When we think of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, we all instantly cultivate that famous image of Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’ in our heads. But there’s more to this historic building than one image. In fact, you’ll find out much more about the Chapel when you take guided tours in Rome Italy. But we’re here to give you a little snippet of what you could learn from guided tours of Italy about one of the Renaissance’s most important building.
Firstly, with the Creation of Adam being the only painting able to stand up to the ‘Mona Lisa’ in terms of recognition, some who come on private Vatican tours can be shocked to see 46 other paintings on the ceiling. ‘Adam’ may be the most famous, but it is just one of the nine major ceiling frescoes that depict scenes from the Book of Genesis. Many other decorations adorn the wall which were created by lesser-known, but incredibly influential Renaissance painters such as Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Luca Signorelli and others. Secondly, the Sistine Chapel plays home to a special feature that those visiting the Chapel, whether on private tours of Rome or not, will miss out on: a chimney. The temporary chimney is set up on the exterior of the roof, while scaffolding holds the flume inside the chapel that connects to two furnaces. Why? It’s because the Sistine Chapel plays home to the cardinals who are voting for their new Pope. The chimney is an old-fashioned form of communicating the results of the vote. White smoke billowing from the chimney tells the awaiting crowd in St. Peter’s Square that a new Pope has been elected; whereas black smoke signifies that no candidate has received a two-thirds majority. But the chimney, flume and furnaces disappear when the election is finished – meaning that the vast majority of the public and those visiting on guided tours in Rome Italy are unlikely to witness this event.
Thirdly, a little known theory popularized by an Indiana physician named Frank Lynn Meshberger in 1990 suggests the robes and angels visible behind Michelangelo’s depiction of God in the Creation of Adam is actually an outline of the human brain. God, as well as the heads of the angels and the creases in the robes, seem to resemble crevices visible on the human brain’s exterior. The theory gains credence when one realizes that Michelangelo was a known anatomist. So is this just a bizarre coincidence? Or was Michelangelo trying to depict human knowledge being passed onto Adam by God? Judge for yourself when you take your private Vatican private tour. But despite Michelangelo’s great achievements, he was just a human being. For our last intriguing fact, and contrary to popular belief, Michelangelo actually hated working on the Sistine Chapel. He became so despondent over the process that he wrote to a friend in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek poem full of despair. “I am not a painter,” he concluded. It’s a great reminder that even the best of us can struggle on the eve of great achievements.
These are just some of the facts about the Sistine Chapel that can be found on guided tours in Rome Italy from a tour guide in Rome. But there is, of course, far more to find out about this near 550-year-old architectural and significant wonder sited in the middle of the Vatican City.