3. Vatican: Michelangelo v Raphael in the Vatican City
On this theme tour of the Vatican, your guide will regale you with stories of the rivalry between Michelangelo and Raphael.
Your tour will begin with skip the line entrance to the Vatican Museums. This theme tour will focus on the artworks of Michelangelo and Raphael, but will also refer to some of the attractions along the way to help you to gain an understanding and appreciation of the period to which they belonged.
The Raphael Rooms were once the papal apartments of Pope Julius II, who liked to stoke the rivalry of the geniuses under his patronage, to get the most out of them! While he had Michelangelo decorating the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he had his greatest rival decorating the walls of the grand rooms of his apartments! Your guide will explain the commission Raphael was given when painting these walls, and the messages and themes he was asked to portray through his art, for the benefit of ambassadors and visiting dignatories to the Holy See. Your guide will also point out Raphael's portraits of some of his famous contemporaries in his frescoes here, including the Pope, Michelangelo and himself!
The Sistine Chapel was built by the uncle of Julius II, when he was Pope Sixtus IV. It was therefore very dear to his heart, so he hired the greatest artist of the day to take on the almost impossible task of painting the entire ceiling. Michelangelo displayed an obsession bordering on madness to complete this great undertaking, taking 4 years to complete the work, and today you can still gaze upward in awe at his greatest masterpiece. Your guide will explain to you the challenges he faced, his encounters and arguments with the Pope, the theme and purpose of the scenes he painted, as well as his own unique portaits and messages, hidden cheekily in small details that would have been very difficult for viewers to see from the ground!
St Peter's Basilica contains mosaic copies of some of Raphael's great paintings, the originals of which you will see in the Pinacoteca, and also Michelangelo's famous and very moving statue of Mary with the body of Jesus on her lap - the Pietà. There are also wonderful stories of the time both artists spent in the Basilica - both served time as the maestro, or chief architect, during the course of the 120-year project to complete the rebuilding of the ancient structure. You will stand beneath the dome which stands over the altar of St. Peter, while your guide explains how Michelangelo solved the problem of how to cover the vast transept with a dome that would not collapse on itself - a problem his predecessors were unable to solve, leading to a period of 18 years in which the Basilica was in use but could not keep the rain out!
With treasures in the Pinacoteca, Raphael Rooms, Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica, by two of the most naturally gifted - yet very different characters - artists of their own, or any, generation, you will never be bored on this fascinating study of art and history in the Vatican!