The Sistine Chapel: a tribute to universal art
We are in front of one of the pinnacles of art of all time, Michelangelo's masterpiece, one of the most beautiful, admired and visited works in the world.
The Sistine Chapel is Vatican City's greatest artistic and cultural treasure, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an absolute wonder.
Story of a true artistic miracle
The beauty of this work is almost beyond human understanding. The Sistine Chapel is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and was commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere at the end of the 15th century.
The Chapel is located to the right of St Peter's Basilica, and precisely in the Apostolic Palace, where the Holy Father's official residence is located, and is included in the itinerary of the Vatican Museums, representing its most exciting moment.
Its story begins when the Pope decided to look for artists who could paint a cycle of frescoes comparing the lives of Jesus and Moses.
The task was entrusted to great names such as the masters Sandro Botticelli and Luca Signorelli, with Perugino directing. Michelangelo Buonarroti, on the other hand, dedicated himself to the Sistine Chapel vault, and for his frescoes he chose the series of the Sibyls and Prophets, the Progenitors and the Stories of Genesis.
Michelangelo's frescoes are just as famous as, sadly, his torments. Realising the vault of St Peter's Chapel was, in fact, a constant source of great physical and mental suffering for him.
Forced to work lying down, he emerged exhausted. He suffered spinal deformities and vision problems. Moreover, his relationship with Julius II, nephew of Sixtus IV, was stormy and did not help him at all.
The Last Judgement
The Last Judgement was created later than the rest of the Chapel's works, with Pope Clement VII calling upon Michelangelo to fresco the Chapel's back wall. It was 1533. The Tuscan artist, however, began working during the pontificate of Paul III, three years later. He finished his work in 1541, at the age of 66.
The Sistine Chapel in all its splendour
The Sistine Chapel is also known as the site of the conclave, where the cardinals gather to elect the new Pope. In the past, it was also the site of papal coronations. In general, it remains a kind of Bible told in powerful images.
The entrance ticket to the Vatican Museums includes a visit to the Sistine Chapel.
An interesting fact
There is a “Sistine Chapel” also in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. It was built by Sixtus V and is not the only one. Another stands in the cathedral of Savona, was the work of Sixtus IV and had a precise intent: it was to be the elegant mausoleum of his parents.