Rome day 5: Vatican Museums and Villa Borghese

We had an early morning entrance to the Vatican Museums. No lines because we had booked our tickets online. A perfect way to start our tour with two childeren (9 and 12). We thought we would enter the museums taking the famous double spiral staircase, as we did 21 years ago. But they’ve build a new modern lookalike staircase to enter. The exit is via the beautiful old exit though. For me it was my second time visiting the Vatican Museums and I in particular was interested in revisiting the Rafael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel. I must say it was a new experience to visit these Museums with a teenage daughter (everything is soooo boring) and a nine year old who was really interested but was also passing through in high speed mode, asking in every new room “is this the Sistine Chapel?”. The collection of the Vatican Museums seems endless so don’t forget to plan upfront what you really want to see.

The Rafael Rooms (Stanze di Rafaello) were originally intended as a suite of apartments for Pope Jullius II. He commended the young Rafael in 1508 to redecorate the existing interiors of the rooms entirely.  Nowadays the four Rafael Rooms  form a suite of reception rooms in the palace, the public part of the papal apartments in the papal palace.
The rooms are the Sala di Costantino (“Hall of Constantine”), the Stanza di Eliodoro (“Room of Heliodorus”), the Stanza della Segnatura (“Room of the Signatura”) and the Stanza dell’Incendio del Borgo (“The Room of the Fire in the Borgo“).

Above you can see Rafaels School of Athens, representing the degrees of knowledge or the truth acquired through reason. The fresco’s position as well as the philosophers’ walk in the direction of the Holy Sacrament on the opposite wall suggested the interpretation of the whole room as the movement from the classical philosophy (pre-Christian) to the true religion (Christianity). It is perhaps Raphael’s most famous fresco.

It is in the Sistine Chapel that the Papal conclave takes place, the proces by which a new pope is selected. Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II  in 1508 to repaint the ceiling of the Chapel. He completed his work between 1508 and November 1512. He painted the  Last Judgement over the alter between 1535 and 1541. I totally agree with Goethe who said: “Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving.”
Because today the weather was rather nice we decided to go the Villa Boghese after lunch. After a decent walk in the park we decided to split up. My husband and eldest daughter went for a segway tour and my youngest and I went to the Zoo. Afterwards we met at the parks roundabout, had some ice cream and walked to the nearest Metro station. It has been a long day and an absolutely walking record.

We have 3 days left and have to make a list of our must-sees before leaving Rome.

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