Semi-Private Vatican Museums Night Tour

2hours 30minutes
Small Group
Tour Guide
Entrance Fees
Exclusive Evening Entrance
Skip-the-lines Access
Max Group Size
10 people
Transportation from your hotel or lodging to the activity check in.
/ Adult
Fri, May 31 2024
6:45 PM
Through E
Response rate: 
Response time:
several hours
  • The Last Supper Tapestry
  • The ancient sculptures of the Octagonal Courtyard
  • The Sistine Chapel
  • The Raphael Rooms
  • The Hall of Maps
  • Frescoed Ceiling of Sala delle Muse
  • Ceiling Detail - Stanza della Segnatura
Preview Description
There is no better time to discover the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms and the other masterpieces of the Vatican Museums than the hours of the sunset. The magic light of the evening helps appreciating the most important artworks, as our Vatican expert will guide you through the stories and the ideas which makes them alive.

Enjoy this fascinating opportunity Friday and Saturday evenings with our Vatican Night Tour.
Discover the masterpieces of the Vatican in the magical atmosphere of a Roman night

Only rarely are the Vatican Museums open at this unusual hour. This Vatican group tour is a fascinating opportunity to visit these palaces and their artworks in the calm of the night, enveloped in an intimacy that emanates from the dark of the gardens illuminated only by torches. In this magical atmosphere we will take an impassioned voyage into history and art, religion and politics; an intense experience of a careful selection of artworks that will help you comprehend the events and the ideas of the time, and meet the popes who commissioned them along with the artists who created them.

Retracing the lives of the great artists and the important political and religious figures who commissioned them will be the best way to reconstruct the city of politics, ideals, and daily life in which the masterpieces that we will encounter were produced. This will make it possible to discern something of the inspirations and passions that animated Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Bernini, and to comprehend the meaning of their works, the sense they had for their contemporaries, and what they tell us today after centuries. Optimizing your time with a well-planned itinerary, this Vatican group tour will make it easier to follow the evolution of the rituals, institutions, and forms of art within our society, from the past until today, helping us better comprehend the present through the perspective of the past.

The Historical Context

The Vatican Museums occupy a vast portion of the papal palaces and, in addition to being in and of themselves precious works of architecture, they house many masterpieces in the very locations the popes desired, and for which they created these structures over the centuries. The long history of construction of these palaces and the new Basilica began with the return of the popes to Rome after more than a century of absence from the city. Led by Martin V in 1420, and driven by a desire to bring an end to the degradation of the city whose population had dropped below 20,000 inhabitants (from about one million in the 1st century A.D.) and whose former glory had all but vanished, the Church and the powerful Romans initiated the Renovatio Urbis, the renovation of the city. This renovation was only one of many sweeping the cities of the Italian Renaissance and bringing significant change to all fields of knowledge, art, and daily life. From the invention of the printing press to the maps that permitted Columbus to cross the ocean and reach America, from the laws of perspective to gun powder, from the techniques that allowed Brunelleschi to construct the dome of the Florence Cathedral and Michelangelo the one at St. Peter's, to the loves of famous prostitutes and courtesans, we're talking about the Renaissance. The Renaissance is a time of renewal and discovery, and we in our turn will rediscover this fascinating history on our Vatican group tours.

The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums possess one of the world's richest collections of Greek and Roman art, thanks to the unbridled passions that, from the Renaissance onward, led the popes to amass ancient artworks. Here we will accompany you in fascinating adventures of discovery, introducing you to works of great beauty like the Laocoon, the Apollo Belvedere, and dozens of others, helping you understand their original meaning and, at times, their secrets. Between the Courtyard of the Pinecone, the Belvedere Courtyard, and the Gallery of the Candelabra, and from the Belvedere Torso to the many statues that merit our attention, the journey we will undertake on this Vatican group tour is captivating. The same fascinating journey was made by the men of the Renaissance who gathered around the tables luxuriously set by popes and princes. Between rivers of wine and refined dishes, artists and courtesans, philosophers and cardinals discussed the works of the ancients, the new and surprising finds of ancient statues, and the great undertakings of the day like the construction of the new basilica within the old one.

We will also see the sarcophagi of Helen and Costanza, mother and daughter of the emperor Constantine. Made of red porphyry, they are carved with symbols from Christianity at its origins. We will come across stunning works in the Hall of Maps and the Gallery of Tapestries, all the while uncovering the history of these sumptuous and often spectacular palaces.

The Raphael Rooms (the Stanze) and the Sistine Chapel vault by Michelangelo will of course represent the high point of our journey and by the time we arrive there, you will be well versed in who these artists were, what they thought, how they lived, what their ideals and passions were, their extravagances and weaknesses. Thus it will be easy to immerse yourself in the figures and the histories painted in these frescoes, to fully understand their meaning and enjoy their beauty. On this group tour of the Vatican we will consider ideas such as what made it possible for sensual and even nude figures to be painted in the pope's chapel, we will tell you of the legends—true and false—of their creation, as for instance the false legend that Michelangelo painted his famous ceiling by himself, a story circulated by people unfamiliar with the technique of fresco and with the letters the artist himself wrote on the subject. We will also discuss the competition between these two geniuses of the Renaissance in the court of the pope Julius II, himself a complex character capable of terrible excesses of anger. But at its heart the Renaissance was a time of beauty, a time when the beauty of the body and the spirit were finally united. Join us on one of our Vatican walking tours to discover it.
Activity Level
As this is a walking tour with steps and staircases, comfortable walking shoes and a bottle of water are strongly recommended.

Wheelchairs and motorised scooters are not permitted on this group tour.
Places Visited
Pinacoteca The new Vatican Pinacoteca (Art Gallery) was inaugurated on 27 October 1932 in the building especially constructed by the architect Luca Beltrami for Pius XI. It was built ... morein the nineteenth century Square Garden, isolated and completely surrounded by avenues, in a place considered suitable for assuring the best lighting conditions for both the correct preservation of the works and their optimum aesthetic enhancement. Thus the age-old question of the exhibition of the paintings, which were constantly moved around the Apostolic Palaces due to the lack of a setting that matched their importance, was solved. A first collection of only 118 precious paintings was created by Pope Pius VI around 1790. It was of short duration due to the fact that, following the Treaty of Tolentino (1797) some of the greatest masterpieces were transferred to Paris. The idea of an art gallery, understood in the modern sense as an exhibition open to the public, was only born in 1817 after the fall of Napoleon and the consequent return to the Church State of a large part of the works belonging to it, according to the directions of the Congress of Vienna. The collection continued to grow over the years through donations and purchases until it reached the current nucleus of 460 paintings, distributed among the eighteen rooms on the basis of chronology and school, from the so-called Primitives (12th - 13th century) to the 19th century. The collection contains some masterpieces of the greatest artists of the history of Italian painting, from Giotto to Beato Angelico, from Melozzo da Forlì to Perugino and to Raphael, from Leonardo to Tiziano, to Veronese, to Caravaggio and to Crespi.
Attraction, Cultural, Historic, Museum
Bathroom, Drinking water
  • 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.
Attraction, Cultural, Historic, Museum
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.
Attraction, Cultural, 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.
Attraction, Historic, Museum
Minimum Guests:
1 person
AdultGroup Tour
Ages 18+
Ages 18 to 24
Ages 6 to 17
Ages 5 and under
Check In Location
Check In Details
You will meet you guide at the the flower stand on the corner of Via Giulio Cesare and Via Leone IV. They will have a Through Eternity sign.
Payment & Cancellation
Cancellation Policy
Custom policy
  • Cancellations made 15 days before will be refunded 56% of the amount paid.
  • Cancellations made at a later date will not be refunded.
6 reviews   2 comments
Was the tour accurately described on the webiste? In other words did it meet your expectations?
(5.0 of 5)
July 2022
We very much enjoyed our tour with Federica. She was a wealth of knowledge and was a great story teller. I had done a tour of the Vatican Museums before and it was not even close to as good as this tour. You could spend a day in the Vatican Museums. If you are a museum junkie, then this tour is not for you. Just do it yourself. But if you are not a museum junkie and just want to see the highlights ... more and have an expert tell you great stories than you will love this tour. You will hit all of the important parts of the museum and get a sense of what exactly you are looking at. Book this tour.
Michael F
Hello Michael - We are so happy to hear that you enjoyed your tour of the Vatican with Federica. She is indeed a great guide and storyteller. There is truly so much to see at the Vatican. We hope to see you in Rome again soon!
I very much enjoyed my tour with Federica. She was engaging, funny, and exceptionally well informed. She shared just the right amount of information and even though I've done a tour of the Vatican before, I still learned new things from her. My family also had a fantastic time on the tour. I wish we had enough time to do more tours with her! I would most certainly recommend her and Through Eternity ... more tours.
The night tour is a great way to bet the crowds during the day. This was my 3rd Vatican tour and I learned a ton and I loved that we got to go in the gardens and listen to the music.
Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by John Tinto. He remember our names and we felt welcomed! John and the tour were excellent. John is very knowledgeable and is a highly motivated guide. You can tell that he is extremely passionate of what he does and knows the history very well. My husband and I learned a lot in this tour. All respect for John who does a great job; a true sample of an excellent ... more tour guide! Many thanks again and I recommend John Tinto to everyone!
John Tinto was so informative! We visited as a family of five on a Friday night tour. If we didn't go with John, I truly don't believe we would have learned and appreciated so much about the Vatican. Due to all his advice, we were able to actually see the Pope on the Sunday after our visit to the Vatican! This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and would not have been possible with John's ... more insights. Thank you so much for a fantastic tour!
Top notch in every way. Our guide is a gentleman in every sense of the word, very personable and knows EVERYTHING: cultural anthropology, art history, church history, geology, how these great artistic works were made, by whom, where and question stumped him! He made an effort to engage with every tour member and ensure their Vatican Museum experience was perfect. Highest rating! Please ... more note that I do not want any comments or my name published. Feedback is for your information and as a shout out for John only. Thank you!!!
Annette V
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