During our guided tour of the most famous Vatican museums, our guide strongly advised us to visit the Carriage Pavilion. Less frequented and quiet, the Pavilion is a small and very pleasant museum in the Vatican.
What is the Carriage Pavilion?
The Carriage Pavilion is one of the museums in the Vatican. It was inaugurated in 1973. It exhibits the carriages and cars used by the Pope during his travels.
What do we see in the Carriage Pavilion?
Several centuries of history can be seen in the Carriage Pavilion. With Amélie, we entered by the exit… But, if you start the tour at the right place, you advance chronologically.
The first carriage you will see is, by far, the most impressive. It is the Grand Gala Berlin built between 1824 and 1826 for popes Leo XII and Gregory XVI. Several horses are at the front. They are attached to a beautiful golden carriage.
Other famous carriages are to be admired as the carriage of the cardinal Lucien Louis Bonaparte, the travel carriage of Ferdinand II, the carriage of Gala with a throne…
At the beginning of the museum, you can also see the horse saddles on which the Pope rode, as well as the sedan chairs.
For a third of the museum, you are taken back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance with carriages and saddles. Then, you see the Pope’s cars. Small cars, big cars with a throne in the back, limousine… The choice is considerable. We were more surprised by the beauty of the old carriages, but the contemporary part is still pretty, especially the big “Papamobiles”.
In addition to the vehicles, you have various accessories such as guards’ outfits, paintings, a Ferrari steering wheel (offered to the pope by the F1 team)…
There is also a video on a screen that relates the attack suffered by John Paul II in 1981. This screen is where the vehicle in which he was driving during this incident is exhibited. If you have lived through this moment or have seen the assassination attempt on video, emotions will come to you.
How much does it cost to visit the Carriage Pavilion?
The visit to the Carriage Pavilion is included in the price of your tickets. So whether you book a self-guided tour of the Vatican Museums, a guided tour, or a premium experience, you can visit the Carriage Pavilion.
There are no ticket checks at the entrance as you are in an area of the Pavilion that is only accessible to those who have already paid and passed through security.
Where is the Carriage Pavilion in the Vatican?
To access the Vatican Museums, you must enter with your tickets at the Viale Vaticano.
We did our guided tour of the main museums and galleries before going to the Carriage Pavilion. But if you are on a self-guided tour, you can go directly to the Pavilion.
The entrance is in the Giardino Quadrato. Like many museums in the Vatican, there are few signs to indicate it, so it’s up to you to remember that it’s there.
To help you, here is a Google map with the Carriage Pavilion framed in red:
What are the opening hours of the Carriage Pavilion Museum?
The Pavilion is opening the same hours as the other Vatican Museums, Monday through Saturday from 9a.m. to 6p.m.
The opening of the Museums is extended from mid-April to the end of October on Fridays and Saturdays (closing at 10:30 p.m.).
A word of advice: there are sometimes temporary closures of certain parts of the museums. You can find them on the museivaticani.va website. So, if you absolutely want to see the Pavilion, check before your visit that it will be open.
How long does a visit to the Carriage Pavilion last?
The Carriage Pavilion is relatively small. For the quicker tourists, the visit lasts about 15 minutes.
With Amélie, we took the time to read several signs and take pictures. The visit lasted about 30 minutes.
Highlights of the visit of the Carriage Pavilion
- Exceptional carriages.
- An atypical museum of the Vatican compared to the others.
- The Pavilion is not crowded. It’s nice to find some peace and quiet and to enjoy the clement temperature of the garage.
Lowlights of the Carriage Pavilion
- The visit is quick.
- The entrance is not well indicated, even when you are in the surrounding garden.
- Some objects are displayed in showcases several meters away from the cordon, which does not offer a good visibility.
To conclude, here are some pictures of carriages and cars visible in the Pavilion:
In conclusion, it is likely that the Sistine Chapel or St. Peter’s Basilica will impress you more during your visit to Vatican City. Nevertheless, the quietness of the place, the surprise in front of luxurious carriages from the Middle Ages and the speed of the visit plead for a tour of the Carriage Pavilion.