What To Discover at The Sistine Chapel

Undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous buildings, the Sistine Chapel is a testament to the immense skill of History’s greatest artists. Located in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City, the Chapel draws in thousands upon thousands of people each year. With the building having originally been named Cappella Magna, it was later renamed to The Sistine Chapel after Pope Sixtus IV.

Sistine Chapel

History of Sistine Chapel

The chapel’s basic foundation was once the ancient Capella Magna. The renewal of this ancient building was commissioned in the 1470s by the Pope Sixtus IV. This is how the name Sistine, came to be, as they named it after the previous Pope. Numerous artists, including Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio, and Cosimo Roselli did the Chapel’s first paintings. Back during this time, the ceiling was not as we know it today, but a simple painting of the blue sky sprinkled with stars. Pope Julius II commissioned the extra embellishment in 1508. Commanding the famous artist, Michelangelo, to redo the ceiling in detail. This led to one of the most magnificent pieces of art in the world. The project lasted until 1512, and caused such a strain on Michelangelo, that it permanently damaged his eyesight.

The Papal Conclave

The most significant ceremony that takes place within these iconic walls is the Papal Conclave, which is the process that takes place to select a new Pope. Though this is an important event for the entire Christian faith, the chapel’s artworks are what have made it such a famous attraction. While the murals on the walls display a level of artwork that only the greatest masters could create, the true highlight of the Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo’s incredible frescoes on the ceiling. Some of his more notable pieces being The Creation of Adam and the Last Judgment.

Michelangelo’s Frescoes

Though it may be the most iconic piece in the chapel, Michelangelo’s fresco happened to be the final addition to the exquisitely painted interior. Pope Sixtus IV oversaw Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Roselli, the skilled renaissance painters as they worked on the walls up until 1508. Michelangelo did begin work on the ceiling in 1508 under Pope Julius II, but it wasn’t until 1535 that Michelangelo began work on The Last Judgment. When it was first unveiled, there was an outcry due to a large number of nude figures shown in a holy chapel. Each section of the ceiling is covered, with different sections representing a part of the overall story. It’s not just that this piece is an astonishing achievement, having taken him 6 years to complete, it was so significant-a-fresco that it actually played a major role in inspiring and motivating a number of history’s great artists to create their very best pieces.

The Architecture of Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel also stands as one of the Vatican City’s 54 Museums and Galleries. While the artwork on the inside is undoubtedly what makes this building so famous, there is much to be said for the architectural design as well. With Giovanni of Dolci was the Architect assigned to created the three separate stories, and six-foot-high arched windows on each side of the building. The curious thing about this architect is that this masterpiece of a structure is the only work that he is remembered for.

The Sistine Chapel is one of the world’s most exceptional attractions and, regardless of faith, witnessing these artworks in person is an experience like no other. A trip to Rome’s Vatican City would not be complete without stepping into this mesmerizing hall.

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