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Vatican

Forget the Louvre, the Met or the Hermitage, some of the world’s greatest collections of art can be found in the Vatican Museums.

Perhaps the greatest collection of exhibits in the entire world, the jaw-dropping Vatican Museums combine sublime Renaissance masterpieces with time-honored Roman relics.

The Vatican Museums collection was created by Pope Julius II in 1506 — the same year the foundation stone was laid for St. Peter’s Basilica — to display the masterpieces acquired by the Catholic Church over the previous centuries. These works, which include paintings, sculpture and historical artifacts, now attract more than 5 million visitors each year.

There are many smaller collections that make up the Vatican Museums collection, with each boasting spectacular works of art, but there are a few particular highlights visitors should prioritize. The Pinacoteca Vaticana art gallery contains renowned paintings and altarpieces by Old Masters including Giotto, Raphael and da Vinci as well as Caravaggio's signature work The Entombment of Christ. The Museo Pio-Clementino is home to examples of Greek and Roman sculpture. There are also sprawling collections of Ancient Egyptian artifacts, contemporary religious art and decorative Italian maps through the ages.

Most notably, there are a series of rooms dedicated to the Renaissance master Raphael. Originally intended as a suite of apartments for Pope Julius II, but now existing as a shrine to the great artist. The four rooms here have some of Raphael’s greatest surviving frescoes and other works, including The School of Athens, Adam and Eve and The Parnassus.

However, perhaps the most famous room isn’t actually in the museum’s collection, but en route to it. The Sistine Chapel was designed and painted by the finest group of interior decorators ever assembled. The walls are covered in stunning frescoes by Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Cosimo Rosselli and other great Renaissance artists, while the ceiling has what is considered Michelangelo’s greatest work, The Creation of Adam and Eve.

The Vatican Museum is in central Rome and is open Monday to Saturday, and is also open the last Sunday of each month when entry is free. It is closed for several holidays throughout the year. Check the museum’s website for details.

You can walk there from the city center; the most direct route is to cross the Tiber and walk straight up Via della Conciliazione. The Metro train station Ottaviano is a short walk away along Via Ottaviano.

You could easily spend a whole morning or afternoon at Vatican Museums. The list below contains a nice selection of the activities you can enjoy here:

Examine our Vatican City things to do page to find more activities while you're here.


Guide to Exploring around Vatican Museums


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Vatican Museums

See all 10,416 Properties near Vatican Museums
Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House NT$2,914
Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House

Best Western Plus Hotel Spring House

Via Mocenigo 7, Rome, RM
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in the center of Rome, this family-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Vatican Museums and Vatican Gardens. St. Peter's Square and Monte Mario are also within 15 minutes. Cipro Station is 6 minutes by foot and Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 8 minutes.

    Hotel Quirinale NT$2,711
    Hotel Quirinale

    Hotel Quirinale

    Via Nazionale 7, Rome, RM
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Repubblica, this family-friendly Rome hotel is steps from Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Via Nazionale, and Via XX Settembre. Via Veneto and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore are also within 10 minutes. Repubblica - Opera House Station is only a 2-minute walk and Barberini Station is 8 minutes.

      Grand Hotel Olympic NT$1,753
      Grand Hotel Olympic

      Grand Hotel Olympic

      Via Properzio 2/a, Rome, RM
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo and Castel Sant'Angelo. St. Peter's Square and Vatican Museums are also within 15 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 7 minutes by foot and Lepanto Station is 13 minutes.

        San Pietro Boutique Rooms NT$2,898
        San Pietro Boutique Rooms

        San Pietro Boutique Rooms

        Via Properzio, 32, Rome, RM
           
          0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Vatican, this townhouse accommodation is within a 10-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo, Castel Sant'Angelo, and St. Peter's Square. St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel are also within 15 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 8 minutes by foot and Lepanto Station is 15 minutes.

          NH Collection Roma Giustiniano NT$3,045
          NH Collection Roma Giustiniano

          NH Collection Roma Giustiniano

          Via Virgilio 1 E/F/G, Rome, RM
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Via Cola di Rienzo, Chiesa Valdese, and Auditorium Conciliazione. Castel Sant'Angelo is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) away. Lepanto Station is 11 minutes by foot and Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 11 minutes.

            Starhotels Michelangelo NT$2,913
            Starhotels Michelangelo

            Starhotels Michelangelo

            Via Della Stazione Di San Pietro 14, Rome, RM
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Vatican, this family-friendly Rome hotel is within a 10-minute walk of St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica, and Sistine Chapel. Castel Sant'Angelo and Vatican Museums are also within 1 mi (2 km). Rome S. Pietro Station and Rome San Pietro Station are within a 5-minute walk.

              Hotel Museum NT$1,533
              Hotel Museum

              Hotel Museum

              Via Tunisi 8, Rome
                 
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Vatican Museums and Vatican Gardens. St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica are also within 15 minutes. Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 6 minutes by foot and Cipro Station is 7 minutes.

                Hotel Alimandi Vaticano NT$3,147
                Hotel Alimandi Vaticano

                Hotel Alimandi Vaticano

                Viale Vaticano, 99, Rome, RM
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Vatican, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica. Castel Sant'Angelo and Piazza Navona are also within 2 mi (3 km). Cipro Station is 7 minutes by foot and Ottaviano - San Pietro - Musei Vaticani Station is 7 minutes.