If it’s a piece of art, it’s Michelangelo’s. It was not for nothing that his peers envied this prolific painter and sculptor for being the gifted one: Michelangelo’s awe-inspiring artworks can be found across Europe, in miniature paintings in shop fronts, in imitations at residences, across the internet and on city pavements. But to truly marvel at the magnitude of his art works, one must do so in person. Take a tour of the Vatican, a repository of history which houses some of the greatest pieces by the master. Listed below are the many places where Michelangelo’s greatness can be observed and appreciated in Rome.
The Sistine Chapel Ceiling
The Sistine Chapel tops the list of must-visit places in Rome primarily for its exquisitely painted frescoes. Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the nine scenes painted from the Book of Genesis on the ceiling of the Chapel, was paid for by Pope Julius II and it is an artistic rendition unparalleled in history. The best known scenes of this fresco are The Creation of Adam and The Hand of God.
The Sistine Chapel Altar Wall
Another of Michelangelo’s iconic works – The Last Judgment – can be seen on the altar of the Sistine Chapel. The painting illustrates the Resurrection of Christ and God’s final judgment. It took the 67-year-old Renaissance artist nearly four years to complete. The Chapel is open on weekdays and tickets can be booked at the Vatican Museum website.
The Pietà, St. Peter’s Basilica
A world admired Renaissance art piece by the master is The Pieta. The iconic sculpture depicts Mother Mary, after the crucifixion, clutching Jesus in her arms as he dies. Shielded by a glass enclosure to prevent vandalism, The Pieta, installed in a chapel in the St Peter’s Basilica, is made of white Carrara marble and it is perhaps the only art piece Michelangelo chose to sign.
Statue of Moses, Basilica of San Pietro
At the centre of a massive funerary for Pope Julius II sits the regal sculpture of the prophet Moses, complete with his flowing locks and the Ten Commandments held in his right hand. Cut into a single piece of Carrara marble, the sculpture is extremely lifelike, so much so that, legend has it, Michelangelo himself was fooled by it. In fact, it is said that he struck at the statue’s knee with a hammer when it did not respond to him. Entry to the monument is free.
Piazza del Campidoglio, Capitoline Hill
The piazza, or town square, on Capitoline Hill was designed and conceived by Michelangelo; along with all of the other accolades, he was also a revered architect of his time. The whole monument is centrally located, just outside the Senators’ palace – also designed and conceived by Michelangelo to give the whole ensemble symmetry. The area is open to visitors free on all days, while the Capitoline museums cost a nominal fee. While there might be many more places to visit on tours of the Vatican, one might find it useful to check for the travel time and time spent on waiting in queues when planning local trips. The best Vatican city tours are those that successfully marry pre-planning and unplanned ambling.
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