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Sistine Chapel
Virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel.


Sistine Chapel (Latin: Sacellum Sixtinum; Italian: Cappella Sistina) is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio and others. Under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted (12,000 sq ft) of the chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512. He resented the commission, and believed his work only served the Pope's need for grandeur. However, today the ceiling, and especially The Last Judgment (1535–1541), is widely believed to be Michelangelo's crowning achievement in painting.

The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored the old Cappella Magna between 1477 and 1480. During this period a team of painters that included Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio created a series of frescoed panels depicting the life of Moses and the life of Christ, offset by papal portraits above and trompe l’oeil drapery below. These paintings were completed in 1482, and on 15 August 1483, Sixtus IV celebrated the first mass in the Sistine Chapel for the Feast of the Assumption, at which ceremony the chapel was consecrated and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Since the time of Sixtus IV, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new Pope is selected.

The ceiling's various painted elements form part of a larger scheme of decoration within the Chapel, which includes the large fresco The Last Judgment on the sanctuary wall, also by Michelangelo, wall paintings by several leading painters of the late 15th century including Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Pietro Perugino, and a set of large tapestries by Raphael, the whole illustrating much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Central to the ceiling decoration are nine scenes from the Book of Genesis of which the Creation of Adam is the best known, having an iconic standing equalled only by Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the hands of God and Adam being reproduced in countless imitations. The complex design includes several sets of individual figures, both clothed and naked, which allowed Michelangelo to fully demonstrate his skill in creating a huge variety of poses for the human figure, and have provided an enormously influential pattern book of models for other artists ever since.


360 view of the chapel. Let it load then use your mouse and roller ball to look around.

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