Although they house one of the finest collections of art, sculpture and artefacts in the world, the Vatican Museums are without question a victim of their own success…….the mass of tourists certainly detracts from the experience.
No where is this more the case than in the Sistine Chapel, where frankly you would have more room in a tin of sardines, to use a well worn metaphor. Also, although everyone is supposed to be silent and no photographs are allowed inside the Chapel itself, this doesn’t deter people from chattering away and taking the odd sneaky photo on their phones……and as you can see from one image below I also succombed to the latter temptation myself.
I don’t know if it was the overall disappointing Chapel experience that has clouded my judgement (it probably is) but I actually felt slightly underwhelmed by Michelangelo’s famous ceiling. Personally I much preferred the 120m long Gallery of the Maps and the truely beautiful early 16th century apartments painted by Raphael.
If you’re visiting Rome then the Vatican Museums are really a must see, and I certainly wouldn’t want to put anyone off making a pilgrimage, because the art is spectacular. However I think it’s only fair to warn the future visitor that unless you have plenty of money and can afford to pay for one of the more exclusive out of hours tours, then you will need to prepare yourself to be carried along on a tide of humanity. Speaking of tours, I would advise pre-booking on to one of these (there are many options available). If nothing else this saves you having to navigate the incredibly busy and confusing ticket hall yourself.
© Mark Simms Photography (2019)