Early Morning Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel

Duration
4hours
Inclusions
Small Group
Tour Guide
Entrance Fees
Headsets
Language
English
Max Group Size
13 people
Transportation
Transportation from your hotel or lodging to the activity check in.
No
$
96
23
/ Adult
Available:
Weekly on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Time:
7:20 AM
Through E
Response rate: 
80%
Response time:
several hours
Highlights
  • Early access to the Sistine Chapel
  • The Hall of Maps
  • The Raphael Rooms
  • The Ancient Sculpture Galleries, including the Laocoon and the Apollo Belvedere
  • The Belvedere Courtyard and the Cortile della Pigna
  • St. Peter's Basilica
Preview Description
Experience the Sistine Chapel early in the morning, before it opens to the general public. Get inspired by the Vatican's masterpiece
 
Description
Join our Early Morning Vatican Tour and treat yourself to a VIP experience, visiting the Sistine Chapel before the Vatican Museums open to the public. With our early access to the Vatican and skip-the-line tickets, you will be able to enjoy the unparalleled show that Michelangelo has staged for us as never before. Grasp the real secret of his talent, connecting to his art.

Gaze upon the captivating gestures of the figures on the vault of the Sistine Chapel, from the Creation of Adam to the prophets, such as Jonah or Jeremiah, and find out how Michelangelo broke all the artistic rules of his age.

Explore the unrivalled collection of Classic Art in the Vatican Museums, unearthed in the Renaissance, and which inspired Michelangelo and Raphael to create their masterpieces.

Between the two artists there was an incredible rivalry, and they were also working side-by-side; whilst Raphael painstakingly painted his masterpieces in the Raphael Rooms, Michelangelo laboured over the Sistine Chapel. This is just one of the many stories that will leave you speechless on our early Vatican tour.

From the Sistine Chapel, you will skip the line and the security checks, to reach to St. Peter's Basilica. Once inside, you will marvel at Bernini’s Baldachin and Michelangelo’s breath-taking Pietà. Our early access Vatican tour will take you to appreciate other crucial works of the Basilica, retracing the long history of Christianity.

Tour the Sistine Chapel before it opens: enjoy it as did popes and princes 

Our early morning Vatican tour will offer you the perfect environment to admire the Sistine Chapel and the artworks of the Museums, while you appreciate their beauty and comprehend their meaning. Exploring with a talented guide in a small group, will help you visualize the cultural context in which such works arose. You will learn about the incredible passions of artists and princes, merchants and bankers, in creatiing a new world of elegant palaces, magnificent domes, and spectacular cities. Visiting the Vatican you will discover the relevance of the Renaissance, this happy season of human history when the flowering of the arts was accompanied by the evolution of science, together laying the foundations for much of our modern world.

As an accredited tour company with the Museums, we buy skip the line tickets for the Vatican for all our visitors, allowing them the most convenient morning visit to Michelangelo's impressive frescoes.

Sistine Chapel: meet a genius

Whoever sees the Sistine Chapel through the eyes of Michelangelo, whoever reads in it his thoughts and sentiments, encounters a genius. Who he was, how he lived and what he thought, are the main themes of our visit. Our guides will accompany into the great building projects of the Italian Renaissance and together we will relive the environment of the Papal court in Rome in which Michelangelo created his masterpieces. The figures of Jonah, Adam, Eve, Noah and thousands of others on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and in the Last Judgement speak of Michelangelo and of his ideas. You will appreciate what they say, and how and why these frescoes have redefined not only art, but the way in which we look at the world.

The Raphael Rooms tour: enter into the courts of the Italian Renaissance

This was a period of overwhelming enthusiasm and of amazing innovation. The men of the Renaissance didn't merely dream of changing the world - they really revolutionised it. The printing press, the geographic maps with which Columbus reached the Americas, modern science, architecture, art and the sense of beauty (a concept demonized in the Middle Ages), all these were their creations. The frescoes of the Raphael rooms perfectly depict the world of the contemporary courts that governed the course of this new world and where the great geniuses of the age called home. The cultured conversations fueled by the wine of sumptuous banquets, the statues brought to light by a frenzied passion for excavations, new fashions, and above all new ways of thinking and living, are marvellously recreated by Raphael with the perfect touch of his graceful brush. This is an experience that we will have the opportunity to relive in the flesh on our Vatican group tours. Indeed, there is an entire world to discover here, a world of which we ourselves are the children.

Vatican Museums Tour: stories of art and classic artworks 

Some of the the most important works that we will discover, such as timeless Greek masterpieces like the Laocoon, the Belvedere Torso and the Apollo Belvedere, were excavated at the time of Michelangelo and Raphael. They studied and admired them in the same architectural context in which they are preserved today. This is what makes the Vatican Museums so special and unique in the world: their walls incorporate the history of the Renaissance. The artworks the great masters created are the fruit of their careful study. We will walk through the Vatican Museums stopping by the Pinecone courtyard, the Belvedere courtyard, the tapestry galleries and many classic statues retracing their experience. Discovering a meaningful selection of masterpieces with our knowledgeable guide, you will appreciate the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel in their original context.

From the Sistine Chapel we will reach St. Peter's Basilica without waiting in line

St. Peter's Basilica: The Story of Fatih
Visiting St. Peter's Basilica will take you to the heart of the Christian faith, discovering also an incredible collection of relics and religious objects gathered over the course of nearly 2,000 years at the site of St. Peter's tomb, located below the main altar. In the basilica you will have the chance to admire and understand enchanting works of art such as Michelangelo's Pietà, a work whose intimate embrace overflows with such tenderness that it can move even the hardest viewer to tears. The masterpieces of Bernini, the great genius of the Italian Baroque, also dominate St. Peter's, and the spectacular piazza dazzles with astounding optical effects. It is here that the faithful have gathered for centuries to celebrate the great events of Christianity, from the election of new popes to solemn masses. We will bring you here to read a history that will also become our own, a history lived by the protagonists of our fascinating Vatican group tours.

To get the full story of how Christianity replaced the ancient pagan world in the earliest years of the faith, check out our fascinating Underground Rome and Catacombs Tour.
 
Activity Level
The Vatican Museums are vast and contain numerous steps and stairways. We recommend comfortable shoes and a bottle of water
 
Places Visited
  • The Raphael rooms (Stanze di Raphael) are four rooms which were used as the residence of the popes between 1507 and 1585.
The Raphael rooms (Vatican museums) The Raphael rooms (Stanze di Raphael) are four rooms which were used as the residence of the popes between 1507 and 1585. The first pope to use ... morethe Raphael rooms as his residence was Pope Julius II. Pope Gregory XIII was the last Pope to use these rooms as his residence. Today, the Raphael rooms are part of the Vatican museum.

The Raphael rooms form part of the apartment located on the second floor of the Pontifical Palace that was first chosen by Pope Julius II della Rovere as his own residence and was later used by his successors for the same purpose. The decoration of the rooms was done by Raphael and his pupils between 1508 and 1524. Although Raphael died in 1520, his pupils continued with the project until its completion in 1524.

The Raphael rooms are: Room of Constantine, Room of Heliodorus, Room of the Segnatura and Room of the Fire in the Borgo.

Room of Constantine: this is the largest room of the four Raphael rooms. It is the room which is dedicated to the victory of Christianity over paganism. The frescoes contained in this room represent the struggles from the life of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Some of the features in the Room of Constantine include: the Vision of the Cross, the Baptism of Constantine, the Battle of Milvian Bridge and the Donation of Constantine.

Room of Heliodorus: this is the private chamber that symbolizes the heavenly protection provided by Christ to the Church. The room contains four paintings, namely: the Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, the Mass at Bolsena, the Meeting of Pope Leo I and Attila, and the Deliverance of Saint Peter from Prison.

Room of the Segnatura: it was the study room of Pope Julius II. The room symbolizes bringing into harmony the spirits of Antiquity and Christianity. Here is where most of the papal documents were signed and sealed among these were: The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, the School of Athens, the Parnassus, the Cardinal Virtues, among others.

Room of the Fire in the Borgo: it shows Pope Leo IV making the sign of the cross to put out a raging fire in the Borgo. During the reign of Pope Leo X, this room was used as a music room. Most of the frescos in the room portray events that took place from the lives of Pope Leo III and Pope Leo IV. Some of the paintings in this room include: the Oath of Leo III, the Coronation of Charlemagne, Fire in the Borgo and the Battle of Ostia.

The Raphael rooms are decorated with paintings that make them look magnificent. The rooms are located a few steps away from the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Cathedral. The next time you visit Rome, pay a visit to these rooms and you will be astonished by the paintings within them. The Raphael rooms are one of the most visited parts of the Vatican museums and they have a grand history which is significant for the Roman Catholic Church.
Type:
Attraction, Cultural, Historic, Museum
Features:
Bathroom
  • The construction of Cortile del Belvedere was the initiative of Pope Julius II and Bramante who wanted to connect an ancient pontifical palace on the right side of St. Peter’s
Cortile del Belvedere The construction of Cortile del Belvedere was the initiative of Pope Julius II and Bramante who wanted to connect an ancient pontifical palace on the right side ... moreof St. Peter’s, and the palace which was built for Innocent VIII by Pollaiolo on the little hill known as del Belvedere. Pope Julius was a great collector of statues when he was still a cardinal. After he was elected as pope he carried all his collection to the Vatican. The Belvedere was one of the places that contained the pope’s several sculpture collections and started making the place more attractive and popular.

As a result of the demand to connect the two palaces, Bramante designed two long corridors which created a big courtyard. Pope Julius II was a great fan of architectural works and wanted to build something impressive which would enhance the grandeur of both palaces. Just as expected, Bramante designed a spectacular court yard which connected the Vatican Palace and the Villa Belvedere. He designed a series of terraces which were connected by stairs and had narrow wings on its sides.

Bramante was very innovative when designing the Cortile del Belvedere. The courtyard contained six narrow terraces which were crisscrossed by a central staircase that led to the wide middle terrace. The long wings on the sides of the terraces of Cortile del Belvedere are what now house the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library.

The Cortile del Belvedere provided an easy and comfortable means of passing from a garden terrace to the palace court. Bramante originally designed the uppermost terrace as a garden ground but as a result of the small size of the house, he came up with another idea. He made another decorative erection of a garden structure within the colossal semicircular niche, with a loggia on top of it. This provided a spectacular view over the landscape and the entire city.

The Cortile del Belvedere courtyard was used for several occasions due to its spectacular design and atmosphere. In 1565, Pope Pius IV held here a festival event in honour of the wedding of his nephew.

The construction of Cortile del Belvedere led to several developments of outstanding structures in the Vatican City. As a matter of fact, the courtyard led to the establishment of the Vatican Library, Gallery of inscriptions, the Museum of Christian Art, the Gallery of Urban VIII, the Sistine Hall, the Pauline Rooms, and the Gallery of Maps, among others. These are some of the structures rich in the Roman Catholic Church history continue to attract many visitors from all over the world. Until today, Cortile del Belvedere still remains one of the greatest architectural works in the Vatican. The courtyard provides a spectacular view of the entire Vatican City and it houses numerous sculptures and collections.
Type:
Attraction, Historic
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.... more

The ceiling and western wall of the Sistine Chapel are adorned with some of the most astonishing paintings in the world created by the famous artist – Michelangelo Buonarroti.

Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in 1508 and he completed his work in 1512. The middle section depicts nine stories from the Book of Genesis, including the renowned ‘Creation of Adam’ where the hand of God is seen reaching to Adam to instill him with 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 celebrated works of art in history, Michelangelo was originally hesitant to paint the ceiling of the chapel for he considered himself as more of a sculptor than a painter.

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.

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo who depicted nine stories from the book of Genesis including the famous 'Creation of Adam'.

The first three stories are:
1. The Separation of Light from Darkness: Genesis 1:1-5;
2. The Creation of the sun, moon and planets: Genesis 1:11-19;
3. The Separation of Land from Sea: Genesis 1,9-10)

Following these paintings of the Sistine Chapel ceiling in the Vatican are the mid-section patintings:
1. The Creation of Adam & Eve (Genesis 1:26- 2:25), with the figures of man and woman in their nakedness.
2. The Banishment from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:22-24).

The last three frescoes of Michelangelo include:
1. The Sacrifice of Noah: (Genesis 8:15-20)
2. The Flood (Genesis 6:5-8,20)
3. The Drunkenness of Noah (Genesis 9:20-27)
* All these show the fall and rebirth of humanity

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.

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 painter. 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.

The middle section of the ceiling depicts 9 stories fromthe Book of Genesis, including the iconic ‘Creation of Adam’ where the hand ofGod is seen reaching to Adam to give him life. In 1535 Michelangelo was commissioned once again to paint thewestern wall over the altar.

Michelangelo completed this spectacular painting of the‘Last Judgment’ in 1541. The painting depicts the end-of-days and second comingof Christ when according to Christian faith all souls will be judged by Jesus,the Saints and God and sent to heaven or hell.
Type:
Attraction, Cultural, Historic, Museum
The Notorious Roman Emperor Caligula(37-41AD) built a circus at the area of the current Vatican. St Peter the apostle was buried in anecropolis to the north of the circus. ... more

Traditionally it issaid that The See of Rome was founded by Saint Peter who firstheld the position of the Bishop of Rome (Pope).Between the years 324 and 326 AD, theEmperor Constantine built a basilica on top of St. Peter's grave. It was replacedby the present St. Peter's Basilica between the 16th and 17th centuries. And was designed and decorated by Renaissance andbaroque geniuses such as Raphael, Bramante, Bernini Michelangelo, and Maderna. St.Peter's basilica is the largest religious building in the world. 

St. Peter's Basilica, Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano or Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Italian, is a Church located in Vatican City that dates back to the Renaissance age. Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante were the main architects of the magnificent basilica and it is one of the most famous architectural works of the Renaissance era. The building of the current church (replaced the old 4th century Church over St. Peter's tomb) began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.

According to Roman Catholic tradition St. Peter's Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, one Christs' 12 apostles. Additionally in Roman Catholic tradition, St. Peter was also the first Bishop of Rome and thus was the first in the papal (pope) lineage.

Saint Peter's Basilica is located within the Vatican and thus it serves the Popes for ceremonies. Throughout the year a number of services are conducted by the pope and they attract audiences of 20,000 to over 90,000 people who come to the Vatican Basilica (St. Peter's) or St. Peter's Square. In addition to serving the papcy, St. Peter's is one of the four churches of Rome that hold the rank of Major Basilica.

Saint Peter's tomb is located directly below the altar of the St. Peter's Basilica and soem hitorical evidence supports this. Many Popes have been buried at St. Peter's for this reason and this is also why there has been a church at this location in Rome since the times of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (4th century)

The basilica has great architectural structures that tooks everal years to design and build. One of the major contributors to the amazing structure of St. Peter’s Basilica is the Master Michelangelo. The following are some ofthe spectacular architectural features of the basilica: the Bramante’s dome, Maderno’s façade, St Peter’s statues, narthex and portals, and Maderno’ nave. St. Peter also has a lovely Piazza, fountains, altars, towers. It also known for the statues in the piers of the dome ( among them are the statues of Saint Helena, St.Longinus, St. Andrew and St. Veronica).

The specifications of the St. Peter’s basilica are approximately: length: 730 feet (220 m); width: 500 feet (150 m); maximum height: 452 feet (138 m); outer dome diameter: 137.7 feet (42 m); inner dome diameter: 136.1 feet (41.5 m). These dimensions are indeed an indication of how huge the basilica is. With its spectacular furnishes, architecture, tombs and collections of art, St. Peter’s Basilica is and will always be one of the largest churches in the world and oneof the holiest Catholic sites.
Type:
Attraction, Historic, Museum
The Gallery of Maps is called the Galleria delle carte geografiche in Italian.  Situated in the Vatican on the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard, the gallery contains a series of ... morepainted topographical maps of Italy. These maps were based on drawings by Ignazio Danti a Dominican Italian friar, mathematician, astronomer, cosmographer and geographer which was born as Pellegrino Rainaldi Danti in Perugia in 1536.

The galley was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII in 1580 . Pope Gregory XIII ordered it made as well as many other works of art. The Pope commissioned these works of art in order to decorate the Vatican. The completion of the work on the gallery took Danti three years (1580–1583). Today the gallery consists of 40 panels which go along the 120 m gallery. 

The panels map the entirety of the Italian peninsula including Sardinia and Corsica. The maps are in fact frescoes. Each fresco features a different region. Special detail was given to the region's most prominent city. With the Apennines serving as the dividing line, one side features the area surrounded by the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas and the other shows the area near the Adriatic Sea.

The maps are both beautiful and informative as they reveal the way that the renaissance Italians saw themselves and their surroundings in pre- national Italy. Italy was not one nation in the time of the renaissance when the maps were made. The maps also provide insight to the art of cartography ( making of maps) of these times.The gallery is a fascinating place to visit whether you take a special interest in maps or not.

In the gallery of maps the vaulted ceiling is also decorated. These decorations were done by a group of Mannerist artists including Girolamo Muziano and Cesare Nebbia.
Type:
Attraction, Historic, Museum
Features:
Bathroom
  • The Huge statue known as the Pigna (pine) or the Fontana Della Pigna depicts a giant Pine Cone
The Huge statue known as the Pigna (pine) or the Fontana Della Pigna depicts a giant Pine Cone. It is located in St. Peter's, in an area called the court of the Pigna.The Court of ... morethe Pigna is the northern part of the grand renaissance Belvedere Courtyard that stretches between the Papal Palaces to the "palazzetto" which belonged to Innocent VII's . The courtyard was segmented into three parts after the construction of Sixtus V's Library and the Braccio Nuovo of Pius VII. The present courtyard derived its name form the beautiful pine cone statue set into the "nicchone", borders on the south side with the Braccio Nuovo, and on the east it borders with the Chiaromonti Gallery. To its north you can find Innocent VIII's Palazzetto and on the west the galleries of the Apostolic Library are located.

The pine cone was cast out of bronze in the 1st or 2nd century by the sculptor Publius Cincius Salvius. He was identified as its creator because his name was written on the base of the huge pine. The Statue's height is almost 4 meters and on both sides of the pine cone there are bronze peacocks which are copies of the ones in Hadrian's tomb.

Before it was moved to its current location, known as the Court of the Pigna, the statue of the Pine was situated in the Campus Martius. This area is still known today as "Pigna" after this statue. At its previous location it was used as a fountain with the water pouring from holes pierced in the scales of the cone. At the 8th century it was transferred to the entrance hall of the medieval basilica of St. Peter. It was placed decoratively in the middle of the fountain covered by ornate baldachin. We know this because the statue was identified in Renaissance drawings of the hall. Eventually, during the construction of the current basilica, in 1608, the giant pine cone fountain was moved and situated in its current location.

This statue is a beautiful and ancient one and it's definitely worth stopping by and admiring it as it has been part of Rome's landscape for almost 2000 years!
Type:
Attraction, Historic
Rates
Per
Type
Price
Info
AdultGroup Tour
$
96
23
Student
$
81
33
Age 5-18 (and students under 25)
Child
$
0
4 and under
Schedule
Dates
Time
Weekly on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday7:20 AM
Payment & Cancellation
Cancellation Policy
Custom policy
  • Cancellations made 15 days before will be fully refunded except for a service fee of 3%.
  • Cancellations made 8 hours before will be refunded 50% of the amount paid.
  • Cancellations made at a later date will not be refunded.
8 reviews   0 comments
Rating
Was the tour accurately described on the webiste? In other words did it meet your expectations?
(5.0 of 5)
Our tour of the Vatican was the best one of our time in Italy and all because of our guide, Lucca. Not only was he easy to understand, he has amazing knowledge of Italian history and an ability to bring it to life before our eyes. He provided such detail on Michaelangelo's works that I am craving more! I would highly recommend this tour with Lucca as a guide.
Rating
1
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Guia was excellent! The pace of our tour was just right, and we appreciated very much the time she spent with our 7 year old, the youngest and most energetic member of our group. Guia succeeded in keeping her entertained throughout the tour! We were rushed out of the sistine chapel prematurely, but Guia spoke to the guards who let us return. Very much appreciated!
Rating
0
1
Laura Nicotra was an absolute terrific guide! She was efficient, informative, charming and extremely knowledgable. She gave us a 40 minute talk on the Sistine Chapel, while showing pictures of it while we were waiting on line to enter the Vatican Museum. This was so helpful to help me and gave a better understanding of the artwork, even though I had read up on it prior to the tour. I highly recommend ... more her and would book another tour with her if we had only the chance to stay longer in the Eternal City of Rome.
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The tour guide is so important on a tour like this- it's long and there is so much information given to you that you really need to enjoy the guide. Enrica was our guide and she was fabulous!!! Cheerily, bubbly and full of facts. We were referred to this tour company by friends and so glad we took their advice!! Grazie !!
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The tour was great, we had a smooth and easy early morning access to the Vatican before the queues started building up. It was very easy to find the guide at the meeting point, details were very precise. Enriqua our guide was very knowledgeable, she told us the history with too much of fun but also passion. We were a small group which gave us the opportunity to ask the questions we had and move and ... more communicate and explore the place with ease. We did two tours with this company and both are worth the money we paid. Big thanks to Enrique who made our tour enjoyable.
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Our guide Guia was absolutely fantastic. Her love and knowledge reflected throughout our tour. She impressed even my 17 year old son. We wished we would have booked more tours with Through Eternity, especially Guia. We saw her later giving another tour and felt envious we weren't in her group. With gratitude in making the Vatican and Sistine Chapel even more special.
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I could not have been happier with this tour. I got to see a lot of the Vatican with a knowledgeable and entertaining guide--so much so that I wished that I had taken a notebook with me to take notes! The hours flew by. I would definitely do another tour with Gracelynn.
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We enjoyed this tour and saw everything we had hoped to see. Our guide Vanessa was excellent! She was both knowledgable of the sights and of working around the crowds which really helped to make this tour a great experience.
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