The Raphael Rooms are a series of previous Papal apartments which are now located in the Vatican Museums. They are named after the Renaissance painter Raphael Sanzio who painted three of the four rooms now visible to the public.
In 1508 Pope Julius II commissioned Italy's best painters to decorate a series of rooms upstairs in the Apostolic Palace. Julius refused to sleep in the Borgia Apartments where his predecessor Pope Alexander VI Borgia had slept.
Initially Raphael was a minor name. Upon seeing his work, the Pope entrusted the entire project to Raphael and he brought in his own assistants to help him carry out the work.
The project took 16 years to complete (1508 to 1524) and spanned two Popes (Julius II and Leo X). Unfortunately, Raphael died in 1520 on his 37th birthday meaning the last room, the Hall of Constantine, had to be painted by his assistants Gulio Romano and Giovanni Francesco Penni. This is the first room people enter due to the flow of the Vatican, so the visitor is viewing the rooms chronologically backwards.
Another commission started in 1508 was the Sistine Chapel ceiling which would hugely influence Raphael's style. Raphael and Michelangelo were rivals for work and disliked each other personally although Raphael came to respect Michelangelo's painting talent once the chapel was unveiled in 1512. There are four rooms in the Raphael Stanze and each room has four wall paintings and a ceiling.
The Hall of Constantine - This first room you visit was a reception hall, showing scenes from the life of the first Christian Emperor, incluing:
The Room of Heliodorous - This second room was a private meeting room and it shows:
The Room of the Signature - This third rooms was the office or study where important documents were signed shows:
The Room of the Fire in the Borgo - This last room was used as a dinning and music room, showing:
The Raphael Rooms take about 40 minutes to view (or as long as you like) and would suit those who are interested in Renaissance frescos. I recommend doing them if your tour takes place in the morning. You have to see the Borgia Apartments and the Modern Art Gallery afterwards, so the entire section takes 45 minutes to one hour. They are entirely optional and photos are allowed without flash.
My Tour reviews:
Informative and Entertaining
The tour was great and we loved our tour guide. The tour was informative and entertaining. Our Vatican experience was greatly enhanced by having this tour and it was definitely worth it.
5.0 Stars Ryan
Excellent Sense of Humour
Very informative and Dara has an excellent sence of humour.
5.0 Stars Billy Kane
Easy to Understand
Dara was a good guide and seemed to know what he was talking about, plus he was easy to understand.
5.0 Stars Jason P
Brilliant Irish Wit
Dara was so knowledgeable about all aspects of the history, architecture and general elements of the Vatican. What we really appreciated were the background stories he shared about why things were done the way that they were as it really aided our understanding and appreciation. Our group included 2 teenagers, and all of us were pleased. There was so much to cover and he did it brilliantly. His brilliant Irish wit was greatly appreciated too! I can't imagine trying to do the Vatican on our own.
5.0 Stars Carrie
Tons of Sense of Humour
I love Dara's format of explaining with tons of sense of humour.
5.0 Stars Celina Tablante
Dara was Amazing
Dara was amazing. Very funny and he knew his stuff!!!
5.0 Stars Andrea Green
Thank you for providing a wonderful tour of the Vatican - with special thanks to Dara who was an outstanding guide!
5.0 Stars Simon Harris
Dara made the whole foot pounding experience very interesting with a touch of humour thrown in for good measure. Without him pointing out things on the way we would have missed a lot. My teenage daughter was not looking forward to the tour, but afterwards she commented on how much she got out of it and found it very funny.
5.0 Stars Mr Parlour
Spoke excellent English. Loved the headphones. Did not have to keep up to enjoy the tour. Have two teenagers with us and they enjoyed it too!
5.0 Stars Toni Elizabeth Stanek
Dara did a wonderful job. I wish we would have had him as our tour guide the entire time we were in Rome. He made the tour wonderfully entertaining and very educational. He placed just enough detail in the explanation to teach us but not bore us. He did an outstanding job. Thank you Dara!
5.0 Stars Rebeka Carter
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