I recently saw a good friend of mine who returned from a vacation spent in Rome which she deemed fabulous. Instead of hitting several spots in Italy, she and her friend decided to focus on the Eternal City. When I asked her about the highlight, Vatican City was the winner. The Sistine Chapel was one of the reasons.
Having been there myself, I have to say, I can understand her sentiment. I can’t remember the summer crowd that I’m sure was there when I went. I do remember being in awe, as corny as that sounds. St. Peter’s Basilica may be impressive in its size, history and majesty, but there’s something about the Sistine Chapel that is such a story of triumph. Who in his or her right mind would paint a ceiling in such detail these days, particularly when lying on one’s back? Michelangelo would probably be thrilled to find out that his efforts are such a big tourist draw. Also, the Sistine Chapel is listed in Lonely Planet’s Bluelist as being one of the five reasons to look up when in Europe.
When I saw the Sistine Chapel, I knew a tad about its history and could pick out a few images I had seen in pictures before. Mostly, I didn’t know the specifics of what I was looking at. The Sistine Chapel section of the Vatican Musuems Web Page is designed to fill in the details with a virtual tour. You can click on sections of the ceiling to find out specific details about each. This would be a handy virutual tour to take before visiting the chapel in person.