Early Morning Vatican Tour
— Visiting the Vatican Before General Admission
OUR EARLY MORNING VATICAN TOUR
Join our Early Morning Vatican Small Group Tour and beat the crowds! Be joined by one of our selected, experienced guides and enter the Vatican Museums at 8 o’clock, one hour before the regular opening – you will be sure to explore the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel when they’re least crowded. Skip-the-line entry fees are included in the price!
A visit to the Vatican, the seat of the papacy and one of the biggest collection of Museums in the world, is certainly on the wish list of most people visiting Rome. Despite being the smallest country in the world, Vatican City is a powerful and independent state that can boast the most important edifice of the Catholic Church, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and countless masterpieces collected by the Papacy during the centuries.
No wonder the Vatican is crammed with visitors everyday — 6 million people entered the Museums and the Sistin Chapel in 2017 alone. Especially in the high season, buying skip-the-line tickets is not enough to save your precious time and enjoy a memorable visit of the Vatican Galleries.
If you want to explore the Vatican and St. Peter’s away from the big, daily crowds, choose our 3-hour Early Morning Vatican Experience. You will enter the Vatican Museums at 8am, on hour before the general opening at 9 am. One of our selected, local guides will lead you through the maze of the Vatican galleries, inside the Sistine Chapel and in the heart of the Papacy, St. Peter’s Basilica. To make the visit even more special, you will be joining an intimate group of maximum 12 people, so that you can easily hear and interact with your guide. Book today our Early Morning Vatican Tour and live an experience you’ll never forget.
A LABYRINTH OF CORRIDORS AND ROOMS
The Vatican Museums host one of the world’s biggest art collections, displayed on around 4.5 miles of halls and corridors.
One of the most appreciated masterpieces in the Vatican Museums: The Laocoon GroupOver 70,000 works of art are on display and countless more are tucked away in its huge archives. Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, this huge collection was later enlarged by successive pontiffs who added all kinds of artefacts from ancient busts to precious tapestries and priceless paintings of old and modern masters. Visiting all the rooms and corridors on a single visit would be impossible and it is quite difficult to select the best things to see on your own. This is why we only select the best guides to run our Vatican Tours – you will be sure you cover all the highlights of the Vatican Museums – all the frescoes, statues and paintings you really should not miss! These include the spectacular collection of classical statuary in the Pio-Clementino Museum, the beautiful rooms frescoed by Raphael, and, of course, the Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel.
The Vatican State is the smallest country in the world. Inside its 44 hectares, the Vatican houses St. Peter’s Basilica and the halls and galleries of the Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano. This huge complex can be divided into two palaces – the original Vatican palace, lying near to St Peter’s Basilica, and the Palazzetto di Belvedere – both palaces are joined by two long galleries. When walking from one hall of the Museum to the other you will see three courtyards: the Cortile della Pigna (Pinecone Courtyard), the Cortile della Biblioteca (Library Courtyard) and the Cortile del Belvedere (Belvedere Courtyard).
When touring the Vatican with Roma Experience, you will follow an itinerary planned by our best guides. In this way, you will be sure you cover all the must-sees in 3 hours – and with our Early Entrance Vatican Tour you’ll enjoy your visit even more – Less crowd, more space and time to walk and admire the halls of the Vatican Museums!
One of the biggest collections housed in the Vatican is the Pio-Clementino Museum. These stunning rooms exhibit beautiful examples of classical statuary, the most famous being the Apollo of the Belvedere and the 1st-century Laocoön located in the Octagonal Courtyard. As soon as you access the courtyard, the Apollo Belvedere will be on your left. This marble masterpiece is the beautifully-crafted 2nd-century Roman copy of a 4th-century-BC Greek bronze, representing the Greek god of the sun, Apollo. Just a few steps further you will lay your eyes on the Laocoön complex, a series of statues depicting a muscular Trojan priest and his two sons, struggling in a battle against two snakes. You’ll be left speechless by how the muscles and sinews of each of the three figures have been carefully carved out of a single piece of marble!
Back inside, you will walk in the Sala degli Animali (Animal’s Room), filled with sculpted creatures and stunning 4th-century mosaics and in the Sala delle Muse (Muses’ Room), house to another of the Vatican’s must-sees, the Torso of the Belvedere. This statue is what is left of a muscular 1st-century-BC Greek sculpture, discovered in the centre of Rome in the 15th century. The contorted pose of the body and the realism of his musculature made the statue influential on Renaissance, Mannerist, and Baroque artists, including Michelangelo and Raphael. Michelangelo, in particular, studied the Torso of the Belvedere so deeply that the statue started to be referred to as “The School of Michelangelo”, as the artist used it as a model for his ignudi (male nudes) in the Sistine Chapel’s frescoes.
Following the Muses’ Room is the Sala Rotonda (Round Room), displaying a number of colossal statues and an exquisite floor mosaic. Loved by kids and adults alike is the enormous basin occupying the centre of the room. This round basin made of red porphyry stone was found at Nero’s Palace (Domus Aurea), near the Colosseum. This is believed to have been used by Emperor’s Nero as his personal bathtub – its red, purplish porphyry was very similar to the red extracted by seashells. Romans used it to dye the dresses of the Roman Ancient Roman Senators, making this red a symbol of a wealthy status.
Time to reach the western side of the Vatican Museums and enter the Gallery of the Candelabra. Once called simply “Gallery of the Miscellanea”, it gained its new name when architects adorned it with marble candelabra at the end of the 18th century. Around 500 artefacts are displayed in the 6 sections of this gallery – statues, frescoes, sarcophagi and much more. Next to the Gallery of the Candelabra is the Tapestry Gallery, a 120m-long corridor where 40 16th-century topographical maps of Italy have been hung on its walls.
One more unmissable location in our Vatican Tour itinerary are the 4 rooms frescoed by Raphael. Once used as Pope Julius II’s private apartments, the Renaissance master painted the Stanza della Segnatura (1508–11) and Stanza d’Eliodoro (1512–14) himself, while the Stanza dell’Incendio (1514–17) and Sala di Costantino (1517–24) were decorated by some of his students, helped by his designs. The Raphael rooms are stunning and if you love the art of painting it will be the highlight of your Early Morning Vatican Tour.
LOSE YOURSELF IN THE STUNNING SISTINE CHAPEL
During our tour of the Vatican we will visit The Sistine Chapel, dreamed up by 33-year-old Michelangelo, whose iconic frescoes depicting The Last Judgment and The Creation of Adam are some of the most easily recognizable images in Western culture. The Sistine Chapel, named after Pope Sixtus IV (Sisto in Italian), the man who built it, represents one of the most accomplished examples of High Renaissance Art. Completed over four years by Michelangelo at the request of Pope Julius II, the frescoes, especially The Last Judgment and The Creation of Adam have secured a place in art books as well as in popular culture. That simple yet powerful gesture by which God, depicted for the first time as a muscular figure, gives life to Adam by extending his finger is today one of the most iconic images one can think of. With its paintings covering 12,000 sq ft (1,110 sq m), the Sistine Chapel, whose 500th anniversary was marked in 2012, is until today pope’s private chapel and has served as the sole location of papal elections since 1870. With our licensed guides you will be able to skip the line again and reach St Peter’s Basilica through a dedicated corridor. Individual visitors need to exit from a secondary entrance and do not have access to the basilica unless they go all the way back to St Peter’s square to line up again, waiting to enter the Basilica. Without wasting time, we enter the basilica via the Sistine Chapel.
ST PETER’S BASILICA & SQUARE
Together, Saint Peter’s Basilica (built 1506 -1615) and the Square located in front of it represent important symbols of Christendom. Built on the Vatican Hill, a highly symbolic location, they mark the place where Saint Peter, considered the first pontiff, died a martyr in 64 AD. His tomb, located just under the altar, is a major objective for pilgrims and has been so for millennia. Built over a hundred years, the Basilica as well as the Square required the talent and skill of some of the most brilliant minds of the Renaissance. Donato Bramante was the church’s first chief architect and designed the plans that Michelangelo—who added the dome—later built on, Bernini designed St. Peter’s Square and enriched its colonnade with statues, and several others extended and completed their work. Today, the church featuring a 185 meters long and 46 meters tall nave and an impressive 119 meters tall dome can accommodate a congregation of 60,000. Among the art and sculpture treasures it hosts, Michelangelo’s magnificent Pietà, a sculpture depicting Mary mourning over her beloved son whom she holds in her arms, is a seminal work of High Renaissance and one of great sensitivity. The beautifully decorated Chapel of the Sacrament and the bronze baldacchino sculpted by Bernini are but two of the church’s many attractions.
*on rare occasions St Peter’s Basilica might be closed without prior notification. In this event, we will spend more time inside the Museum and Sistine Chapel.
INFO ABOUT OUR VATICAN TOUR
Meeting Time: 7:30am
Everyday except Wednesdays and Sundays
Meeting Place: at a central Location near the Vatican (full details provided after booking)
**Vatican Museums are equipped with elevators for wheelchair access, but please be aware that elevators are not conveniently located on the group tour route. We encourage those with mobility problems to book a private tour, in order to allow the guide to adapt the pace to their specific needs.
From April through September you can also visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel at night with our Tour of VATICAN AT NIGHT, available on Fridays.