Architect Giovanni dei Dolci erected the Sistine Chapel, the papal chapel of the Vatican Palace in 1473-81 for Pope Sixtus IV. Also known as Cappella Sistina in Italian, the Sistine Chapel is a popular tourist spot that attracts millions of tourists around the world every year.
Every element of this building is enchanting and overwhelming. The exterior may seem a bit misleading; however, the interior is full of beautiful treasures. You will come across the superb Renaissance frescoes and, connoisseur of art, you will not help admiring them. The ceiling was painted by a skilled sculptor turned painter, Michelangelo.
Amazing facts about the Sistine Chapel
- The chapel is located in Vatican City and its glorious museums. Every day, around 25,000 visitors visit the chapel to admire the masterpiece on its ceiling.
- The chapel was built between 1477 and 1480 under the authority of Sixtus IV. The frescoes inside are said to have been commissioned by Pope Julius II.
- This place serves as a papal conclave, place of worship and other essential functions.
- Pope Sixtus IV is believed to have invested money in the construction of this iconic structure. The layout was inspired by the Temple of Solomon described in the Old Testament.
- Some features of the Sistine Chapel have been misinterpreted. For example, the nudes painted in the frescoes could not be deciphered. In 1564, the Council of Trent considered these images inappropriate, after which Daniele da Volterra was ordered to cover them with paint clothes and fig leaves.
- Subsequently, some of the curtains were removed and the original painting was revealed. This episode took place when the chapel underwent restoration work in the 1980s and 1990s.
- The ceiling is high and measures approximately 131 feet long and 43 feet wide. It showed the enormous scale of the non-traditional canvas that could have been used to paint it. Artist Michelangelo is said to have painted over 5,000 square feet of frescoes.
- It is also believed that Julius was determined to have Rome rebuilt to its former glory. Following this, he embarked on a campaign to achieve this ambitious task. According to him, such a work of art will not only add appreciation to its own name, but will also eclipse all that Pope Alexander VI, his rival, had achieved and accomplished.
- It took Michelangelo four years to paint the ceiling to perfection. Today, it covers an area of 12,000 square feet.
- Some rumors suggest that the artist painted the frescoes while standing. Another well-known theory suggests that he painted every area lying on his back. However, these theories are considered urban legends.
- What makes The Sistine Chapel discreet is that the representation of God in Michelangelo’s frescoes is one of the first of its kind. The painting features a man with a long white mane and a white beard.
- This image of God painted by the artist has become common. This is because, until this point, God has never been portrayed as a person in this way.
- Michelangelo presents God six times through his paintings (frescoes). However, these images were finally painted, as he wanted to refine his approach first.
- The artist started working on the ceiling when he was only 30 years old. At that age he was famous as a sculptor in the city.
- Michelangelo worked on three different projects. Unfortunately, each of them was left unfinished due to multiple interruptions.
- His work of art in the glorious Chapel was not at all easy. He must have known interruptions, disappointments, quarrels, hesitations, etc. While working on this project, he did not encounter problems only from the people at work, but also from his family members.
- At one point, the feud between Michelangelo and the Pope inflamed so much that he had to secretly leave Rome from Florence. However, he returned to Rome after the government in Florence ordered him to return to the Pope.
- By the time Michelangelo was finishing his work on the Sistine ceiling, his reputation began to precede.
- Originally, Michelangelo was a sculptor. Before painting the ceiling, he worked with marbles and other materials. During his sculpture work, the only time he painted was during his brief stint as a student in a studio in Ghirlandaio.
- The Sistine Chapel is of great importance not only as a tourist spot, but also for others. Each time a new Pope must be elected, the College of Cardinals comes to meet in the Chapel and submits its votes under oath. This event has been taking place since 1492.
- The Sistine Chapel is also used as the Pope’s private chapel. In addition, the number of visitors continues to increase.
- If you are planning to visit this chapel, there are a few things to keep in mind. You must dress appropriately. Cover your shoulders and legs below your knees. Otherwise, you will not be allowed to enter the chapel. Regardless of their gender, all visitors are required to follow the code of conduct.
- The chapel also prohibits the use of cameras during visiting hours. It is done to protect the paintings. On the occasion of the election of a new pope, security is reinforced. At present, the chapel has 115 security checks.
- The architect who designed the Sistine Chapel with worship and defense at its heart also ended up designing the Ponte Sisto. It is a bridge in Rome spanning the Tiber. Ponte Sisto is considered another masterpiece from this period.
- The number of visitors who come to visit and rent the chapel and the ceiling paintings each year exceeds the total population of Norway.
We hope you enjoyed reading the facts listed above about the chapel. As a history and art lover, your visit to this place is a must.
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