The Vatican Museums are a group of art and Christian museums situated within the walls of Vatican City. The Vatican Museums collections consist of over 70,000 paintings and sculptures, displayed prominently in over 54 galleries, making it one of the most impressive collections of Renaissance art anywhere in the world. The museums are home to a number of classical sculptures, tapestries, and paintings by Renaissance greats such as Raphael, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Bernini and Leonardo da Vinci. The Vatican Museums also have a collection of Modern Religious Art with paintings and sculptures from artists like Carlo Carrà, Vincent van Gogh, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Gauguin, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso.
The Raphael Rooms are a group of rooms in the public portion of the Vatican Palace (part of the Vatican Museums) and are famous for their frescoes which were painted by Raphael, marking the High Renaissance in Rome. The rooms that make up Raphael Rooms are 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").
The Gallery of maps is a 120 metre long gallery in the Vatican Museums that is covered with painted maps of Italy based on drawings by friar and geographer Ignazio Danti. It took Danti 3 years to complete the 40 panels that make up the Gallery of Maps. The Gallery of Maps remain as the world's largest pictorial geographical study.
The Sala Rotonda is shaped like a miniature Pantheon and is covered with impressive mosaics on the floor while the perimeter is lined with statues and busts. The mosaics of the Sala Rotonda originally belonged to the 3rd century A.D. and were found at Otricoli and at Sacrofano. They were later assembled here in the 18th century. Of the sculptures, the most famous is the gilded bronze statue of Hercules. A red porphyry basin with a circumference of 13 metres lies at the center of the room.
The Gregorian Egyptian Museum, or the Museo Gregoriano Egiziano, houses a brilliant collection of artifacts that date back to ancient Egypt. The highlights of the Egyptian Museum include ancient papyruses, animal mummies, the Grassi Collection and a reproduction of the famous Book of the Dead.
As the name suggests, the gallery is home to a collection of ancient statues and busts and is extremely popular amongst visitors. The most popular exhibitions in the Gallery of Statues include Sleeping Ariadne, the bust of Menander, Barberini Candelabra and the Chiaramonti Caesar.
Access to the Vatican Museums requires one to purchase tickets. These tickets will allow you to skip the queue at the entrance and head straight to the security. Another feature of the Vatican Museums ticket is that it includes access to the famed Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is situated within the Vatican Museums and you are not required to purchase a separate ticket to access it.
With an individual access ticket, you also get the option of going for an audio tour. These headsets are available in multiple languages and provide all the important information you need to learn more about the paintings and sculptures that adorn the Vatican Museums. Apart from individual access tickets, you can also go for guided tours of the Vatican Museums.
Taking a guided tour of the Vatican Museums can be really helpful if you want to experience more than just gazing at works of art. In the company of an expert guide, you will receive priority access to the Vatican Museums and head inside the museum without having to wait in the queue. Once inside, your guide will take you through the Vatican Museums galleries and show you some of the most important and iconic works of art from the Renaissance and even a collection of modern art paintings.
Guided tours of a historical monument are an extremely fruitful way to go about discovering them. The guide will be an expert in the subject and tell you not just the who and why behind each painting, but also the historical and cultural context that gave birth to these works of art. However, the downside of guided tours is the fixed routine and route that you will have to follow - usually at the discretion of the guide. However, at the end of the day, a guided tour is the best way to go about discovering a historical attraction, especially museums.