The Raphael Rooms
Colloquially known simply as the Stanze (which simply means room) this series of rooms that have become a reception area in one of the public areas of the Vatican; is plastered (quite literally) with images by the famous painter Raphael. Just like many of the rooms and unbelievable art pieces within the confines of these connecting buildings, this was originally commissioned for a Pope, in this case Pope Julius II. Although he died before the rooms were complete, Raphael and then his assistants eventually finished the grand and wondrous work. These finely handmade paintings are once more crafted to fit seamlessly with the elegant curves and arches of the interior design, creating colourful and vibrant living walls.
The scenes depicted in the images are a collection of landmark events throughout roman history, usually focused on a leader of the time. Emperor Constantine for example is the focus of two of these murals, in one he is baptized in the Lateran Baptistery at Rome, in the second the infamous Donation Of Constantine, the emperor now a devout Christian hands over documents that give the Pope dominion over several Roman territories. What makes this such a great piece is that these documents were later found to be forged, and thus this version of the story was not only fabricated by the church but obviously widespread enough that Raphael internalized the story well enough to paint a version of it. These historical inaccuracies make the work in here one of a kind as they visually represent stories that were once thought to be factual, giving an immediate date to the work and also bringing with it a feeling of the times the people were living in.
In a more fantastical picture the Deliverance of Saint Peter, a triptych of paintings show him being released from jail by a robed and light filled angel. These events are inspired entirely by the Bible, taking the story from the pages of Acts 12. All of the work in here is in the iconic style of the high renaissance artistry that flourished in the early 1500’s. The characters seem to all glow, the form of the bodies is dynamic and perfectly proportional, and all the scenes are overflowing with people and action. These features put together mean that much of the work in the Vatican is highly detailed and demands the attention and appreciation of the viewer.
With a collection that has grown over centuries by some of the most powerful men of each time, the content of the museums here is magnificent. Starting with the marble sculpture of Laocoön and His Sons, the group of displayed items here now totals over 20,000 with 50,000 not available to the public. Guests can enjoy art that ranges from Michelangelo to Dali as they make their way round the 54 different galleries. If you are one for classic art, you will be in a state of permanent bliss here as everything from spiral staircases to elaborate ceilings make up the entirety of this incredible collection. The museums offer free admission on the last Sunday of each month, but be warned, you may need the patience of a saint to survive the gigantic queue.