Named after Pope Sixtus IV, the Sistine Chapel is perhaps the most famous chapel in the world.
It is renowned both for its function as the Papal Conclave and for its incredible artwork.
The Sistine Chapel serves as the room in which the pope is elected by a College of Cardinals
known as the Papal Conclave. The Cardinals are locked within the chapel until a new Pope is
selected. White smoke rising from the Chapel’s chimney announces the election of a new Pope
by a majority of two-thirds of the conclave, while black smoke indicates that this majority has
yet been reached.
The Sistine Chapel was built according to the measurements of the inner sanctum of Solomon’s
Temple in Jerusalem as written in the Old Testament. The screen, or “transenna”, dividing the
chapel is made of marble and includes a wooden door. It was moved from its original place to
provide the members of the Papal Chapel more space.
Station 2 – Frescoes
Along the northern, eastern and southern walls, astonishing frescoes depicting biblical stories
can be seen.
The northern wall includes the ‘Stories of Christ’: Baptism of Christ, Temptation of Christ,
Vocation of the Apostles, The Sermon on the Mount, The Delivery of the Keys and the Last
The southern wall includes the ‘Stories of Moses’: Moses Leaving to Egypt, The Trials of Moses,
The Crossing of the Red Sea, Descent from Mount Sinai, Punishment of the Rebels and the
Testament and Death of Moses.
The eastern wall portrays the Resurrection of Christ and Disputation over Moses' Body.
These beautiful paintings were created by famous artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Cosimo
Rosselli and Pietro Perugino who were commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV to restore the Chapel.
The paintings of the northern and southern wall were completed in 1482 while the paintings on
the eastern wall were added later in 1572 by Hendrik Van den Broeck and Matteo da Lecce.
Station 3 – Michelangelo's Frescoes
The ceiling and western wall of the Sistine Chapel are adorned with some of the most
celebrated paintings in the world created by the famous artist – Michelangelo Buonarroti.
Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the ceiling in 1508 and he completed his work
in 1512. The middle section depicts 9 stories from the Book of Genesis, including the
iconic ‘Creation of Adam’ where the hand of God is seen reaching to Adam to give him life.
In 1535 Michelangelo was commissioned once again to paint the western wall over the altar.
He completed this spectacular painting of the ‘Last Judgment’ in 1541. The painting depicts
the end-of-days and second coming of Christ when according to Christian faith all souls will be
judged by Jesus, the Saints and God and sent to heaven or hell.
Despite being one of the most adored works of art in history, Michelangelo was originally
hesitant to paint the ceiling of the chapel for he saw himself as more of a sculptor than a
The original ‘Last Judgment’ painting included fully nude human figures, but these were later
covered by another artist due to the demands of some Papal members who claimed that the
nudity was obscene and improper.