Why you should visit the Cappella Paolina

While it may not be on every tourist itinerary, the Cappella Paolina is must-see destination while visiting Vatican City. A stunning chapel within the Apostolic Palace, it is separated from the Sistine Chapel by the Sala Regia. Literally filling the gap between the Basilica and the palace, being situated behind the portico of St. Peter’s Basilica.

History

It was created in 1538 commissioned by the Pope Paul II. It contains stunning paintings and statues, including two frescos ‘The Crucifixion of St Peter’ and ‘The Conversion of Saul’ painted by Michelangelo himself. The Crucifixion of St Peter is famous for the self-portrait of Michelangelo hidden within the painted crowd. It was once the main residence of the popes until 1870 when they were moved.

What to see there

There are a number of reasons why this chapel is worth visiting. With astonishing history and rich culture, but by far the most appealing attraction is the artwork hidden inside. Michelangelo, one of the most famous artists in the Renaissance period, has two frescoes in the Cappella Paolina. They are ‘The Conversion of Saul’ as well as ‘The Crucifixion of St Peter.’ Both of these artworks were painted from 1542 to 1549, during the time Michelangelo was at the height of his fame. Sadly, the frescos did not live up to the hype and were seen as disappointments. Compared to his stunning pieces at the nearby Sistine Chapel, these frescoes were soon forgotten. Despite their past conflicts, these frescos are well worth the visit. Being restored in the early 2000s, their bright colours and glorious detail are better seen in person, with photos not doing them justice.

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