Alone in the Sistine Chapel: VIP Vatican Tours
Our exclusive VIP Vatican Tours give you the chance to experience a Sistine Chapel empty of its usual crowds. Visit the Sistine Chapel on an early morning tour or the Vatican after hours, depending on whether you join a tour at 6:00am or 3:15pm. Both of the tours allow you to choose between a completely private experience in the Sistine Chapel or to join a small tour group of no more than twenty, in a mostly secluded Sistine Chapel.
See the masterful frescoes of Michelangelo like you’ve never seen them before in The Sistine Chapel, emptied of its normal crowd of tourists.
Sistine Chapel Tour Summary
What if you could stand in The Sistine Chapel, under Michelangelo’s masterpiece, The Creation of Adam, with no-one else around? Only you, your loved ones and a tour guide?
Throughout history, only Popes and Princes have had the privilege of seeing The Sistine Chapel in solitude – until now. Roma Experience now offer exclusive Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums tours, so you can see the Sistine Chapel in total privacy, or within a small group.
Our VIP Vatican Tours includes access to many parts of the museum normally closed to the public. See all the highlights of the main collection and get behind the locked doors of some of the most beautiful rooms in the Vatican Museums.
Experience parts of the Vatican Museum people rarely see, and marvel at Michelangelo’s creative genius under his masterpiece, The Last Judgement, in a quiet Sistine Chapel with no crowds.
The Wonders of the Vatican Museums
There are over 1,200 rooms in the Vatican Museum and the whole history of the world at your fingertips. Whether you are interested in obscure Jewish history or contemporary Catholic art, there is an artefact for every taste.
Take in the spectacular art of the High Renaissance in the grand halls, apartments and labyrinthian corridors of the Vatican museum. From the refined frescoes of Pinturicchio in the Borgia apartments, to the grandeur of the Raphael Rooms, through to the charming novelty of the Gallery of Maps, the Vatican museum will paint a picture of how lively a Renaissance court it once was.
The Vatican Museums contain a staggering range and quality of ancient sculpture. Marvel at the craftsmanship of the iconic Laocoön and His Sons, and tremble beneath the Belvedere Torso, a fractured masterpiece that’s still potently masculine and powerful.
Discover the Secrets of the Vatican Museums Collections
There are many magnificent rooms in the Vatican Museums that are usually kept out of the public eye. Perhaps the Pope likes to enjoy parts of the collection without being disturbed; perhaps these rooms are spared from the usually heavy footfall from tourists for conservation reason.
Whatever the cause, there are many treasures behind locked doors that you can only see on Vatican VIP tours. We’ll gladly introduce you to some of the hidden secrets of the Vatican Museums.
The Bramante Staircase
Before you think, ‘That’s no secret; I’ve walked down the Bramante Staircase in the public collection of The Vatican!’ You would be right – and wrong. The modern Bramante Staircase is an architectural triumph in and of itself, and guides the visiting crowds in and out of The Vatican Museums. However, there is an original, 16th century staircase, hidden behind closed doors, a marvelous and evocative piece of interior architecture.
The original Bramante Staircase was designed by an architect of the same name, Bramante. The staircase was built to connect Pope Julius II’s residence, the Belvedere Palace, with the outside world, and was large enough for a carriage ascend. Bramante developed a design that would allow the paths of the ascenders and descenders never to cross, much to the amazement of architects of the age.
Today, many lovers of art and science delight in just how much The Bramante Staircase resembles a double-helix, a strand of human DNA. Of course, there was no way for Bramante to have known that in the Renaissance, but today, the staircase appears a subtle peon to humanism, as it enchants in its warm orange and yellow tones, supported all the while by elegant Doric columns.
The Niccoline Chapel
In 1447, Pope Nicholas V commissioned Fra Angelico to decorate a pre-existing mediaeval chapel, within the Vatican Walls. At that time, the significance of these works may or may not have been lost on its Papal audience, but today, we can clearly see how these particular frescos mark a turning point in Christian art and thought. These frescoes articulate a particular branch of Christian Humanism, first sprung from Tuscan soil and hitherto unseen in Rome, that was about to spread across the Italy and, later, the world.
Scenes from the lives of the early saints St. Stephen and St. Lawrence do not depict men in the early days of Christianity, in a Roman Empire that’s catastrophically unravelling. Instead, they show scenes from Renaissance civilization. Despite the violent deaths that met both saints, the most prominent scenes show them moving through the city state, and attending meetings with peers, in clothes that would have been fashionable in the 15th century. The depiction of administrative figures show the resurgence of bureaucratic structures in Europe during the Renaissance period. The depiction of the Saints paying alms to the poor demonstrates the importance of Christian charity, in a world that was accelerating and becoming increasingly globalized.
Most people never get to see the masterful Niccoline Chapel, which shows Fra Angelico at the height of his creative capabilities. However, on one of our exclusive Vatican VIP tours, you’ll be able to see it for yourself.
The Cabinet of Masks
The Cabinet of Masks has delighted artists and art lovers for centuries – those who get to see it, that is. Most of the time, the Cabinet of Masks is closed to the public. The German titan of literature Goethe would spent hours in this room contemplating, in fascination, a beautiful sculpture of a nymph; she’s now known as The Ballerina of Goethe.
The Cabinet of Masks is one of the most elegant renderings of Baroque interior design the world has ever seen. The room, elegantly rendered in white and blue marble, contains many beautiful pieces of classical statuary and carefully crafted reproductions – but that’s not what most people come to see. Most visitors seek out The Cabinet of Masks to see the mosaics on the floor, from which the room gets its name. These mosaics were pilfered from the Emperor Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli, and the most remarkable among them is a depiction of the masks of actors rendered in tiles so small, they could only be made with special tools.
The Sistine Chapel: Michelangelo’s Greatest Work
Yes, the Sistine Chapel contains works by other Great Masters of the Renaissance, including Perugino, Pinturicchio and Botticelli, but people really gather to see the 12,000ft of Michelangelo’s masterful frescoes, which span from wall to wall. Botticelli may get a big crowd in Florence’s Uffizi, but in the Sistine Chapel, it’s Michelangelo’s masterpieces that draws the crowds.
There’s no mystery as to why Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel produces this effect. His expansive system of frescoes, all of which are taken from narratives in the Book of Genesis, contain some of the most evocative scenes European Art has ever produced. Of the 300 hundred characters portrayed within these frescoes, there is a multitude of human emotions; a whole life’s worth. The pain and terror on faces of condemned sinners in The Last Judgement portrays the emotional consequences of a terrible mistake so accurately, that it must stir even the hardest heart to sympathy. A more joyful image is the figure of God in Dividing Light from Darkness, an incredible affirmation of the joy in the act of creation. God reaches his muscular arms upwards, waving the darkness away and bringing in the light. To a modern viewer, it appears as though he is dancing.
How Michelangelo Painted The Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo was only relatively young when he started to paint the Sistine Chapel, at 33 years old, but he felt that the experience made him an old man. Michelangelo composed a poem about the hardship of the experience, and complained of his sufferings; ‘I’ve grown a goiter dwelling in this den… my skin grows loose and long.’ The toll it took on his body is no surprise, considering the way that Michelangelo painted The Sistine Chapel.
Michelangelo refused to allow any of the other artists in his workshop to join him in the project – a very controversial decision in that day and age. Instead, he designed a scaffold, erected it, and painted the entire ceiling and The Last Judgement himself, over a period of four years. Some sections were actually painted twice, because a mold blossomed across the first fresco. So, Michelangelo ripped the moldy wall up and started again. Michelangelo developed a new technique, that would hasten the drying time of frescoes to prevent mold spreading. Other artists adopted this new method of producing frescoes, and it was the best method to use long after the Italian High Renaissance.
When Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel was complete, it drew outrage among some members of the clergy. Some considered it inappropriate to have so much nudity in the Vatican, the most important church in Christendom. One particularly vocal critic was Biagio de Cesena, the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies. In vengeance, Michelangelo added a portrait of Cesena to the figure of Minos in hell. Cesena is portrayed with the ears of an ass, to represent his foolishness, and a coiled snake covering his groin. When Cesena complained to the Pope about this, he wittily replied that hell was not his jurisdiction.
Cesena was one of many who campaigned for the nudes in the Vatican to be covered up, and unfortunately, this campaign was successful. Drapery was fitted across the groins of Michelangelo’s original nudes and many statues throughout the Vatican had their groins covered by fig leaves. These prudish modifications can still be seen until this day. Even with these modifications, the Sistine Chapel is still one of the greatest triumphs European Civilization has ever produced – and that’s mostly thanks to the astonishing genius of Michelangelo.
Who Is The Vatican Museums’ Key Keeper?
God promised St. Peter the keys to heaven, and the Pope promised the keys to the Vatican Museums to Gianni Crea. Every morning, Mr. Crea goes and collects the over 300 historic keys from the room where they are safely housed. He then begins the process of unlocking the doors to the 100s of rooms of the Vatican Museums, and switching on the lights. The key to the Sistine Chapel is not held with the others, however. That special key, for the most special room, is kept separately – tucked inside a white envelope.
Over the course of his 7 years in the role, he’s got to spend time with some of the greatest artworks European Civilization has ever produced, in complete solitude. Crea’s ritual of getting up early, and switching on the museum’s lights, has in no way dimmed his enthusiasm for the art within The Vatican Museums walls. Today, he still talks about being moved deeply by the most iconic artworks in the museum, from the frescoes of Perugino in the Borgia Apartments, to Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He considers his job a great privilege, and of course, he is right. Now, we can offer you the chance of joining Mr. Crea as he opens the doors of the Vatican Museums each morning, a task that is both his job requirement, and the great honor of his life.
Which Sistine Chapel Experience is Right For You?
We offer two types of Sistine Chapel experiences; one is absolutely private and the other is in a small group, that will not be larger than twenty. These Sistine Chapel tours run twice a day, an early morning Vatican tour at 6am and a tour at 3:15pm. Both run for three hours, and are slightly different in tone.
On the 6am tour, with Sistine Chapel early access, you accompany the keeper of the keys for the Vatican as he turns on the lights. Follow him as he says Good Morning Vatican Museums and collects the historic keys. Then, let him and our guide take you through the labyrinthian network of corridors that make this impressive museum, home to some of the world’s greatest art. The early morning Vatican tour continues onward to a serene Sistine Chapel, as the world outside only really begins to get going. Then, enjoy a delicious American style buffet breakfast in the Courtyard of the Pine.
On the 3pm tour, let our expert local guide take you through the collections of the Vatican Museums. You will get to see parts of the collection most tourists never get a chance to, including The Cabinet of the Masks, the original Bramante Staircase and the Niccoline Chapel.
Both offer an incomparable chance to experience the Sistine Chapel without the hubbub of the daily tourists crowds. There is nothing like standing among some of the most significant artworks European civilization ever produced, in a Sistine Chapel spared from the normal noise and footfall you find there. Nothing could ruin a visit to the Sistine Chapel – not even a tumultuous tourist crowd – but the amount of visitors the chapel receives, especially during the high season, can take the shine off.
Alone in the Sistine Chapel Experience
Visit the Sistine Chapel alone for the experience of a lifetime. We offer two private Sistine Chapel Tours; one in the early morning and one in the afternoon. On both tours, you’ll be totally alone. Standing alone in the Sistine Chapel is an experience totally incomparable with any other, and one you’ll treasure forever. Most of the time, the Sistine Chapel is too full of tourists for you to picture it as it was intended to be – a place for quiet and private reflection on the wonder of creation. Time alone in the Chapel allows the power of those great artworks to overcome you.
On the private tour of the Vatican Museums, let the guide personalize the tour to your interests. You will see the main body of the collection that’s open to the public, and our guide will talk you through the most important artworks there. See two icons of classical statuary: Laocoön and His Sons, a deeply affective rendering of paternal suffering, and the fractured masterpiece the Belvedere Torso, which inspired Michelangelo’s figures for the Sistine Chapel. If you have any specialized areas of interest, such as the Jewish history of Rome or Ancient Egypt, our guide will happily incorporate them into his itinerary.
Go on to see the collections of the Vatican Museums that the public rarely sees. Our private tour of the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums collection will allow you to see parts of the Vatican Museums that are usually closed to visitors. These include the beautiful renderings of the life of the saints by Fra Angelico, in the magnificent Niccoline Chapel. Walk on the original 16th century Bramante staircase, a treasure of architecture that has puzzled and delighted art lovers by its close resemblance to human DNA. Then see the magnificent mosaics taken from Emperor Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli in the evocative, glamorous Baroque Cabinet of Masks.
Why See The Sistine Chapel Alone?
There is no better way to feel the Sistine Chapel’s true affective potential with only you and a loved one by your side. If you have been looking for the place for a fairytale romantic moment, this is it. If you’ve been waiting to ask someone that special question, and haven’t had the chance to do it, is there a better place for a proposal than a solitary Sistine Chapel?
If you want to encourage your kids to gain a greater appreciation of culture, there’s no better way to do it than letting them see the Sistine Chapel in comfortable solitude. Any child will surely be fascinated by the masterpiece of Michelangelo’s Old Testament scenes, and the frescoes of Botticelli and Perugino.
Whatever you reason for choosing a visit to the Sistine Chapel alone, you’ll find the experience has a value beyond measure – a private tour of the Sistine Chapel is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Join a Small-Group Tour and Experience a Quiet Sistine Chapel
Be stunned to silence in the Sistine Chapel, a jewel in the crown of European Civilization. A small-group tour gives you the perfect opportunity to see the Sistine Chapel in a rare peace and serenity. We offer two types of small-group, exclusive experiences in the Sistine Chapel. One is the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican After hours tour, from 3:15pm – 6:15pm, and the other is an early morning Vatican tour, from 6am – 9am. Among a maximum of twenty other people, you’ll enjoy the spacious Sistine Chapel to yourself, amidst some of the best artworks ever created.
A quiet Sistine Chapel is an incomparable experience that will move anyone deeply. People of all faiths and denominations have been stunned into wonder by the magnificent artworks on display in this masterful Chapel. Usually, only Cardinals get to see the Chapel so quiet – and that is during a fraught time, when they’re gathered to debate who will be the new Pope. Your experience will not be such a trial. Instead, relish the experience of being on holiday, and privy to one of the most beautiful places in the world in relative isolation.
Our VIP Vatican Tours At A Glance
Unlock the Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums Tour, 6am
Rise, shine and experience the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums in a way so few get to. On our early morning Vatican tour, join the key keeper as he makes his morning rounds, opening the doors of the Vatican Museums and, of course, the Sistine Chapel. Choose to join a small group tour of the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel, or see it in total privacy. Enter the Sistine Chapel as the lights come up and see it as so few ever get to see it – totally isolated, in the quiet of a solitary morning time.
Unlock the Vatican Museum
As you open the doors of the Vatican Museums, see some of their most iconic collections reveal themselves, new born and ready for the day. In isolation, it will seem as though the Philosophers of Athens are striding toward you upon entry to the Raphael Rooms. Feel like a King admiring his Kingdom as you stride across the marvelous Gallery of Maps. Many, many more of the most iconic features of this extensive collection will reveal themselves as yours alone during the early morning Vatican Museums Tour.
Early Morning Sistine Chapel Experience
The key keeper will turn the lights on and the beautiful Chapel will come to life before your eyes. Every scene from The Old Testament that Michelangelo rendered will dazzle in such clarity, it will be as if they were only painted a short five minutes ago. Allow your guide to elucidate the subtle meanings behind each detail of Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement and illuminate the secrets behind The Creation of Adam. Your guide’s undivided attention and the atmosphere of peace in this, the most magnificent of chapels, will guarantee an experience never to be forgotten.
Breakfast in the Vatican
Afterward, allow the calm of the morning museum to wash over you and treat yourself to a delicious breakfast in the Vatican; truly an unparalleled atmosphere. You can have an American-style buffet breakfast in the Vatican’s Courtyard of the Pine. Enjoy coffee, eggs, pancakes and whatever else takes your fancy in this lush green square.
Quiet Sistine Chapel & Secret Vatican Museums Tour, 3:15 pm
Take the afternoon tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel to see these marvelous treasures of European civilization, in a way so few people get to see them. The wonders of the Sistine Chapel do not have their full affect until you see them on an After Hours Vatican tour, once the crowds of tourists have vacated. Join a small group Vatican tour or take a tour of the Sistine Chapel in complete privacy, just you, your travelling companion(s) and an expert guide.
Experience Michelangelo’s magnificent rendering of the Old Testament in an atmosphere of peace and quiet reflection, in total privacy or on a small group tour. The tour of the Vatican Museums includes exclusive, private access to parts of the collection most people never get to see.
See the Secret Collections of the Vatican Museums
Our afternoon tour of the Vatican Museums includes many rooms that are normally barred to the public, and are usually the privilege of Popes, Cardinals and world leaders. Ascend the Bramante Staircase, an architectural triumph of the masterful Tuscan architect Bramante. The 16th century staircase has delighted viewers with how similarly it represents the double-helix of human DNA.
See the Cabinet of the Masks, a room that’s interior design is celebrated as much as its artefacts. Mosaics that belonged to the Emperor Hadrian are housed in a room that represents Baroque architecture at its most restrained and elegant (while still being excessively decadent). You’ll also bear witness to treasures of the collection amongst members of the public, like the Raphael Rooms, the Gallery of Maps and the impressive collection of classical statuary.
Experience A Quiet Sistine Chapel
Enter the Sistine Chapel on a private tour, alone or only with a small tour group, and apprehend the magnificent works of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Perugino and Pinturicchio in tranquility. Away from the tourists crowds, you can experience Michelangelo’s depiction of Old Testament scenes at their most impactful.
Many people, of all faiths, have been moved to tears when they look upon this magnificent room, emptied of the bodies that normally crowd it. Look above and tremble below the triumph of Michelangelo’s ceiling, including his masterpiece The Creation of Adam. Your guide will enlighten you to aspects of the work you might miss alone, so you can appreciate the masterpiece in all its subtleties.
Enjoy privileged access to many parts of the Vatican museum collection civilians never get to see – join us on one of our Alone in the Sistine Chapel Experiences.
Join a VIP Vatican Tour For An Experience of A Lifetime
Whatever kind of Vatican tour you choose to take, either a private VIP Sistine Chapel experience or one in a small group, it’s certain to be an experience you’ll treasure forever. Make a treasured memory you’ll share with your loved ones for the rest of your lives.
The early morning Sistine Chapel tour gives you the chance to unlock the chapel’s doors and the doors to the Vatican Museums; seeing a side of this wonderful collection in a way so few get to. The afternoon experience means you join a Sistine Chapel after hours tour, seeing it once the tourists crowds have gone, and parts of the Vatican Museums’ collection that are normally hidden from the public.
Whichever tour is right for you, both give you an incomparable chance to experience the emotive power of Michelangelo’s frescoes in a serene Sistine Chapel. Choose one of our Alone in the Sistine Chapel: VIP Vatican Tours to create a memory that’ll last a lifetime.