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The Sistine Chapel is the most famous chapel in the world. I remember studying its frescoes and paintings in school. It was with great joy that we were able to visit it during our trip to Rome. Find out everything you need to know to plan your visit.

The Sistine Chapel: some facts

I’m not going to give you a history lesson, but I think it’s essential to start this article with some historic facts about the Chapel.

Built in the 15th century, it is the main chapel of the Vatican City. Its fame is due to the extraordinary beauty of its frescoes. The most highlighted are those drawn by the artist Michelangelo covering the vault and one of the walls.

Other artists have worked in the Sistine Chapel such as Sandro Botticelli, Pinturicchio, Pietro Perugino …

It is important to know that some frescoes have evolved several times over the centuries. For example, our guide explained to us that some paintings made by Michelangelo, who used to paint his characters naked, were modified several centuries after their realization (clothes were added).

The frescoes are in magnificent condition. They were completely restored between 1979 and 1999. On one wall, you have the Stories of Moses and on the other, the Stories of Jesus Christ. There are also portraits of popes.

The most famous part is probably the Last Judgment painted by Michelangelo on the back wall of the altar.

last judgment sistine chapel
The Last Judgment covers the entire wall above the altar.

Today, the Chapel, along with St. Peter’s Basilica, is one of the most important places to visit when you are in the Vatican. More than 10,000 people visit it every day.


Where is the Sistine Chapel?

The Sistine Chapel is in the Vatican Museums. You need to purchase tickets for the museums to enter the chapel.

How much does a visit to the Sistine Chapel cost?

The price varies according to the offer.

With Amélie, we paid €34/person for a guided tour of the Vatican museums and access to the Sistine Chapel.

The price of a simple entrance to the Museums and the Sistine Chapel, without a guide, is €17.

There are also more expensive, but very interesting packages that allow you to enter the Chapel with a small group of people before the “official” opening of the museums. Of course, your visit starts very early in the morning, but to enjoy a privileged moment in such a place is worth it!

Check out the current price on GetyourGuide.

What are the opening hours of the Sistine Chapel?

The Sistine Chapel has the same opening hours as the other Vatican museums.

From Monday to Saturday, it is open from 9a.m. to 6p.m. (the last entrance to the museums is at 4p.m.).

From mid-April to the end of October, there is an extended opening until 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays (last entry at 8:30 p.m.).

Can I take pictures in the Sistine Chapel?

Unfortunately, not. In all the other Vatican museums, you can take pictures. But in the Sistine Chapel, you are not allowed to talk and take pictures or videos.

Of course, as always, there are tourists who don’t respect the rules and get caught by security.

We didn’t take any and that’s why the pictures in this article are taken either from the information panels outside the chapel or from the Vatican website.

A guided tour gives you useful information before entering the Chapel

Our museums guided tour

began on an interactive terminal. For about ten minutes, the guide explained the history of the Sistine Chapel and the works. Being able to zoom in on the pictures, she showed very interesting details about the paintings. Without this information, we would not have known how to really look at the works. There are so many things to see that your brain and eyes are lost!

sistine chapel ceiling
During the guided tour, we had a detailed presentation of the enormous fresco of Michelangelo.

This information is given in advance. Your guide can’t follow you into the Chapel, which is logical since silence is required in the Chapel.

Real wealth of information , a guide is indispensable for any visit to the Vatican Museums.

Some tips for visiting the Sistine Chapel and making the most of it

Don’t go into the Chapel without preparation. If you have a guided tour, that’s fine. Otherwise, take the time to read about the chapel on the web or in books. Without this background, you may miss out on your visit and as this is often a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, it would be a shame to “waste” it.

Be aware that there are some comprehensive computer panels on the Chapel… in the outdoor area of the Vatican Museums. It’s an odd choice of location but consider consulting them before the visit if you feel unfamiliar with the masterpieces you’re about to see.

Another good tip for preparing your visit… is to do it virtually! The Vatican website allows you to do so on this page: With your mouse, you can even zoom in very precisely.

When you enter the Chapel, you have to follow some rules. You enter through one door and exit through the other at the back of the room. On the sides, you can walk, while the center of the room is made for standing and observing the frescoes.

So with Amélie, we immediately went to the middle so as not to disturb the people who were moving forward and especially to admire the paintings. It is difficult to take one’s ease because the room is literally crowded. If you walk with your head in the air, you will bump into another visitor in less than two seconds… And if you don’t like the crowd, try to forget it for a few minutes, but it won’t be easy!

For a practical observation, start with the wall on the front door. This is the Last Judgment.

Then, walk slowly through the Sistine Chapel looking at the life of Christ on one side and the life of Moses on the other. At the top of these life scenes, you have the portraits of popes.

sistine chapel paintings
The portraits of the popes are located above the life scenes of Moses and Jesus.

Also look up to see Michelangelo’s enormous fresco on the vault.

For a perfect visit, it would be better to be able to make several walks in the Sistine Chapel to admire one work, then another (the life scenes, then the portraits, then the vault…), but with the crowd present, this is not possible.

As I said before, don’t take pictures, uncover your head (you are in a chapel) and don’t speak loudly. Security is constantly in the room and during our visit, we had several messages on the microphone asking for silence and saw several people being called to order individually.

When you are two thirds of the way through the Chapel, there is a divider with a door. Don’t end your visit right away after passing through it, there are still paintings to admire, and they are all as beautiful as the first ones.


The Sistine Chapel is a major work of art in the history of Christianity. It alone would be well worth the purchase of a ticket to the Vatican Museums!


As a professional blogger, I take advantage of my flexible schedule to travel a lot. I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list!