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This is a five hour tour of the Vatican including skip-the-line tickets and visits to the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and many hidden gems like the Pinacoteca, the Papal Tombs and the rarely visited Carriage Pavilion. For the most in-depth and wide-ranging tour of the Vatican possible, this is the one for you. If you have an interest in the history and art of the Vatican, this five hour itinerary in the company of an expert and passionate guide will help you uncover the most fascinating facts and stories about the Vatican City State, the popes and the collections housed here.
The five hour tour includes Michelengelo’s Sistine Chapel, skip-the-line early access to the Vatican Museums, skip-the-line entrance to St Peter’s Basilica, and a professional and experienced English speaking guide.
Start the tour by starting early and visiting Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, before it is open to the general public. As the Sistine Chapel is a place of worship and speaking inside is not permitted, your guide will explain the Chapel in advance and you will be given a plan/handout for reference once you are in.
The Pinacoteca or Vatican Art Gallery is home to some of the most important paintings in the Vatican. Often not included in Vatican tours, the Pinacoteca boasts works by Leonardo, Raphael, Titian and Caravaggio among others.
The itinerary includes the Carriage Pavilion, also often overlooked on Vatican tours, which houses a fine collection of vehicles that have been used by various popes, including three ‘Popemobiles’.
Your tour takes in the Bramante Courtyard, home to iconic statues Apollo Belvedere, Laocoön and his Sons and the Belvedere Torso, and Nero’s Bathtub, a massive precious marble bath over 25 feet in diameter. You will visit the fabulous Vatican Museums, the Gallery of Tapestries, the Gallery of the Candelabra and the Gallery of Maps, an incredible collection of large maps commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII.
See the Raphael Rooms, a series of papal apartments designed and frescoed by Raphael, including one of his key works The School of Athens, and the Borgia Apartments with frescoes by Raphael’s contemporary and co-student Pinturicchio.
Your tour ends with skip-the-line entry to St Peter’s Basilica and the Papal Tombs. The largest church in the world and lavishly decorated, this breathtaking space houses a treasure trove of art work including Bernini’s Baldacchino, the massive canopy immediately below the dome, and Michelangelo’s Pietà. Below St Peter’s you will visit the tombs of hundreds of popes and your guide will share stories of some of the more fascinating leaders of the Roman Catholic church.
If you wish at the end of the tour you can add a climb up to the Dome of St Peter’s. There are 231 steps to the top (or you can take a lift for part of the way) and the views from the top are unforgettable! Ask your guide how to access the dome (at an extra cost of 8-10 euros).
Important: If your tour falls on a Wednesday St Peter’s is not open for tours as there is a regular papal Mass on Wednesday mornings.
It is not possible to return to the Vatican Museums from St Peter’s Basilica, so so if you want more time in the museums you will have to forgo the visit to St Peter’s. Also note that there is a long security line to get back into St Peter’s from outside, so if you want to have more time in the church we recommend that you don’t leave with your guide to take photos in the Piazza when the tour has ended.
(Children under the age of 6 pay nothing, but please let us know how many are in your group, if applicable.)