Explore the Vatican in a 3-hour, semi-private guided tour which grants access to the Cabinet of Masks, Candelabra Room and the Four Private Apartments, rooms that are not usually open to the public.
If you have ever wanted to peek behind the scenes in the Vatican Museums, this is the tour for you! This 3-hour, semi-private guided tour allows you access to sections of the museums that are normally closed to the public, as well as the exceptional chance of staying inside the Sistine Chapel until 6:15 p.m., after the general public has already left.
The itinerary starts in the Cabinet of Masks, not usually open to the public, where the remarkable Roman Venus of Cnidos is kept. Based on a mid-4th century B.C. marble statue by Praxiteles, it was much admired in antiquity. Then comes the revolutionary, double helix spiral staircase designed by Donato Bramante in 1512 to connect the Belvedere Palace to the city.
You will see more antique statuary in the Candelabra Room and then, after passing though halls hung with priceless tapestries woven in wool, silk and gold threads, you reach the Gallery of Maps. Here Pope Gregory XIII (he introduced the Gregorian calendar that we still use today) displayed his great interest in geography by having the walls of the 394-foot long gallery frescoed with very accurate maps of the Italian regions and papal properties as they were in the 1580's. The large windows offer fantastic views of the Vatican Gardens and of Michelangelo's dome of St. Peter's.
A precious jewel box is the best definition of the private Chapel of Nicholas V. Fra Angelico's Renaissance frescoes have been magnificently restored, and the vivid pink, blue and green pigments look fresh as the day they were painted, over 550 years ago. This beautiful little chapel is usually off-limits to the public, but you will be able to enter it on this tour.
The best is saved for last: the four private apartments starting in 1508 when his rival, Michelangelo, was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel next door; these are the grand fresco sequences that mark the High Renaissance in Rome. After your expert Vatican guide explains the iconography of the papal apartments, the tour will end in the Sistine Chapel where you may remain until 6.15 p.m., after the general public is gone.
The tour includes:
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