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Ultimate Guide to the Gallery of Maps in the Vatican

An Insider’s Guide to Exploring the Vatican

Spending a day at the Vatican can be both awe-inspiring and utterly exhausting. To make sure you have the best experience, it pays to plan ahead. Here, Culture Trip has put together an insider guide with expert tips to help you navigate the heart of Vatican City.

Founded in 1929 by a special treaty with Italy, the Vatican is a rare wonder: a small, autonomous city state inside the boundaries of another, much larger country. While you won’t need to cross a border or show your passport, you will encounter Swiss guards, a local flag and high levels of security to enter both St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. You’ll also see the wonders of Michelangelo’s magnificent dome, the dazzling Sistine Chapel and Bernini’s stunning piazza.

For members of the Catholic religion, the Vatican is also a site of spiritual pilgrimage, with devotees coming from all over the world to pay homage to the Pope. Whatever your beliefs, be respectful when you visit, as for many this is the holiest of holy cities.

Plan wisely and book ahead

The best way to enjoy a day (or longer) at the Vatican is to pick and choose the highlights you’re most interested in seeing, and be sure to book tours and tickets ahead of time. If you’ve got a tight schedule in Rome, you might opt to visit only St Peter’s Basilica, either with a guide or on your own. If you’re an art and history lover, you won’t want to miss taking an expert-guided tour of the Vatican Museums, home to the famed Sistine Chapel. While steamrolling through both the basilica and museums alone and back-to-back is common, it’s ill advised. By the time you reach the Sistine Chapel (typically the last stop), you’ll be so worn out from the long lines, massive crowds and art overload you won’t enjoy what you’re looking at.

By far the best option is to divide and conquer. Devote a full day to visiting the sites, but break it up with a nice long lunch and a stroll and recharge in between. Alternately, if you’re in Rome for a while, you can split your visit into two – the basilica one day, the museums another. You’ll enjoy your visit so much more if you give yourself time to absorb what you’re seeing.

Admire Michelangelo’s dome

Your journey starts here. Crowning the square, the 136-metre (446-foot) gilded dome of St Peter’s Basilica is one of the Eternal City’s most recognisable buildings. The heart and soul of the Vatican, St Peter’s has seen centuries of religious, political and artistic legend and lore. Famously engineered by a rotating cast of Italy’s best architects – with a dome designed by none other than Michelangelo – the basilica took 120 years to complete and remains renowned throughout the world for its grace and beauty.

It’s dedicated to St Peter, one of the patron saints of Rome; legend says that his original tomb may lie beneath the building. Regardless, the basilica is at once a sacred site and a treasure trove of Italy’s greatest artistic works, from Michelangelo’s marble Pietà to Bernini’s bronze Baldachin. Don’t miss taking a peek at the grottoes with their papal tombs, or climbing the dome (which requires a separate entry fee). Here, you can get up close to Michelangelo’s cupola and take in the spectacular views from the terrace.

You can opt to climb the 281 stairs or, if you’d like to save your energy, take the lift. A second narrow spiral staircase winds even further up, if you’re feeling intrepid.

As a religious site, dress codes at St Peter’s are strictly enforced (no tank tops, shorts or miniskirts). Entry is free, but heightened security makes long lines almost unavoidable. The best time to visit is early morning. Walks of Italy offers a popular St Peter’s Tour, including pre-reserved dome tickets, which promises to take you “from floor to dome, Pietá to Baldachin, and everywhere in between”.

See the Pope

Every Sunday at noon (unless he’s travelling) Pope Francis, known affectionately in Italy as Papa Francesco, appears in a small window overlooking St Peter’s Square to bless the crowds below. Plan to arrive at least an hour early to get a good spot, as the massive square gets packed. Devotees can also request free tickets to the weekly Wednesday Papal Audience held in St Peter’s Square. Tickets should be requested well in advance via fax here.

Mail a postcard and pick up a medal

In the era of selfies and digital media, there is something deeply satisfying about real post you can hold in your hand. Send your family and friends an unexpected treat with a postcard from the Vatican. Pop into the post office here to get your special papal stamp, then sign, drop and send.

While you’re at it, pick up a few gifts to take home. If you’re looking for souvenirs, head into the wonderland of Borgo. With ancient walls and cobbled roads, this quarter has a quirky charm all its own. Here, you’ll find everything from the pious to the tongue-in-cheek – from rosaries and saints’ medals to gemstone-encrusted chalices. Grab a coffee at one of the outdoor cafés then stroll and browse amid the charming, winding lanes. Be sure to look out for Il Passetto, the ancient wall linking the Vatican to Castel Sant’Angelo; the wall hides an ancient papal escape route. If you’ve got time, explore the castle grounds along the river.

Where to eat and drink in the Vatican

When hunger strikes, stay off the crowded main drag and head to Borgo Pio. This pedestrian stretch of shops and eateries has a handful of places to catch your breath, rest your feet and grab a leisurely lunch at sunny outdoor tables. For pasta and a glass of wine, the sophisticated Il Pozzetto is a longtime local favourite; make sure to to try the carbonara. If you don’t want to sit down for a full meal, you’ll also find a handful of panini shops here that make quick, cheap and tasty sandwiches to go. Stop off for gelato on your stroll back at Gelateria Del Monte or Hedera.

Tour the Sistine Chapel by night

From the Sistine Chapel to the Rooms of Raphael, the staggering complex of the Vatican Museums is a wonderland of art, history and architecture. The joy is in exploring and discovering the parts you love best. “One of my favourite things at the Vatican Museums is the Maps Gallery, which is a corridor lined with huge maps of Italy that were commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII and drawn in the 16th century,” says Linda Martinez, who owns Rome’s popular Beehive Hostel with her husband and is therefore well accustomed to directing travellers around the Vatican. “These maps are a lot of fun and interesting to look at up close, and I could spend hours in this section alone. The ceiling in this gallery is stunning.”

Deeply enthralling, the museums are also far too overwhelming, crowded and confusing to navigate alone. The best way to enjoy your visit is to relax and put yourself in expert hands by pre-booking a small group tour. This unique evening tour led by an art historian from Context Travel will take you through the collection’s highlights at nightfall. As you stand in the halls of history, the evening light and night air lend the Vatican an aura of ethereal magic. Spend a few quiet moments lingering in the restored Sistine Chapel admiring the stunning frescoed ceilings, some of Michelangelo’s most famous masterpieces.

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Night tours typically run on Fridays, from April to October. For daytime tours you’ll find multiple year-round options. Some day tours also include visits to nearby St Peter’s if you want to do everything in one go. Check itineraries carefully, as circuits vary. And as Martinez wisely tells guests, be mindful of the heat, take breaks and pack a water bottle.

Find the best panoramic views at night

After a long day, reward yourself with a pre-dinner drink on the stunning terrace of the Atlante Hotel. The outdoor rooftop panorama bar offers unbeatable views of St Peter’s. Its aperitivo hour, from 6pm to 9pm, features cocktails and wine by the glass with snacks. If you miss happy hour, never fear – the bar stays open late and the night-time views are spectacular. For late-night supper, head to Sorpasso to eat, drink and contemplate the sights of the day. In this wine lover’s paradise, you’ll find a list featuring bubbly, whites and reds from all across Italy. Classic platters here feature an array of delicious charcuterie and cheeses perfect for pairing and sharing. Sorpasso is tiny and popular, so reservations are highly recommended.

Vatican City Rome: The Ultimate Guide To Explore The Ancient Realm

Vatican Museums is Now Open

Reopened On

Safety Measures

Hand Sanitisation Station

‍♂️ Reduced Capacity

New Rules and Guidelines

  • Mandatory Green Pass is needed to gain access to tourists attractions in Italy. Find more details [here](https://www.dgc.gov.it/web/)
  • It is compulsory for visitors to book tickets online before arriving at the venue.
  • Mandatory to wear masks before visiting the museum.
  • Temperature checks will be conducted before entering the museum.
  • It is necessary to maintain social distancing at all times.
  • Group tours can have of only 20 members including the guide.
  • Groups tours that have more than 10 members can avail the radio transmitter system.
  • Exit that provides one access to St. Peter’s Basilica from the Sistine Chapel will remain closed until further notice.

More Updates

Revised Opening Hours

Monday to Saturday

Final entry 4:30 pm

Rome, the capital city of Italy, is one of the most popular destinations in the entire world with over 7.6 million visitors every year. The city is known for its antiquity of culture, architecture, and defiant history. It is filled with much historical importance for its various landmarks and once such is the Vatican City. The city is a holy sight and is often referred to as the Holy See. If you are traveling to or are in Rome, Vatican City is a no-miss. Here we provide you with all info you need to make the best of your time and money in the holy country.

Vatican City Rome In A Nutshell

Typical duration to visit the Vatican CityThe minimum time needed for visiting Vatican City is about 2.5 to 3 hours. In case you decide to enter through St Peter’s Basilica, you would need 15- 20 minutes to get to the Vatican Museum. Please note that this does not include the time to get to Vatican City.

Must-see at Vatican City

  • St Peter’s Basilica
  • Vatican Museums
  • Sistine Chapel
  • St Peter’s Square
  • Gardens of Vatican City

Vatican City Opening Hours

St Peter’s Basilica Opening Hours
• 1 April to 30 September — 07:00 AM to 07:00 PM
•1 October to 31 March — 07:00 AM to 06:30 PM

Vatican Museum Opening Hours
• Monday — Saturday: 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM (Ticket office closes at 04:00 PM)
• Sunday — Closed
• Last Sunday of each month: 09:00 AM to 02:00 PM. (Ticket office closes at midday, 12:30 PM)

Sistine Chapel Opening Hours
• Monday — Saturday: 09:00 AM to 04:00 PM.
• All the extraordinary openings of the last Sunday of the month are suspended.

Viale Vaticano,
00165 Rome, Italy
Get Directions

Language: Italian, Latin
Currency: Euro
Phone Code: +379
Electrical Outlets: Type C, F
Vatican World Heritage Sites: 2

Navigate Your Vatican Tickets Guide

Vatican City History

Vatican City, the center of the catholic faith, home to the Pope and interesting collections of art, is the smallest country in the world. It is fascinating how this small country is packed with so much historical relevance, power, art, and beauty. It is surrounded by the city of Rome and lies west of the Tiber River.

With a land area of only about 0.44s square kilometers, the state holds a population of only 800 individuals. Although the Vatican city was officially founded on 11th February 1929, it has long been a land of power, faith, and neoclassical charm. It is made of several famous landmarks such as St. Peter’s Basilica, Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican Museums, and the Gardens of Vatican City.

There are several stories about Michelangelo initially refusing to create his most famous art, The Last Judgement. What is more interesting is Michelangelo’s insertion of himself into the fresco (your tour guide would elaborate on both incidents). Today, the area is developed into a popular pilgrimage site and a commercial district. Although it is the smallest of the countries, the Vatican’s GDP per capita of $21,198, which makes Vatican City the 18th wealthiest nation in the world per capita. Such strong history and present status of the Vatican City is what sets it apart from any other attraction you will ever visit.

Why should you visit Vatican City in Rome?

The city’s art and architecture need no introduction. The monuments, landmarks, and paintings have been created by some of the best artists the world has seen. Witness the Roman, Baroque, and Gothic characteristics of design represented by many of the landmarks. The Vatican Library and the Sistine Chapel are a symbol of the Roman Renaissance. The Vatican City is also a sovereign territory of the Holy See.

The Holy See is the last absolute monarchy and the governing body of the Catholic Church which is recognized as the judicial entity under international law. Vatican City is not only home to spectacular art and architecture, but also Pope Francis I. If you are lucky enough, you can see Pope Francis I (Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio) at his general audience to the masses every Wednesday and Sunday.

Vatican City Attractions

The Vatican offers a lot to be seen and learnt about. But your limited time in the state calls for shorter bucket list of places to see. Here are the top Vatican City attrcations that we have put together, so you can create your own itinerary.

Vatican Museum

The Vatican Museum Consists of over 54 galleries including the Sistine Chapel, is one of the largest in the world and has the ability to display more then 20,000 pieces in its seven kilometres of halls and corridors. This would be one of the grandest and longest halls you will ever walk. The macro and micro details will overwhelm you with awe and admiration to the various artists who have created these masterpieces of art. One thing not to forget if you are up for visiting the museums is a good pair of walking shoes, because, oh my, there’s a lot to see as well as walk.

St Peter’s Basilica

Popularly known as the greatest of all churches of Christendom, St Peter’s Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter (Simon), the chief of Jesus’s apostles and the first Bishop of Rome (Pope). The church was first constructed by Emperor Constantine I in 319 Ad. The reconstruction of the present church began on 18th April 1506 by Pope Julius II. The Basilica is the largest Catholic Church in the world and is the sovereign jurisdiction of the Vatican city. Check out our guide to choosing the right St. Peter’s Basilica guided tour if you fancy a guided tour.

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Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel is a marvel to look up to, literally! The first thing anyone would notice when they enter Sistine Chapel is its phenomenal ceiling. It is located in the Apostolic Palace and is the official residence of the pope. The famous frescoes, The Last Judgement, were painted by Michelangelo which has not been outdone since. The frescoes are a narration of the old testament and are divided into three scenes — the creation of the heavens and earth; the creation of Adam and Eve, and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and thirdly, the story of Noah and the great flood. The Chapel is 500 years of legacy left by Michelangelo to inspire us.

Gregorian Etruscan and Egyptian Museum

The Gregorian Etruscan Museums is dedicated to Etruscan antiques and conserves the rare artifacts unearthed in the excavations carried out in the prominent cities of ancient Etruria as well as other works collected over centuries held in the Vatican. The Egyptian Museum on the other hand brings to light the Egyptian-influenced Rome, history of pharaonic culture, and splendid setting of Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli amongst others.

The Spiral Staircase

This iconic staircase was designed by Bramante and later in 1932, by architect Giuseppe Momo who was inspired by the original one. It is a mesmerizing architectural marvel; shaped like a double helix with two sets of staircases designed in such a way that those guests going up do not cross paths with those descending. This makes for an excellent photo op.

Vatican Gardens

The Gardens of Vatican City, known as the Vatican Gardens, are a series of gardens and parks which cover nearly half of Vatican City. Covering over 23 hectares, the gardens feature medieval fortifications, monuments, and buildings from the 9th century to the present day. You will get to see opulent fountains, incredible winding paths, vibrant colored flowers, and magnificent oaks. You will also get to see amazing sculptures and artificial grottoes dedicated to Madonna.

Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo

The Vatican has owned the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo, also known as the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, since 1596 after seizing it from the Savelli family over debts to the church. Until October 2016, it was the summer residence and vacation retreat of the Pope for centuries. Pope Francis opened the palace’s doors to the general public in Spring 2014 for garden visits and in October 2016 for the Apostolic Palace. The Palace is 43.3 km Kilometers from the Vatican and takes about 45 minutes. You can board the metro: LINEA A, train: FL4, or bus: COTRAL to get there.

To experience Vatican city to the fullest and to make your visit a memorable one click here to know all about the different places you can visit with premade itineraries.

Ultimate Guide to the Gallery of Maps in the Vatican

Sean Finelli Last Updated: March 18, 2021

Of the many galleries in the Vatican, the Gallery of the Maps is often a crowd favorite. Many Vatican visitors travel to the Holy See for religious purposes, as the Vatican is one of the holiest spaces in the world.

For those who may not be visiting the Vatican for religious fulfillment, the Gallery of Maps provides a scientific approach to some of the museum’s most interesting artwork. Displaying maps from all over the world created by Roman topographers during the sixteenth century, you can get a glimpse of what the world was thought to look like centuries ago.

To tour or not to tour?

Supposedly if you stand in front of each art piece for one minute in the Vatican Museums, it would take you 12 years to see everything. While it is definitely possible to visit the museums on your own, I highly recommend a tour guide to get you in and out quickly before you go into overload with our Best Vatican City Tours In all of our Vatican tours, you will witness the Gallery of Tapestries up close!

Many people don’t know that the Vatican City is actually surrounded by the city of Rome. This is why if you are interested in some tours, then check out our Rome Tours as well!

History of the Gallery of Maps

As you approach the Sistine Chapel, you’ll be led through a series of hallways and galleries. One of the most impressive galleries you’ll visit on this stroll is the Gallery of Maps, which consists of 40 frescoes of maps, detailing the Italian regions and papal properties that existed during the time of Pope Gregory XIII.

The frescoes were created by Ignazio Danti between 1580 and 1585. Pope Gregory XIII had good reason to commission Danti for this task, as Danti had already built himself quite a portfolio by this time.

Before designing the frescoes for the Gallery of Maps inside of the Vatican Museums, he had served as a mathematics professor in Bologna. And before that, Danti had designed the Sala della Carte Geografiche in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

What do the Maps Show?

The frescoed maps in the Gallery of Maps show the entirety of the Italian peninsula including additional areas like Corsica and Sardinia. When walking toward the Sistine Chapel, you will find lands on the Tyhrennian Coast on the left and lands on the Adriatic Coast on the right.

Each of the frescoes features a different region of Italy, with the region’s major city specifically pinpointed. You’ll also find that the frescoes highlight important battles in Italy that occurred in these regions, such as the Battle of Lepanto, the Siege of Malta and more.

Are the Maps in the Gallery of Maps Accurate?

Interestingly, Pope Gregory XIII had these designed so that he could explore his peninsula without having to leave his home. Clearly, it’s tough to say that the maps are completely accurate.

One of the heads of restoration of the Gallery of Maps, however, has said that the present contents of the maps are accurate for the most part, but what the artists didn’t know, they chose to omit.

Restoration of the Gallery of Maps

These enormous yet delicate frescoes have been on display for nearly 500 years. Over the centuries, the maps have deteriorated due to water, dust and overall poor maintenance.

The damage became so significant that at some points, visitors believed that the maps presented geographic inaccuracies because of stains and even material erosion. Because of such damage, many visitors to the Vatican Museums would even ignore Danti’s topographical works and rush to the Sistine Chapel, having no concern for the Gallery of Maps.

In 2011, the Vatican decided to restore this precious gallery and turned to the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums to fund a full restoration. During this meticulous maintenance project, the art restorers would lay special paper over the maps to absorb yellow glue from a previous failed restoration project.

From there, they were able to remove some of the stains and restore the maps to the beautiful masterpieces they were designed to be.

Vatican Museums and Happy Hour at Museum Restaurant

Book Your Vatican Museums Tickets: Italy’s most popular attraction — including a guided visit to the Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, and Happy hour is included!

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The reservation includes the admission ticket to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel and an unforgettable happy hour in the Restaurant Area of the Museums.

Info & Booking

A proposal intended for visitors interested in taking part in a tour of the Vatican Museums with an educational authorized guide.

Having finished the tour, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy a delicious Happy Hour (Cold cuts and cheese platter, fried, bread, pizza, tasting of two first courses, spelt and barley salad or rice salad, dessert, fruit, water, juices, Prosecco or wine). Admission Ticket included.

The admission ticket to the Vatican Museums is valid for visiting the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel only on the date indicated on the voucher.

It is possible to purchase a ticket at a reduced price for children aged between 6 and 18 years and students up to 25 years of age on presentation of a student identity card (International Student Card) on the day of the visit.

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IMPORTANT: The Vatican Museums require the name and birth date of all participants of the group, please enter their names in specific field in the order form, once you have added the reservation to your shopping cart.

PLEASE NOTE: museum confirms the visit around two months before the date, so reservation guarantees the insertion into the waiting list. Credit card charge is made the business day after the reservation request.

The reservation allows you to enter the museum at confirmed date and time without queuing up, only at time confirmed on the voucher; delays on reservations are not allowed. It is advised to be at the meeting point 15 minutes before time indicated in the confirmation voucher. Your preferential entrance can, in any case, have a waiting time respect time indicated on the voucher due to the huge number or visitors entering the museums every day. Weekend a Firenze is not responsible for eventual delays related to inefficiencies of the Vatican Museums cashiers.

After the payment is confirmed, you will receive an e-mail with the confirmation of the booking, the voucher containing the reservation code and tour information. You are asked to print off the voucher so as to present it on the day of the tour. The reservation will be checked by means of the bar code present on the voucher. In case of loss of the voucher please consult the Customer Care Staff. To access the museums, you will have to show the Voucher you got by email together with a valid identification document.

PLEASE NOTICE: Confirmed time is not always the same time you requested; museum automatically confirms the closest available time on the same date if requested time is sold out. Tickets will be confirmed upon availability of museum. Please note time confirmed can be ANY TIME during opening hours.

You can also book a Guided tour of the Vatican Gardens, that enables the visitors to continue, on their own, a tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, and the Thematic Art and Faith Tour of the Vatican Museums and Saint Peter’s Basilica.

For all the guided tours, it’s possible to stay inside the museums at the end of the guided visit, until closure time. Guided tours are available in the following languages: English, Italian, Spanish, French, Russian, Swedish and Portuguese.

Rooms closed at the moment of the visit will be indicated at entrance.
Access to the Museums is permitted only to visitors with proper attire.
All the reservations, dates and times might be changed or cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances related to activities of the Pope.
Reservations can be made until 4 days before the visit.

Save time in ordering! Add into your basket all the museum tickets you want, then fill the form and send the request.

Before making your reservation, please, read the Ordering Informations

IMPORTANT NOTICE: After succesfully completing a reservation, you will receive two e- mails: the copy of your order (immediately after submitting your order) and the confirmation mail (two business days after). In order to receive them, please make sure you insert your e-mail address correctly and check that your anti-spam filter or antivirus are not blocking mails from our address [email protected] Special attention for AOL mailbox users.

Cancellation policy: tickets CANNOT be canceled and they are NOT refundable.

If the visitor needs to modify their voucher, they must present themselves at the «Reception Desk» in order to request a new voucher. Reservation changes can be made, only once, up to one hour before the intended visit. It is not possible to make modifications to the number of participants taking part to the visit.

Open from Monday to Saturday; entrance times will be indicated at the moment of the reservation.

Sundays (except for the last Sunday of each month, excluding Easter, June 29th and December 25th and 26th)
January 1st and 6th (Epiphany)
February 11th (Lateran Pacts Anniversary)
March 19th (St. Joseph), Easter and Easter Monday
May 1st (Ascension Thursday) and May 22nd (Corpus Christi Day)
August 14 (Assumption Vigil) and 15th (Assumption Day)
November 1st (All Saint’s Day)
December 8th (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), 25th (Christmas Day) and 26th (St. Stephen’s Day).

Deposits at the Cloakroam

  • The cloakroom staff will accept from the visitors their bags and personal belongings (irrispective of the form, material or dimension of th object), with the exception of clothing items, hats, portable umbrellas.
  • It is obligatory to deposit in the cloakroom suitcases, backpacks and containers with dimensions larger than cm 40 x 35 x 15.
  • It is obligatory to deposit in the cloakroom bags and bagpacks which are cumbersome, except those small-sized, that carried on shoulder, don’t jut out by 15 cm from the body’s shape in its highest point.
  • It is obligatory to deposit in the cloakroom any umbrella with a spike tip, umbrellas of medium and large size, walking sticks (except those required by disabled visitors to facilitate their movement), tripods for cameras and video cameras, signage of any kind (except signs used by official guides for their identification).
  • It is obligatory to deposit in the cloakroom knives, scissors, any tools thai could be harmful to other persons ora damage works of art in the Museums.
  • It is not possible to deposit in the cloakroom, fiirearms of any kind or other dangerous objects. It is strictly forbidden to enter the Museums with any kind of weapon.
  • Access to the Museums by armed visitors is not permitted. Non exception to this rule is made for visitors holding a firearm permit, or if the weapon forms part of a uniform (police, military or others).

Before You Book

PLEASE NOTE: Immediately after submitting an order, you will receive two emails. The first email contains your order summary (this one you receive immediately after placing your order), the second email confirms your successful payment (one business day after placing the order). In order to receive these two emails, please make sure that you enter your email address correctly and check that antispam or antivirus filters do not block emails from our [email protected] address. Users of AOL, Comcast and Sbcglobal.net need to pay special attention to this, please. Vouchers will also be available, one business day after the request, at your dashboard.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The time you select on the order form is your preferred time. The closest available time, which can be anytime during opening hours on the selected date, will be automatically confirmed if your preferred time is no longer available.

Vatican Gallery of Maps

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

The Gallery of Maps [1] (Italian: Galleria delle carte geografiche) is a gallery located on the west side of the Belvedere Courtyard in the Vatican containing a series of painted topographical maps of Italy based on drawings by friar and geographer Ignazio Danti. [1]

The gallery was commissioned in 1580 by Pope Gregory XIII as part of other artistic works commissioned by the Pope to decorate the Vatican. It took Danti three years (1580–1583) to complete the 40 panels of the 120 m long gallery.


  • 1 Design
  • 2 Other decorations
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Design [ edit ]

The panels map the entirety of the Italian peninsula in large-scale frescoes, each depicting a region as well as a perspective view of its most prominent city. It is said that these maps are approximately 80% accurate.

With the Apennines as a partition, one side depicts the regions surrounded by the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas and the other depicts the regions surrounded by the Adriatic Sea.

After the series of regional maps, there are two general geographical maps :

— Ancient Italy (with the inscription “Commendatur Italia locorum salubritate, coeli temperie, soli ubertate”)

— Modern Italy (with the inscription “Italia artium studiorumque plena semper est habita”).

At the beginning and at the end of the gallery:

— General view of the four major Italian ports of the sixteenth century: Venice, Ancona, Genoa and Civitavecchia.

Other decorations [ edit ]

The decorations on the vaulted ceiling are the work of a group of Mannerist artists including Cesare Nebbia and Girolamo Muziano.


An Insider’s Guide to Exploring the Vatican


Ultimate Guide to the Gallery of Maps in the Vatican



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