To begin your Sistine Chapel Early Access St Peter’s Express Tour, meet your guide before official opening hours on the wide steps across the street from the entrance of the Vatican Museums, to become the first group to step inside with a 15 minute head start on other tour groups and a 1 hour and 15 minute head start on the general public. The steps are located between Caffè Vaticano and Hotel Alimandi Vaticano, on the corner of Viale Vaticano and Via Tunisi.
The guide will lead you to the majestic Sistine Chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope. Every corner of the chapel is decorated; with mosaics on the floor and intricate frescoes on the wall painted by the early Renaissance artists. Feast your eyes by looking at the luminous paintings on the ceiling and behind the altar painted by Michelangelo, one of the greatest artists of all time. It is a moving experience to see the enormity of Michelangelo's Creation frescoes on the barrel-vaulted ceiling with the figures exuding strength and elegance. Contrary to the optimism and elegance of the ceiling, Michelangelo’s Last Judgement, which he painted on the back wall a decade later, is darker and pessimistic.
Your tour guide will provide you with some basic information on what to look for once you enter the chapel, then you are free to take in the beauty of the chapel on your own.
With Skip the Line Access you will gain direct entry from the Sistine Chapel to the world’s largest church, the St. Peter’s Basilica. Built on the site of St. Peter’s tomb, the basilica has been the centre of the Catholic faith and is listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Dating back to almost 2000 years and built over a span of almost 100 years by the greatest Italian architects of the time, the major highlights of the church are its masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Pietà, the Papal altar and Bernini’s ingenious use of optical illusion in the Throne of St. Peter.
After exploring the main level of the Basilica, your tour escort will lead you down to the Crypts of the Popes, housed in the space between the older 4th century Basilica and St. Peter’s, which was built on top of it. Here, you will find the tombs of many of the Church’s most important Popes and the architectural fragments found here makes it worth the visit.
In the final lap of your tour, the guide will lead you outside the entrance of the Basilica, leading on to Bernini’s architectural masterpiece, St. Peter’s Square, which is an elliptical esplanade bordered by a massive colonnade with 140 beautiful statues depicting different saints and sculpted by various artists of the 17th century. Your tour ends at this point.