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Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums tickets and tours

Italy

Things to do in Vatican Museums

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The treasures of the Vatican museums may be open to the general public, but there are areas that fewer people see. The Archivum Secretum Apostolicum Vaticanum is an archive of important documents covering twelve centuries of church history . . . and perhaps a few secrets.

Here you’ll find Pope Leo X’s 1521 decree excommunicating Martin Luther, and a petition from English clergymen in 1530 asking Pope Clement VII to annul King Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. There’s also the official doctrine of the Immaculate Conception as defined by the Church in 1854, supporting the notion that Mary was conceived without original sin.

Though many people are fond of conspiracy theories (ancient evidence of extra-terrestrial life?), the archive has been open to scholars since 1881. Nevertheless, access is not easy. Journalists, students, and amateur historians should not apply, and even professional scholars must renew permissions every six months.

Browsing is not allowed and nor is photography. Researchers must ask for a specific document from supplied catalogues. But what secrets are not contained in the catalogues . . .?

Opening times

  • St Peter’s – daily 7.00am-7.00pm April to September, 7.00am-6.00pm October to March
  • St Peter’s Dome – daily 8.00am-6.00pm April to September, 8.00am-5.00pm October to March
  • The Treasury – daily 9.00am-6.15pm April to September, 9.00am-5.15pm October to March
  • Grottoes – daily 7.00am-6.00pm April to September, 7.00am-5.00pm October to March
  • Museums ­– Monday-Saturday 9.00am-6.00pm, last entrance: 4.00pm. Free entrance on the last Sunday of every month, admission 9.00am-12.30pm. Museums close at 2pm

Museum entrance closes 75 minutes before closing time

About the Vatican

The origins of the Vatican might be traced to 324AD when the Roman emperor Constantine started construction of a church with the tomb of St. Peter at its center. It would be a focus of the early Catholic Church, although the first popes lived at the Lateran Palace during the Middle Ages and actually moved to Avignon in France in the fourteenth century.

It wasn’t until the end of that century that the popes returned to Rome and again considered a monumental church. This was a time of great building projects, including the Sistine Chapel, the Belvedere Courtyard and a new St Peter’s. Nevertheless, the growing collection of ecclesiastical buildings was not known yet as the Vatican.

In fact, it wasn’t until 1929 that the Vatican was recognized as a sovereign state, later becoming recognized and protected under the Hague Convention as a cultural heritage site. In 1984, UNESCO recognized the Vatican as a World Heritage Site. Today, it has a population of around 800, its own TV channel, its own post office and telephone service. It is protected by the lavishly uniformed Swiss Guards and even has permission to have a navy, though no ships exist at the moment.

For the visitor, the attractions may be religious (audiences with the Pope draw thousands) or cultural. The museums and galleries are storehouses of great and famous art collections, the gardens are beautiful oases of calm, the architecture is stunning and – of course – there’s the colossal majesty of St Peter’s church to explore.

Getting there

  • By Metro
    • Line A stations: Ottaviano - S.Pietro-Musei Vaticani, Cipro
  • By bus
    • 49: stop in front of the museum entrance
    • 32, 81, 982: Piazza del Risorgimento
    • 492, 990: Via Leone IV / Via degli Scipioni
  • By tram
    • 19: Piazza del Risorgimento
  • By taxi
    • Taxi stand: Viale Vaticano in front of the museum entrance
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Experiences in Vatican Museums

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Vatican Museums skip the line tickets with escorted entry
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Attractions & guided tours

Vatican Museums skip the line tickets with escorted entry

Book an exclusive skip-the-line entrance and assistance of a Musement representative and access the Museums in the quickest way possible!

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Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel small-group tour with a local guide
Must see
Attractions & guided tours

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel small-group tour with a local guide

Book here for a small group tour of the Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Take advantage of a local guide and skip-the-line entrance.

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Duration 3 hours
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Reserved entrance and guided tour of Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
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Attractions & guided tours

Reserved entrance and guided tour of Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Benefit from reserved access to admire the beautiful Vatican Museums and visit the greatest attractions in Rome, the Sistine Chapel.

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Skip-the-line entrance to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Likely to sell out
Attractions & guided tours

Skip-the-line entrance to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Benefit from skip-the-line access to admire the beautiful Vatican Museums and visit the greatest attractions in Rome, the Sistine Chapel.

free cancellation
Flexible
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Essential Vatican guided tour: Skip-the-line Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Attractions & guided tours

Essential Vatican guided tour: Skip-the-line Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Book your guided tour including Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Less time in line, more time on art!

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Duration up to 2 hours 30 minutes
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Complete skip-the-line Vatican tour for small groups
Attractions & guided tours

Complete skip-the-line Vatican tour for small groups

Book the ultimate Vatican experience with express access to the museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's and a full guided tour led by a Vatican expert.

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Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel skip-the-line tickets with assistance at the entrance
Attractions & guided tours

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel skip-the-line tickets with assistance at the entrance

Enjoy skip-the-line access to the Vatican museums with assistance at the entrance. Includes access to the Sistine Chapel and courtyards.

free cancellation
Duration up to 24 hours
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Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine tour with Vatican Museums upgrade
Attractions & guided tours

Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine tour with Vatican Museums upgrade

Visit the Vatican and the Colosseum in this day tour of Rome. Discover the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, as well as the Roman forum.

free cancellation
Duration up to 8 hours 30 minutes
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Exclusive first entry: Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums tour
Attractions & guided tours

Exclusive first entry: Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums tour

Book this combo offer including Exclusive First Entry Tickets: Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums!

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Duration up to 1 hour
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Pristine Sistine Express: Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica
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Attractions & guided tours

Pristine Sistine Express: Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica

Book your Pristine Sistine Express tour on Musement now! Skip the line, early access tickets allow you to see these incredible sites before the crowds arrive.

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Duration up to 2 hours
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Rome self-guided audio tour
Activities

Rome self-guided audio tour

Explore Rome at your own pace: enjoy an app containing over 130 points of interest, transport routes, sightseeing itineraries and walking tours.

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Vatican Museums private tour with a local guide
Likely to sell out
Attractions & guided tours

Vatican Museums private tour with a local guide

Don't miss the chance to discover the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel with a private guide dedicated only to you and your friends and family!

free cancellation
Duration up to 3 hours
Available in:

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Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

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Italy

Reviews Vatican Museums

Maurizio, May 15, 2016

“Ottima esperienza, guida molto preparata, tutto ben organizzato, assolutamente consigliato.”

Marcy, May 04, 2016
Leroy, Apr 05, 2016

“No issues, highly recommend”

Olga, Apr 03, 2016
Rome