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One of the famous places that many Italy sightseeing tours bring visitors to is the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City of Rome. Many people are familiar with the famous paintings on the ceiling done by the famous artist Michelangelo, which shows scenes from the Bible from Genesis to the judgment day.

Plus, the other walls in the chapel are also painted and depict some of the popes and other Biblical scenes and are painted by different artists. This has made it so that the Sistine Chapel is considered also to be an art gallery besides being a church.

Sistine Chapel History

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The Sistine Chapel was specially made to order by Pope Sixtus IV in 1475 and actually built in 1483 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary’s Assumption to the Virgin August 15. It is meant to be the chapel of the Catholic pope and is also where elections are held to select a pope when that is needed. 

Then, the Pope asked for Rome to send in painters to paint the walls and between 1481 and 1481 the artists Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli and the Perugian Pietro Perugino responded and came in to paint the frescoes on the walls.

History of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling Paintings

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Few people probably know that the ceiling actually had a different ceiling in the beginning, which was a star spangled sky that PieroMatteo d’Amerlia painted. But Pope Julius II della Rovere wanted it changed and in 1508 he is the one who called in Michelangelo to redo it. And the rest, as they say, is history, as that is the ceiling that remains to this modern day.

It actually took Michelangelo four years to finish his paintings and it is said to have been so consuming that it destroyed the artist’s eyesight. The ceiling is so detailed that it has depictions of over 300 different figures. He also had to return in 1535 and was ordered to paint “The Last Judgment” on the wall of the altar, which took another six years to complete.

Besides these famous paintings, the Sistine Chapel has many tapestries along the side walls and these have depictions of Bible events from the Act and Gospels. They were made between 1515 and 1519 by the artist Raphael and then were sent to be woven in Brussels.

Modern Sistine Chapel History

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Over the recent years, the Sistine Chapel famous paintings have been cleaned and painstakingly restored to their original grand states. This was first started in 1965. Then between 1980 and 1994 modern computer studies were made of the paintings and used to help restore them.

Some people think the restoration hurt some of the old paints, while others say it saved the masterpieces from ruin. It’s up to future generations to decide, as it still attracts many tourists on Italy trips to come and see it every year.

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Church services are still held today in the Sistine Chapel, where the very first mass was held on August 9, 1483 and was the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The chapel features the most important masses on the Catholic Church calendar and is conducted by the Pope himself. The Sistine Chapel has its own choir, which has had music written for it specifically.

All in all, the Sistine Chapel is seen as a magnificent example of artistic beauty and religious voice and many people come to see it in its glory every year on Italy trips.