Designed by Donato Bramante, the Pinecone Courtyard was originally part of the Cortile del Belvedere. The Pigna (pine cone) was originally situated next to the Temple of Isis, and was moved during the middle ages to Old St. Peter's Basilica before being moved again to its current location in 1608.
About your tour
Wander the incredible halls in the early morning and gaze upon Michelangelo’s breathtaking masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, before the doors open to the general public!
We will pick you up from your hotel at 7AM and take you to our Vatican office, where you will meet our expert guide. You will then be driven straight to the entrance of the museums for skip the line privileged 8AM entry.
ONCE YOU HAVE MADE YOUR BOOKING, A MEMBER OF OUR TEAM WILL BE IN TOUCH TO ORGANIZE YOUR LUXURY CAR PICK-UP.
Top tour highlights
The Cabinet of the Masks is a mosaic depicting masks used in ancient theater, which forms part of the floor of the Pio Clementino Museum. Designed by Michelangelo Simonetti, the room includes some beautiful statues such as the Greek Goddess Aphrodite and the Three Graces.
The Round Room, shaped like the Pantheon, includes colossal statues, with ancient mosaics on the floor, and a 13 meter red porphyry basin. The Hall of the Muses includes sculptures of Appolo and the Nine Muses which were discovered in the Villa of Cassius near Tivoli, dating back to the time of Emperor Hadrian.
The Gallery of Candelabra displays huge marble candelabra, and is divided in to six sections of the exhibition arranged under Pope Pius VI Braschi from 1785 to 1788. The Chariot Room contains a large marble Roman chariot and two horses and was restored in 1788.
The gallery includes Flemish tapestries by Pieter van Aelst's School, which were first shown in the Sistine Chapel in 1531, then arranged for the gallery and hung from the walls for the Vatican Museums in 1838. You will also find 17th century tapestries created in Rome for Pope Urban VIII (Barberini).
The Gallery of the Maps takes its name from 40 maps frescoed on the walls, commissioned in 1580 by Pope Gregory XIII, and the maps were painted between 1580 and 1585 based on drawings by Danti.
The Raphael Rooms consist of four rooms known as the Stanze of Raphael, and form a reception in the public area of the Pontifical Palace of the Vatican. The rooms were decorated by Raphael and his school, decorated with frescos between 1508 and 1524.
Part of the Apostolic Palace (the Pope's official residence), the Sistine Chapel was decorated by Michelangelo who painted the ceiling, depicting scenes from the Book of Genesis. The chapel also includes other leading artworks by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli and Pietro Perugino, as well as large tapestries by Raphael.
St Peter’s Basilica was built on the site where Saint Peter was buried in 64 AD over a 4th century church, taking 120 years to complete, and was consecrated n 1626. Being Italy’s largest basilica, until recently this was the largest church in the world, designed by Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, Donato Bramante and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.