On advice from other travellers who had been to Rome we got up bright an early to join the queue at the Vatican. It wasn’t a long wait (perhaps an hour or so) and we were through the turnstiles and into the Pope’s headquarters.
Admittedly Simon and I were only intersted in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel but on the way we took in some of the other artworks. One of my favourite galleries was the Gallery of Maps, with its spectaular painted ceiling and walls covered with brightly painted maps. There were far too many works for me to cover in this small overview, ranging from paintings, to tapestries, sculputres and furntiture pieces. The museum also has a small modern art collection.
The Sistine Chapel was quite something, far more colourful than I expected. It was a little strange being in a room with three hundred other people and four guards trying to maintain silence, but they were very effective ‘Shooshers’. It is quite remarkable that Michelangelo, the same man who executed fine scuplting was also a detailed and accurate painter. Most artists these days dedicate their time to one medium, and even one style within that medium, whereas Michelangelo and other Renaissance artists where extremely proficient in a number of areas.
My overall impression of the Vatican Museums is that it is one hell of a money earner. There were so many people going through the gates and at every turn there was a vendor with rosary beads, posters, statues and pictures of religious scenes and 2008 calendars of the Pope. This is certainly not a spritual experience, but does give a good glimpse into a history that has shaped the world.