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Vatican Museums

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Sistine Chapel

"Without having seen the Sistine Chapel, one can not form an appreciable idea of ​what the human being is capable of achieving." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe This is perhaps the final destination of the Vatican Museums, what everyone hopes to see because it is unique.

Inaugurated on August 15, 1483, the Sistine Chapel, in addition to containing works of inestimable value, is famous throughout the world for being the official headquarters of the Conclave, that is, the room in which the cardinals meet to elect the new Pope. In 1483, Pope Julius II, grandson of Sixtus IV, not satisfied by the starry sky that decorated the vault, called the young Michelangelo. The artist, who had never felt comfortable with painting and who had not experienced the fresco technique, at first rejected the position, stressing that he is a sculptor. In the end, the perseverance of Julius II wins and Michelangelo begins to paint the vault and the lunettes at the top of the walls. The work lasts from 1508 to 1512. Years during which Michelangelo faces innumerable difficulties and seriously puts his health at risk. The biggest difficulty is reaching the ceiling and, therefore, the artist comes to build wooden scaffolding composed of several steps. Because of the paint that drips into his eyes while he is painting, Michelangelo is in danger of becoming blind and, because of the uncomfortable position he is forced to assume with his neck, he suffers a series of repercussions in the cervical area. On November 1, 1512, Michelangelo finally completes the frescoes of the laps and the Sistine Chapel is shown to the public. The work is simply marvelous: in the nine central boxes are represented the Stories of Genesis, among which is the famous "Creation of Adam".

Some curiosities. It is said that the dimensions of the chapel are the same as those of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem according to the Old Testament. In addition, two important meetings of artists with the Pope took place in the Sistine Chapel. On May 7, 1964, Paul VI convened a mass with artists there. In his final speech, he underlined the intimate link between art and religion and offered artists an alliance of friendship. On November 21, 2009, in the Sistine Chapel, more than 260 artists met with Benedict XVI. His speech was a reflection of beauty, setting the example of the fresco of The Last Judgment by Michelangelo.

Vatican Museums