The Pinecone Courtyard was originally part of the Cortile del Belvedere and designed by Donato Bramante. The famous Pigna (pine cone) once stood close to the Pantheon next to the Temple of Isis, and during the Middle Ages, it was moved to the Old St. Peter's Basilica before being moved again in 1608 to its current location.
Vatican Off-Limits tour
The main highlight of the tour you will have 30 minutes inside the Sistine Chapel just for our group (max 15 people), where our guide will explain in detail this cavernous and vividly coloured painted chapel which to this day is considered one of man's greatest artistic achievements.
This tour is extremely limited. Please call or email us for availability.
Top tour highlights
Top tour highlights
Scala del Bramante / the Bramante Staircase, was once an entrance to the Papal apartments, and was built large enough to accommodate large animals as mules to transport items and goods through the palace. The staircase is shaped like a curved double-helix carved from stone, designed by Donato Bramante.
The Cabinet of the Masks is a mosaic which forms part of the floor of the Pio Clementino Museum, and depicts masks which were used in ancient theatre. The museum was designed by Michelangelo, and also includes beautiful statues such as the Greek Goddess Aphrodite and The Three Graces.
The Round Room takes its shape from the Pantheon, and has colossal statues on display around a 13 meter red porphyry basin, and also includes ancient mosaics on the floor. The Hall of the Muses shows ancient sculptures of Appolo and the Nine Muses dating back to the times of Hadrian, and originally discovered in the Villa of Cassius near Tivoli.
The Gallery of Candelabra contains huge marble candelabra, consisting of an exhibition divided into six, and arranged under Pope Pius VI Braschi from 1785 to 1788. The Chariot Room contains a large marble Roman chariot with two horses, restored in 1788.
The Gallery of the Tapestries includes Flemish tapestries by Pieter van Aelst's School in Brussels, originally displayed in the Sistine Chapel in 1531, and then arranged for the Vatican Museum gallery in 1838. The gallery also includes Roman works originally woven for Pope Urban VIII (Barberini).
Based on drawings by Danti and commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII, the Gallery of the Maps displays 40 maps frescoed on the walls and was painted between 1580 and 1585.
The Nicholas V Chapel, known as the Niccoline Chapel is situated at the heart of theApostolic Palace and is renowned for its frescoes by Fra Angelico (1447–1451).
The Sistine Chapel is part of the Apostolic Palace (the Pope's official residence), and its famous ceiling was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, which depicts scenes from the Book of Genesis. This spectacular chapel also includes artworks by leading painters such as Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Pietro Perugino, as well as large tapestries by Raphael.