the raphael rooms

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.

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raphael paintings

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.


raphael sanzio

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.


raphael artist artwork

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.


raphael school of athens

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.


raphael artist

The Hall of Constantine - This first room you visit was a reception hall, showing scenes from the life of the first Christian Emperor, incluing:


raphael renaissance

The Room of Heliodorous - This second room was a private meeting room and it shows:


school of athens raphael

The Room of the Signature - This third rooms was the office or study where important documents were signed shows:


raphael painting

The Room of the Fire in the Borgo - This last room was used as a dinning and music room, showing:


raphael famous painting

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:

Vatican Tour Easy to Follow
Dara did a great job and was very informative regarding the amount of art and sculpture that was covered. His explanation was in story form and he connected what was happening during that time in a very easy to follow description.
5.0 Stars Lori Oliver
Vatican Tour Dara was an Excellent Tour Guide
We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the Vatican and felt that we obtained a lot more information than we would have done on our own. Dara was an excellent tour guide who was well informed and able to deliver the information in an enjoyable way.
5.0 Stars Shirley Ryan
Vatican Tour 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
General Tour Great Tour!
Dara was excellent! Thank you for such a great tour!
5.0 Stars Ruth
General Tour Fantastic Job
Dara did a fantastic job. His sense of humor was a definite plus and kept us all engaged.
5.0 Stars Roger Koppy
General Tour The Tour was Great
The tour was great. Dara was a great combination of knowledge and humor. Good pace. I would use your tour company again.
5.0 Stars Mike Marotta
Vatican Tour A Great Tour
The tour was great, after talking with others on our cruise we got the better deal as they went on the cruise sponsor tour. I do have 2 items to help with improvements. I know you may not be able to do this one and it may be out of your control, but benches would be great when listening to the information on the Sistine Chapel. The second, the guides need better microphone, when they turn their head the mic stays put and you lose volume. My party all agreed that it was a great tour. Debbie.
5.0 Stars Deborah Flanders
Vatican Tour Very Good
The tour was very good and Dara had the perfect combination of knowledge, respect and humour! It was good he had this as the tour is long but we knew it would be. The only aspect of the tour which saddened me and my friends (this has no reflection on Dara) when we entered the Sistine Chapel I could believe the noise, flash photography and uncovered arms!!) This is obviously a sign of the times but the Vatican should Not allow it. Vatican Tour was amazing and of course I will be recommending it.
5.0 Stars Anna Baker
Vatican Tour Incrediby Informed
I don't know how people go to the Vatican without a guided tour. There is no other way of doing it. Our guide was incredibly informed and very intelligent. I learnt so much with this tour! He was amazing and there is no complaint to be made. On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), he ranks at a 10+. :-) Thank you for making our Vatican tour the best!
5.0 Stars Melissa Kelly
Italy Tour Dara was Fantastic!
Dara was fantastic! Not only very informative but funny as well. He kept the group together well, he frequently asked if everyone was okay and we stopped for toilet breaks. The tour was so interesting and well paced. It was also great that Dara was able to talk and walk at the same time unlike the guide the following day!
5.0 Stars Natasha Thomas
My Vatican Tour Details
Skip the Line Tickets
Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's
Bathroom & Coffee Breaks
English Speaking Guides
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