The Vatican Museum and really any museum in Europe, you can either walk through and get the gist of it or you could spend a week analyzing every part of it. It really is up to you on how involved you want to be. All of them are worth the time, but it just depends on how much time and interest you really have. As I always say, read up on the highlights before you go and make sure you see what you really want to see when you are there instead of paying for an expensive tour that includes more than what you would ever want and skimps on the things you are really interested in.
It is important to note the Sistine Chapel is located at the end of the Vatican museum and will take you directly out to St. Peters Basilica’s entry when you are finished (this means no waiting in line and another security check to go into St. Peters.) You may want to keep this in mind if you are planning on visiting both in the same day, this way, you can tour the museum first to avoid the line to the basilica. The Vatican museum is amazing, but lets start with the line. The line, curving around the large Vatican wall seems overwhelming. You again will be heckled by tour guides to “Skip the line,” but risk being ripped off. Again, as I said with the basilica, the line for the Vatican Museum, goes pretty quickly. You can also reserve a time online and avoid the line altogether which I decided not to do because I wasn’t sure what time we would end up going. You can reserve these times up to three months in advance online @ Reserve Vatican Museum Times
The Vatican Museum to me is the best museum I have been to anywhere. I liked it much more than the overwhelming and enormous Louvre in Paris. What was disappointing about the Vatican museum was how they handled the quantity of visitors. We were herded in like livestock. I don’t know if it just was that it was the last hour of the day and everyone wanted to get in last minute, but there was so many people that at many points we were literally rubbing shoulders with one another. This really took away and made it hard to enjoy the experience of being in the same room of these amazing masterpieces.
The very worst part was when we finally got into the Sistine Chapel. Although they only admitted a certain amount of people in at a time, there was still far too many people for it to seem remotely holy- especially with the groups of young school children. The very worst part was once we were let into the giant Sistine Chapel (it was much large than I expected) the Italian ushers would clap their hands every few minutes and yell at the top of their lungs-“SILENCE!”. I was appalled. First of all, the loudest person in the room was this person trying to keep it so quiet, second, I didn’t find that very respectful to the chapel or to the people in it, and third, these ushers were the ones who controlled how many people they let in at a time! It was handled so horribly. We of course got our obligatory sneaky picture of the chapel ceiling with our heads in it the best we could!
The Vatican museum is an absolute must see on any trip to Rome, not just because the Sistine Chapel (that was so hyped up by the time we got to it it was almost a let down.) The Museum as a whole is amazing. We zipped through it pretty fast being the last hour of the day, but it was good enough for me. The first part of the museum features works from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome then leads through the beautiful hall of maps and tapestries to the renaissance Raphael rooms and finally, the Sistine chapel. My favorite part of the museum were the Raphael rooms and the hall of maps. The ceiling in the hall of maps is indescribable. It looked like it’s made of pure gold. Everything during that time was so elaborate and detailed. The Raphael rooms are incredible because they don’t just feature paintings done by Raphael, they are whole rooms that are painted from top to bottom by Raphael, ceilings and all. The famous School of Athens (the original one) covers the wall of one of these rooms.
The Vatican Museum is a gem that is not to missed on a trip to Rome!
The Greek sculpture pictured above is of Laocoön and his sons. This was buried and lost for more than a thousand years. It was finally unearthed in 1506 A. D. near the Colosseum. This is one of my favorite pieces!