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The Vaticana is home to the world’s most visited art museum and one of the world’s oldest religious art institutions. Founded by Pope Julius II in 1506, the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums) is located in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, which also functions as home to the papal residence and offices of the Roman Catholic Church’s central government. The Musei Vaticani includes several art galleries, a natural history museum, and various other sites.
Vaticana’s art museums are some of the most visited globally, attracting approximately 6 million visitors annually. The Musei Vaticani features artwork from its collection and other museums and private collections in Italy and around the world.
The Vatican Museums offer numerous attractions that make exploring the Vaticana more than just a visit to the site where a religious institution is housed. The museum’s collection spans a variety of periods, cultures, and religions, which offer visitors a glimpse into the rich history of art and culture throughout the world. The museum’s collection is awe-inspiring given that the Vatican Museums were built as a private collection by Pope Julius II in the 1500s. The staggering size of the Vatican’s art collection and its popularity make it one of the best-known museums in Europe and one of the most-visited art galleries in the world.
‘The Vaticana architecture is colorful, awe-inspiring, and overwhelming. When you are inside this museum, you feel like you are in a different world than your own.’
‘This place is impressive. It gives you a sense that you discover something new every time you visit.’
Touring Tips: Once inside, start at either end of the Forums; see what attracts your attention and go from there. Spend at least a couple of hours here if time allows and spend some time on each floor until you have seen them all. If not, please stop by to see Raphael Rooms before leaving for good or for lunch after visiting other parts of Vaticana (we recommend Peppe Fratelli). Theresa also suggests visiting Cardinal Comstock Gallery as well (entrance located on the Northside), which houses oils by Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Veronese & others and has two frescoes by Raphael (in his earlier style), including Madonna with Saints Francis and Felicita). — Kimberly Lee.