by the Italian sculptor Arnoldo Pomodoro and the bronze Pine cone on a bas-relief pedestal, which symbolizes immortality and the connection between the divine and the secular. It dates from the first and second centuries, and was moved to the courtyard from the Field of Mars in 1608.

There are objects in the Vatican Museums that are hidden to the general public. These include the Bramante Staircase (1505), the Niccolina Chapel, the private chapel of Pope Nicholas V, and the Cabinet of the Masks. Visitors must make an appointment in advance, for a large fee and with a guide.

Facilities for visitors

Vatican museums are accessible to people with disabilities. The museums offer free wheelchair rentals, subject to proof of identity (a deposit is required). The staircases are equipped with special elevators, and there are elevators between floors. In addition, there are restrooms and catering facilities along the routes. Children are allowed to be transported in compact strollers. Some toilets are equipped with feeding and changing rooms for babies.

Animal Hall at the Museo Pio Clementino

In the Vatican Museums there are souvenir and bookstores, rest areas with benches, first aid stations, several cafes, one of the four branches of the Vatican Post, where they sell postcards, stamps and other attributes of the Papal State. From here you can send a message to your family with the Vatican postmark.

Routes through the halls and galleries are designed with one-way traffic in mind, so you only have to walk forward to the exit. However, in the middle of the long way you can get off the route. Behind the Sistine Chapel is the descent to St. Peter’s Cathedral. To locate it, just ask a staff member for help or wait for the tour group.

Vatican Museums Online

The official website of the Vatican Museums offers a virtual tour of several exhibit halls, including the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Stans, the Niccolina Chapel, the Pio Clementino Museums, Chiaramonti, and more.

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Vatican Museums

Exhibits of Vatican Museums

The museum collections include Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman sculptures, busts and sarcophagi; Greek, Roman, Christian and Jewish lapidaries (ancient inscriptions carved in stone); Etruscan articles of everyday life, found in necropolises; early Christian works of art, works of Flemish and Byzantine painters, etc. The Middle Ages and Renaissance are represented by unique icons, masterpieces by Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, Guido Reni, Carracci, Veronese, Caravaggio, Lippi, Giotto, etc.

The sculptures include works by Canova, Antonio Franzoni, portrait statues of emperors, marble figures of animals, etc. The chapels, galleries and halls are decorated with admirable frescoes by Michelangelo, Raphael, Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio and a number of other masters. There is a great variety of mosaic art and stained-glass works.

Mosaic in the Hall of the Greek Cross

Vatican library keeps a huge collection of ancient manuscripts, engravings, old printed books, drawings, reproductions and artifacts. There are also collections of coins and medals. Exhibits in the Vatican Museums include tapestries, candelabra, secular and religious objects, and personal belongings of popes and cardinals. The collection of modern religious art includes works by Matisse, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Van Gogh and Giorgio de Chirico, among others.

The Garage Pavilion exhibit is filled with carriages, papamobiles, the first papal steam locomotive, and other vehicles. The Museum of Philately and Numismatics has a huge collection of coins, stamps and postcards related to the Vatican. Unique is the collection of 40 geographic maps that adorn the walls of the eponymous gallery. There are close-ups of important Italian territories during the pontificate of Gregory XIII.

Geographic Map Gallery ceiling

All the exhibits and collections of the Vatican Museums is difficult to describe. You have to come here to see everything with your own eyes. You should allow at least 3-4 hours for viewing. And even better – plan a visit every time you come to Rome. There are enough masterpieces exhibited here for several visits.

Tickets for the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel

Full ticket price is 17 euros.

Discounts are available for children 6-18 years old, pilgrims, clergymen and students up to 25 years old – 8 euros.

In addition to regular admission tickets, the Vatican Museums offer unusual visits – with early entry (07:00 – 07:15 am) and breakfast or lunch, in the evening from 19:00 to 23:00, by “hidden places”, after-hours, etc. All options can be viewed here.

For visitors it is available to rent an audio guide, including in Russian, for 8 euros (7 euros – if you book online).

Rotunda Hall

Vatican Museums for free

See the masterpieces of world value can be seen for free on the last Sunday of each month. Keep in mind, however, that a small part of the museums may be closed. To get inside in time for the opening, it is recommended to arrive early, otherwise you’ll have to stand a long line.

Free admission to the Vatican Museums is guaranteed on a permanent basis (with ID):

  • children under 6 years of age;
  • Persons with disabilities (over 74%) and one companion.
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Vatican Museum Tours

Licensed guides can help you learn more about the treasures of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. As a rule, they offer an additional visit to St. Peter’s Cathedral. In addition, there is a possibility of self-guided tours with audio guides, bypassing the long lines.

Mode of operation of the Vatican Museums

Visits are possible from Monday to Saturday from 08:30 to 18:30 and on Fridays and Saturdays until 20:00. The last entrance is at 16:30 and 18:00, respectively.

On religious holidays and special days, the Vatican Museums are closed. View the calendar for the year 2022 here.

Pinion in the courtyard of the Pinias

Where are the Vatican Museums in Rome

The Vatican Museums complex is located within the borders of the dwarf state of Vatican City, but entry is from the Viale Vaticano, which is in Italian territory. For the Jubilee Year 2000, a new portal was built in the Vatican wall, through which visitors today exit the museums. To its left, almost perpendicular to it, is the old portal, opened in 1932 and serving as a tourist entrance. It was then that Giuseppe Momo built the famous spiral staircase that has become the hallmark of the Vatican Museums.

Mom's Spiral Staircase

Exhibitions and events

In addition to permanent exhibitions, the Vatican museums traditionally have temporary exhibitions and events.

Terms of admission

Entrance to the Vatican Museums is allowed in clothing appropriate to a religious site. Visitors in shorts, miniskirts, T-shirts and provocative outfits will be asked to cover their shoulders, knees and indecently exposed body parts. It is not necessary to change clothes for this, you can just cover up with a large-sized headscarf.

In a free checkroom will have to leave large bags and backpacks, suitcases, umbrellas, sticks, sharp objects, tripods for cameras and video cameras, alcoholic beverages. It is strictly forbidden to bring weapons and dangerous materials into the museums.

Vatican Museums

Every visitor is required to pass through an arch metal detector. Animals, except certified guide dogs, are not allowed in the Vatican Museums.

It is forbidden to touch works of art, to use professional equipment (only with special permission), to use laser pointers, selfie sticks and tripods, to smoke, as well as to take photos, shoot videos and break the silence in the Sistine Chapel. Cell phones should be put on silent mode.

Entrance portals to the Vatican Museums: panorama on google.maps

How to get to the Vatican Museums

Practically opposite the entrance to the museum complex is the bus stop “v. le Vaticano/Musei Vaticani” of bus number 49. However, the best choice of transport will be the metro. The stations of Line A – “Cipro” and “Ottaviano” are within walking distance.

Near the Vatican there are several stops of ground transport:

  • “Bastioni Di Michelangelo” – buses number 23 and 492;
  • “Risorgimento” – buses number 982, 590, 49 and 913;
  • “Risorgimento/S. Pietro” – streetcar number 19.

Cabs can be ordered through Uber, itTaxi, AppTaxi, Taxi Tevere Roma, inTaxi, etc. mobile apps.

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