Who knew? Fun Facts about the Sistine Chapel

As I wrote the headline for this blog post, I chuckled. Fun facts about this famous religious structure, the Sistine Chapel? Shouldn’t I be more respectful, a bit more reverent? Actually, adding some joy and mirth helps me take something overtly intimidating and venerated and bring it down to a human, touchable, enjoyable experience.

I first visited the Sistine Chapel when I was 13. I remember my parents “dragged me” to see some church that had “famous” paintings on the ceiling. Growing up, I had red geraniums on my bedroom’s ceiling, so I thought maybe this would be amusing. I allowed the crowd of tourists to move me through the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel as I daydreamed about having great pasta for lunch.

Fast forward past a couple more attempts of awe at the splendor of the Sistine Chapel, eventually understanding the enormity and genius of the creation, and we arrive at April, 2012, where I had that OMG moment of awe.

Andrea Grisdale, Managing Director of IC Bellagio, our partner for exceptional Italian experiences, led a group of Virtuoso-affiliated Travel Advisors ( read that as extremely well-travel, hard-to-impress travel professionals) through the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel AFTER HOURS! Say good-bye to long lines and crowds and say hello to an up-close-and-personal experience.

When we entered the Sistine Chapel we were allowed to wander and take photos, with no flash (apparently a no-no according to the list below), then find a seat along the edge of the chapel. A man slowly walked to the center of the chapel, looked around the room at all of us, cleared his throat, and began to sing the Ave Maria, a Capella.

Sorry for the blurry photo! A tenor singing the Ave Maria a Capella

I was transported to some mystical world, a world where I was a fortunate noble who could enjoy listening to a talented tenor sing one of my favorite songs – just because. As I recall that moment now, I am immediately overcome with gratitude, even non-prosaic goosebumps.

The Sistine Chapel came alive! It became personal and relevant. So, in the spirit of bringing something so special to my soul, I invite you to delve into these facts!

15 Lofty Facts About the Sistine Chapel


The Sistine Chapel


Ceiling at the Sistine Chapel