Take a 3D Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and Other Art-Adorned Vatican Spaces

sistine chapel

For­get the air­ports, the tick­et lines, and the crowds. Now you can step right into the Vat­i­can’s most sacred spaces and inspect the won­ders of Renais­sance art and archi­tec­ture with just a click of a mouse. The Vat­i­can has post­ed a series of vir­tu­al tours cre­at­ed by stu­dents and fac­ul­ty in the com­mu­ni­ca­tion and com­put­ing sci­ence depart­ments at Penn­syl­va­ni­a’s Vil­lano­va Uni­ver­si­ty. The four Papal Basil­i­cas are includ­ed, along with the small­er Sis­tine and Pauline chapels. Here are six links to six amaz­ing vir­tu­al tours:

Basil­i­ca of St. Peter: Designed by Michelan­ge­lo and oth­ers, St. Peter’s is the focal point of the Vat­i­can, and per­haps the most famous exam­ple of Renais­sance archi­tec­ture. You can scroll up and down to inspect the walls and ceilings–including the famous dome–and zoom in for a close look at Michelan­gelo’s mas­ter­piece the Pietà or Bernini’s ornate canopy, or bal­dachin, over the Papal Altar.

The Sis­tine Chapel: The most famous build­ing in the Vat­i­can, after St. Peter’s, is the Sis­tine Chapel, a part of the Pope’s offi­cial res­i­dence, the Apos­tolic Palace. Fres­coes by Raphael, Berni­ni, Bot­ti­cel­li and oth­ers adorn the walls–and on the ceil­ing, one of the great mas­ter­pieces in the his­to­ry of art: Michelan­gelo’s ear­ly 16th cen­tu­ry depic­tion of scenes from the Book of Gen­e­sis, cov­er­ing some 12,000 square feet. On a walk­ing tour you would bare­ly have enough time to rec­og­nize some of the major scenes. With this vir­tu­al tour you can spend all the time you want scan­ning around and zoom­ing in to study the details.

Arch­basil­i­ca of St. John Lat­er­an: The Pope’s offi­cial eccle­si­as­ti­cal seat, St. John Lat­er­an is the old­est Papal Basil­i­ca. But many of its most famous fea­tures are rel­a­tive­ly recent.  The basil­i­ca is per­haps best known for its neo­clas­si­cal façade by Alessan­dro Galilei, com­plet­ed in 1735.

Basil­i­ca of Paul Out­side-the-Walls: Built out­side the old city walls, this basil­i­ca con­tains the tomb of St. Paul. You can see the tomb and oth­er fea­tures of the grace­ful church (which was rebuilt in the 19th cen­tu­ry after a dev­as­tat­ing fire) on the tour.

Basil­i­ca of St. Mary Major: This basil­i­ca is actu­al­ly locat­ed out­side the Vat­i­can City com­pound, in Rome, but has extrater­ri­to­r­i­al sta­tus sim­i­lar to that of a for­eign embassy. Built in the fifth cen­tu­ry, with some lat­er addi­tions, the basil­i­ca is a beau­ti­ful exam­ple of clas­si­cal Roman archi­tec­ture.

The Pauline Chapel: Anoth­er chapel in the Apos­tolic Palace, the Pauline Chapel is sep­a­rat­ed from the Sis­tine Chapel by the Sala Regia, or “Regal Room.” Although less well-known than the Sis­tine Chapel, the Pauline Chapel hous­es two great fres­coes by Michelan­ge­lo: “The Con­ver­sion of Saul” and “The Cru­ci­fix­ion of St. Peter.”

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Comments (9)
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  • sonya says:

    thank you! breath­tak­ing!

  • Mandy says:

    Wow! Def­i­nite­ly divine intervention…astonishing ! Mind blow­ing! Praise The Lord!

  • Go Freeman says:

    ou can skip to the end and leave a response. Ping­ing is cur­rent­ly not allowed.
    sonya says … | May 25, 2013 / 12:49 pm
    thank you! breath­tak­ing!

    Mandy says … | August 3, 2013 / 12:53 pm
    Wow! Def­i­nite­ly divine intervention…astonishing ! Mind blow­ing! Praise The Lord!

  • Shirley Bartmess says:

    I can­not access this site (vir­tu­al tour of Sis­tine Chapel. Why? I do not twit­ter, or have a face book account. Help!
    Shirley Bartmess

  • sylvia gomez says:

    Beau­ti­ful !

  • Hrvoje J says:

    Dear all, I need a help to find out name of the pic­ture and a painter of a oil on can­vas (i zhink) I saw in under­gorund gallery on the way to the Sis­tine chap­pel. The motiv of the pic­ture are work­ers who mak­ing a cross (pic­ture sim­bolis­es peo­ple “work­ing their job” no mat­ter what they that means eth­i­caly).
    Thank you a lot!

  • UnknownShadow says:

    This is very good, keep it up! The paint­ings in the ceil­ing of the Chapel reli­gious paint­ings.

  • Ann says:

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly this requires Adobe Acro­bat, which is not avail­able on Apple tablets due to an old squab­ble between Apple and Adobe. Wish I could see it it though!

  • skatepark says:


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