The access-all-areas tour is a wonderful journey through centuries of art, with sneak peaks at locations typically near to the public.
- Skip the long lines to the monuments and sites of the Vatican City,
- Get uncommon access to the 16th-century Bramante Staircase, normally near to the public,
- Admire the Sistine Chapel and appreciate Michelangelo’s renowned ceiling,
- Go inside St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the world’s greatest and most important churches,
- See masterpieces by Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Caravaggio and more in the Vatican Museums.
- Guided trip of the Vatican City in a group of no more than 16 individuals,
- Skip-the-line entrance,
- Tour of the Bramante Staircase and Vatican Gardens (not generally opened to the public),
- Audio guide gadgets to much better hear your guide.
- Hotel pick-up and drop off.
Free cancellation up to 1 day before tour starts.
On returning to Rome after their exile in Avignon, the popes abandoned their Lateran Palace and took up residence near St Peter’s.
Work began in the fifteenth century, under the pontificate of Nicholas V (1447-1455); it was continued by Sixtus IV (1471-1484), who gave his name to the Sistine Chapel, and especially by Julius II during the Renaissance.
It is to this great papal builder that we owe the two most resplendent treasures of the Vatican: the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, and the decoration of the Stanze and Loggia, by Raphael. The pontiffs ceaselessly improved their palaces right up to the end of the nineteenth century; taking their cue from Julius II, they acquired a huge quantity of objets d’art for the Vatican, in what has become a unique collection. Vatican City, the world’s smallest state (roughly 44 hectares or 109 acres) is now home to some ten museums or galleries covering every aspect of human knowledge and achievement.
There are paintings by the Italian Primitives and the best Renaissance artists, but also masterpieces of ancient sculpture, Egyptian and Etruscan art, gold and silver work, tapestry, and Greek pottery, together with ancient maps, and even collections of carriages and candelabra. But all the rest of the Vatican’s inexhaustible wealth is eclipsed by two undisputed masterpieces: the Stanze of Raphael and, even more famous, the Sistine Chapel. On the walls along both sides, the most talented Renaissance artists – Botticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio, and Luca Signorelli – prepared the way for Michelangelo, whose immortal fresco of the Last Judgement put the finishing touches to the chapel twenty years after he had painted the vault. After such a parade of magnificence, a visit to the Vatican gardens comes as something of a relief.
There is more to these gardens, though, than a respite from the crowds. They are quite simply full of poetry and very moving: it is a little-known fact of history that the Vatican gardens were constructed on the site of Nero’s and Caligula’s circus, where countless Christians were massacred.
Strolling amongst the flowerbeds and the clipped shrubbery, the visitor will chance upon a cemetery whose soil was brought back from Jerusalem, and a chapel where Charlemagne stood watch the night before his coronation. But all this is nothing compared to the view of St Peter’s dome; it leaps up at every instant and from every angle, round the corner from every grotto or fountain.