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Galleria delle Carte Geografiche

An important, though frequently overlooked component of the Vatican Museums, the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche (Gallery of Maps) is more corridor than room, running half the length of one side of the upper floor at 175 metres and adjoining the Galleria degli Arazzi and the Galleria dei Candelabri.

The Gallery of Maps was the creation of Pope Gregory XIII, who we know today for devising the Gregorian Calendar which we use today. Gregory's self-imposed remit was much bigger even than that - his commanding of time fitted neatly into his vision that the entire world be under the writ and control of a Catholic Church bossed from Rome, and the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche is a bold attempt to map this dominion. Starting in 1578, Gregory had built a new storey on top of a corridor alongside the Belvedere Courtyard, with the map gallery just part of a concrete celebration of his papacy. Again, the spiritual father was attempting to leave a very material record of his time as pontiff. All this took place against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation, as the Papacy desperately tried to assert the supremacy of Rome. The gallery was to describe, in cartographical detail, just how the Catholic Church had pulled the whole (known) world together, with the Pope at its head.

Down both walls are massive maps of all the provinces of Italy, some extant, some commissioned to complete the set. The Pope played fast and loose with historical and political fact: the former papal seat of Avignon in France was included, as were Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, though these were currently controlled by Spain. The placing of the maps on the walls represents (roughly) their place on the Italian peninsula, so one can get a sense of viewing maps within a larger 'map' - that being the whole room.

Complementing the maps are narrative scenes from the history of the Church - old testament martyrs, holy victories over unbelievers (and Protestants). All are parts of the story which lead us to our current position - complete dominion of the Catholic Church over the world. If northern Protestant troublemakers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Knox could foment dissatisfaction with Rome and its works, the Papacy could mount a dazzling display of the efficacy of the Papacy - the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche would display to humbled pilgrims that Rome really was creating, civilising and unifying God's Kingdom on Earth.

Tickitaly are official agents for the Vatican and offer individual ticket booking as well as both group and private tours - click here for information on arranging a private tour for you and your party, and click here for information on joining a group tour of the Vatican.


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Coronavirus in Italy


Please note that in order to use your tickets you MUST be able to provide one of the following:

  • - Covid19 Green Pass certification (in digital or paper format) able to attest - together with a valid identity document - that they have received at least one dose of one of the vaccines authorized by the EMA or AIFA (Comirnaty by Pfizer-BioNtech, Vaxzevria by Astrazeneca, Janssen by Johnson & Johnson and Moderna)
  • Exemptions: COVID-19 Green Certification is not required for children excluded by age from the vaccination campaign (under 12 years of age) and those exempt on the basis of appropriate medical certification.
  • - Visitors from Israel, Canada, Japan and the United States - Vaccination certificates issued by the health authorities of these countries (complying with EU Recommendation no. 2021/912 of 20 May 2021) will also be accepted, but must include the identifying data of the person and data regarding the type of vaccine and date(s) of administration. Please note that certificates will be accepted if they are in Italian, English, French or Spanish. If the certificate is not issued in bilingual form and not in one of the four languages indicated in the Order of the Minister of Health of 18 June 2021, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation.

This documentation must be presented at the entrance when the body temperature is checked.

Security queues to check the Green Pass requirements may be a bit long so do allow plenty of time to ensure you do not miss your entrance slot. Have your Green Pass and ID ready for viewing. Whilst they may seem long, queues do move fast so please be patient. Thank you for your cooperation.

PLEASE NOTE: If you do not have a Green Pass and a valid identity document, you will not be able to access and your ticket will not be refunded. For further information www.dgc.gov.it

Due to Coronavirus many venues and events are applying strict entry conditions. These will vary by venue but common examples are:

  • You must wear a compliant CE mask (Ordinanza RT n.48) which covers both mouth and nose.
  • Disposable single-use gloves must be worn at all times.
  • Hands (or gloves) must be cleaned with a disinfectant gel on entry.
  • Your temperature (which will be measured on entry) must not be above 37.5°C.
  • Visitors must maintain a social distance of 1.8m at all times.
  • There may be a maximum visitor limit in place - in some cases this may lead to delays

Any conditions may be changed without notice as Italian regulations are updated.

If you are denied entrance because of failure to meet entry conditions, no refunds will be available.