On the north side of the world's smallest country, nestled into the tall walls of Vatican city, is the entrance to the Vatican Museums. Home to numerous pieces of artwork from The School of Athens
to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, this collection or artwork is unlike any other. This Vatican collection has existed in various forms since the 1400s. Though there was initially some desire to keep the Christian and pagan art separate, they now occupy the same tour. The Vatican Museums are enormous and feature dozens of passages leading through work of pagan and Christian significance from the last 2000 years and beyond. One section of the Museums is the Raphael Rooms. In the 1500s this was the residence of Pope Julius II and the Pope asked the painter to decorate it according to his specifications. In addition to The School of Athens
, this gallery features the fascinating painting Triumph of Christianity
where Christ's crucifix has broken the pagan idols and replaced them on their pedestal.
Another of the wings of this gallery is the Egyptian Museum which was moved to the Vatican in the 70's. According to their website, "It contains Greek original works, Roman copies and sculptures dating from the 1st to the 3rd c. A.D" as well as non-Catholic architectural models such as Beijing’s Temple of the Sky. The Vatican Museum also features Etruscan artwork from before the Romans, as well as the Gallery of Tapestries, Gallery of Maps, Chariot Room, and more.
Though one of the most tourist-infested corners of Rome, the Vatican Museums are an unskippable experience for those who have the resources to visit.
The Vatican Collections: The Papacy and Art By Metropolitan Museum of Art