Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Roman Holiday: The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Bonjour mes amis!
The Roman holiday continues!  Thank goodness we reserved our tickets online before because the line to get into the Vatican Museums was insane.  It wrapped around the block.  I wouldn't be surprised if people waited for 3 hours just to get in.  I felt super important as we zipped right through the "reservation" line and went inside....and fair warning, I took 214 pictures in the museums and at St. Peter's Basilica so I will try to pick the best of the best for my posts.  Some of the pictures also have random tourists in them because there were so many people visiting the Vatican.  It was hard to stand and appreciate the all masterpieces because you got swept away by the crowd moving on to the next thing.  However sometimes that worked in our favor so we could eavesdrop on the tour guides explaining everything...I overheard one guide say if you stood for one minute in front of each work of art, you would need to spend 4 months in the museum!!

 Musei Vaticani

The Vatican has a lot of Ancient Greek and Roman artwork
That deer is going down...
I love the peacock motif on the ceiling

 The Belvedere Torso
It is believed to be the Greek hero Ajax contemplating suicide.

 The mosaic tile floor was moved from someplace else in Rome, each tile was catalogued so it could be replaced properly.

Juno, Queen of the Roman Gods
and some tourist in my way...

oh wait, that's just the floor.

 Mummies in the Vatican!

Greek Theater Mask
 More stunning statues

 You can see how ornate the Vatican is, and how many tour groups there were...

Love the fleur de lys!

 I think these are babies killing a duck...not sure what's going on...

 Tapestry of the Resurrection of Christ

The Map Room
my personal favorite!



Statues and Papal Seals

 Painting of the head of John the Baptist?

 Documents of the immaculate conception. 
Now I do not know much about Catholic dogma, but I think there was some debate back in the day if the Virgin Mary had Original Sin, or something like that...so those documents in that elaborate desk explore that topic.

 I think this represents Christianity destroying the Pagan religions....symbolism?

Keys and Fleur de Lys!!

 Frescoes by Raphael

 Charlemagne being crowned Holy Roman Emperor

Allegories by Raphael

 Modern Paintings are hosed in the museums too!  It was a refreshing change of pace.

La Vierge et l'Enfant by Henri Matisse

The guards and signs said no photos, but literally EVERYONE was taking pictures anyway.  If you can't beat them join them!

 The Last Judgement by Michelangelo

 The pictures don't do it justice.  The frescoes by Michelangelo, Botticelli and others are so vivid and vibrant, they seem to leap off the walls.  The frescoes portray the life of Jesus, Moses, and other biblical stories.  There are also a few popes on the walls.  The Sistine Chapel was everything I hoped it would be.  I could have spent ages staring at all the paintings....
The Creation of Adam

 Life of Jesus Fresco

 The Conclave to elect a new Pope is held in the Sistine Chapel

Sun streaming into the Sistine Chapel, and the tourists standing in awe...
I found this quote on wikipedia:
"Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving."
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 23 August 1787
And on the way out of the chapel:

 Vatican Gardens

Porcelain kneeler

After our visit to the museum, we grabbed some pizza in the cafeteria and then went through the Holy Roman Gift Shop (yay capitalism) on our way to St. Peter's Square.  We also stopped for a quick gelato break, bien sur.  I cannot recommend the Vatican Museums enough, I would love to go back and have a tour guide answer all my history, art, and art history questions.  And the Sistine Chapel you have to see to believe.  It really is a masterpiece.


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