In 1477, Pope Sixtus IV decided to rebuild the old chapel – and in so doing created today’s Sistine Chapel. In 1503 Pope Julius II decided to change the interior of the chapel and commanded Michelangelo to take it on. He initially disagreed because he considered himself a sculptor rather than a painter. But Michelangelo’s 4-year project eventually began in 1508.
And what an undertaking it was. The plain exterior or the chapel gives little hint of the beauty that lies within. At Avventure Bellissime – the Italian tours and Italian holiday expert – we have the pleasure of taking our visitors to the Vatican City on a skip the line tour of the Sistine Chapel. Here, in this post, our tour expert Monica gives a hint on what you can see in the Sistine Chapel frescoes. It is a must see sight during your Italian vacation. We’d love to show you this in person, so if you are planning to visit Italy, please visit our website at tours-italy.com for more information.
The Frescoes along the walls
The first thing to note is that the Sistine Chapel ceiling paintings are the most famous part of the frescoes – but there is more to see in the chapel that the ceiling alone. Before Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo, Sixtus commissioned the most highly regarded painters of the period including, Botticelli, Rosselli, Ghirlandaio
and Perugino to fresco the two long walls of the chapel. Even without Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling, the walls represent some of the best frescoes in Europe. One wall represents the story of Christ and the other the story of Moses.
The book of Genesis
Along the central part of the ceiling fresco, you will see Michelangelo’s nine scenes of the Book of Genesis – the first book of the bible. The images are organised into three groups of three pictures. The scenes – Creation, Downfall and Fate - are not in chronological order and appear in reverse order when viewed from the entrance of the chapel.
The ceiling fresco – the narrative
The scenes you will see from the altar to the main door on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel frescoes include: The Separation of Light and Darkness; Creation of the Sun, Moon and Earth; The Separation of Land and Water; The Creation of Adam; The Creation of Eve; The Temptation and Expulsion; The Sacrifice of Noah; The Great Flood and The Drunkenness of Noah.