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Musei Vaticani –  I (Chris) had in Rome an opportunity of a private guided tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel.

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The tour was about 1 hour long and began at dusk after all the regular visitors had left.

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These are painted on the spaces at the top of columns. Notice the 3D effect created by the vividly colorful foreground and faded monochromatic background.

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The main attractions of the museum are not only the classical and Renaissance objects placed within it but also the artwork on the walls and ceilings.

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The painting above was done in the corner of a room.

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The Gallery of Maps (Galleria delle carte geografiche) is one of my all-time favorites – it is so cool to have all the beautiful and detailed maps in one place.

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The Gallery of Maps contains a series of painted topographical maps of Italy based on drawings by friar and geographer Ignazio Danti.

Venice

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The gallery was commissioned in 1580 by Pope Gregory XIII and took Danti three years (1580–1583) to complete the 40 panels of the 120 m long gallery.

Sicily

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The highlight of the tour is the Sistine Chapel, the last of the 54 halls, the Musei being one of the largest in the world. The papal chapel was built within the Vatican between 1477 and 1480 by Pope Sixtus IV, for whom the chapel is named.

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This is where the Papal Conclave takes place to elect a new pope.

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I was initially told by the guide that photography is prohibited inside the Chapel but an official later indicated that during our visit, it is permissible as long as the flash is not used. Hurrah. I can share !

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The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel were restored between June 1980 and December 1999, instead of appearing monochromatic due to candle smoke, it is now bright and almost spring-like.

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The Sistine Chapel ceiling was painted by Michelangelo (Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, I have never known his full name until just now) between 1508 and 1512. Along the central section of the ceiling, Michelangelo depicted nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

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One of the most widely recognized images in the history of painting, Michelangelo shows God reaching out to touch Adam.

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Below, appearing at the far end of the Chapel, is the next most famous painting by Michelangelo – the Last Judgement – a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity.

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This is, in the eyes of Renaissance catholics, how it all began and how it will end. Fascinating.

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