How to Visit the Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world. In fact, many people who come to Rome visit with the main goal of seeing the Sistine Chapel (even though the chapel is not actually even technically in Italy because the Vatican is its own country). So where is the Sistine Chapel? And how do you get tickets to visit?

The Last Judgement Sistine Chapel

Where is the Sistine Chapel?

The Sistine Chapel is inside Vatican City. Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and became an independent self-governed country in 1929. The Sistine Chapel is located within the 112-acre territory and is in the Apostolic Palace. This is also where the official residence of the Pope known as the Papal Apartments is located. It is located within the Vatican Museums, and not St. Peter’s Basilica.

How to see the Sistine Chapel

The only way it is possible to see the Sistine Chapel is to first go through the Vatican Museums. The Vatican Museums are the fifth biggest in the world with artworks spanning over 3000 years. The museums in general are a one-way system and you can not exit the museums without going through the Sistine Chapel. You can find the entrance to the Vatican Museums on Viale Vaticano which is about a fifteen-minute walk from Saint Peter’s Square and a ten-minute walk from the closest metro stop, Ottaviano.

Often in high season, you can wait up to an hour and a half to enter the museums to see the Sistine Chapel so it is advised to pre-book your ticket on the Vatican Museums official website which will allow you to skip the line and walk straight in. However, since the Covid restrictions, all visitors must pre-book their tickets online and they must show their Green Pass or proof that they are fully vaccinated.

How to pre-book your ticket to visit the Museums and Sistine Chapel

To pre-book your Vatican ticket to see the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel you must go to the Vatican Museums official website and go through the process of pre-paying online. If you are entitled to a student discount you must bring an I.D. If the official website is sold out, I recommend booking through Tiqets. (affiliate)

You can also book a tour through the Vatican Museums website or with another company. The guide will bring you to see the main sights inside the museums, and you will always stop in the Sistine Chapel.

If you choose to visit the museums on your own, there are many signs guiding you to the Sistine Chapel so I promise you cannot miss it.

Why visit the Sistine Chapel?

Along with Leonardo Da Vinci and Raphael, Michelangelo Buonarotti defined the Renaissance in art. The fresco paintings by Michelangelo are still today considered his greatest, most important, and popular works. That is saying something considering Michelangelo always claimed he was a sculptor before he was a painter. To see these works of art in the flesh and considering the hardship Michelangelo went through to create these masterpieces is something you are unlikely to forget

Architecturally speaking it is actually nothing special but it is what the Chapel is used for is very significant. The Sistine Chapel is where conclave takes place which is where all of the Cardinals gather to vote on who becomes the next Pope. In fact, this is one of the reasons why the Chapel was built between 1473 to 1481 under Pope Sixtus IV who had the Chapel named after himself. However, this is not why the majority of people come to see the Sistine Chapel. Pilgrims and tourists come to the Sistine Chapel to see the beautiful frescos on the ceiling and the Last Judgement over the main altar wall painted by Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564). The ceiling representing scenes from The Old Testament took Michelangelo four years to complete from the age of 32 to 36 and the Last Judgement took him five years between 1535 to 1541.