The Sistine Chapel is the location where the papal conclave meets whenever a pope dies and there is a need to elect a new pope to take over. For this reason alone the Sistine Chapel would be one of the most famous rooms in the world sort of like the Oval Office is famous as the presidential office of the USA.
The chapel is a pretty big rectangular room with a length of 40.9 meters and a width of 13.4 meters – which were the dimensions of the Temple of Solomon according to the Old Testament.
There used to be a chapel at this location for a long time but the Sistine Chapel got its name after pope Sixtus IV who had the chapel restored between 1477 and 1480. The chapel was decorated by several renaissance painters before the chapel was ready for its first mass in 1483. With the decorations of these painters the room would probably have been splendid to observe.
But the real claim to fame came when Pope Julius II found a new artist and gave him the commission to make a new decoration of the Chapel painting the ceiling. The painter was actually more used to making sculptures but he still took the task. The painter was Michelangelo and he made one of the most famous paintings of all time on the ceiling and walls of the chapel. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos inside the chapel so you will have to take in the paintings and remember them so you can enjoy them later.
Michelangelo started the work on the ceiling in 1508 and he requested a free hand in making the decoration he considered appropriate. It took four years to do the ceiling and he did a marvelous job and the painting on the ceiling is possibly the most stunning roof in any church anywhere in the world.
I assume the popes were happy with the result – since Michelangelo was called back in 1535 to make a new fresco on the wall on top of the altar. He made a fresco of the last judgement and it took a while to complete it – it wasn’t ready until 1541.
You can go and visit the Sistine Chapel if you are going to the Vatican Museum. The walk through the museum will eventually end in the Sistine Chapel so you can enjoy this true masterpiece as the end of your visit to one of the best museums of the world.