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:
Dara did a fantastic job. His sense of humor was a definite plus and kept us all engaged.
5.0 Stars Roger Koppy
Worth every penny.
Worth every penny.
5.0 Stars Scott Kalkin
Perfect Balance of Wit and Knowledge
He was the perfect balance of wit and knowledge - was amazed at the depth of his knowledge and he has ability to communicate the facts in an interesting manner - also gave us a good selection of the things worth seeing - I have recommended the tour on our expedia review of Rome
5.0 Stars David Garwood
Dara was very informative
5.0 Stars Jeff Kennedy
Helpful and Informative
Dara was very helpful and informative. He knew each room and detail and I am glad that he was our tour guide. He had a nice personality and I was amazed with his ability to keep counting our group to make sure all were together before we moved forward. I have already recommended your tour to other people as I traveled in other parts of Italy.
5.0 Stars Audrey Ferrante
I attended the tour with my friend and we both found the tour extremely interesting. I would definitely recommend this tour.
5.0 Stars Tracey Bennett
The Tour was Excellent!
The tour was excellent! Very informative. Dara was an excellent tour guide - funny, knowledgeable and very friendly. This was the best tour we went on during our stay in Italy.
5.0 Stars Edvard Lauman
This Irish tour guide was excellent. Very knowledgeable and delivered information in a thorough manner with a clear voice. By far the best guide I had on the trip.
5.0 Stars Russell Lau
By Far the Best I have Ever Experienced
Having travelled a great deal, I have been on many tours in many places, but this tour was by far the best I have ever experienced! Dara delivered a lot of information in a quick and witty way. I am so glad we didn't try to visit the Vatican without a tour. Thanks so much for a wonderful day!
5.0 Stars April Flowers
Thoroughly pleased with the entire experience.
5.0 Stars Christy Turner
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