Monday, May 02, 2011

Rome, day 4 - Sistine Chapel and St Peter's

Our guide told us that it took Michelangelo 6 years to paint the Sistine Chapel (up to eight hours a day on fresh plaster). He did it standing up and never recovered from the neck problems it gave him. However, he was very well paid for his work - the receipts are still in the Vatican library - and was a millionaire by today's standards. Apparently there's a Roman saying about him having short arms (i.e. not reaching his pockets). He died aged 96 and Vatican receipts show that he worked until at least 91.

The chapel itself is bigger than we expected. Apparently photography is not allowed, but we saw plenty of people doing it, and so...

The triangles on the ceiling contain Jesus' relatives, the larger portraits are prophets and sibyls, and the middle panels are from Genesis - including the creation of Man.

God's cloud is the anatomical shape of the human brain, i.e. Michelangelo was saying that the mind comes from God. He was keen on exact details and used Resurrection men to get corpses to dissect and study; this was punishable by death. However, Michelangelo was well connected with the Medici family, so he got away with it.

The Last Judgement is stunning (as well as being the largest painting by just one man).

Michelangelo gave St Bartholomew (the saint who was skinned alive) his own face in the skin the saint is holding - just to the right of Jesus.

The pope after the one who commissioned the painting was more conservative and paid Michelangelo's pupil Daniele da Volterra to paint underwear on the people!

As we were part of a tour, we didn't have to queue up yet again for St Peter's - we went in through a smaller door.

St Peter's dome is a dome within a dome - you can go up a lift, then climb 600 steps to the top between the two domes, but we decided to pass.

The square holds 350,000 people standing (but they were starting to set up seating for Easter).

You can also see the Pope's apartment from the square. The second window from the right is where he does the Sunday blessings and the third from the right is his bedroom.

The obelisk was brought to Rome by Caligula in AD36 and once stood in Nero's Circus at the spot where Peter was martyred. In 1586, Sixtus V had it moved to its present spot; apparently it took 4 months and had to be done in silence, on pain of death.

St Peter's was impressive, right from the doors.

The original church was built by Constantine AD 326 on the site where Peter was buried. There have been several subsequent rebuildings.

Michelangelo's PietĂ  is just stunning. Hard to believe he was only 25 when he sculpted it.

Loved St Peter's sepulchre.

The rest can speak for itself.

Then we went to see the tombs of the Popes (no photographs allowed). John Paul II is still clearly much loved as there are so many flowers.

We saw the Swiss Guard...

... then headed out to have lunch (bucatini with amertriciano sauce). The city area is very, very pretty.


Morton S Gray said...

I loved St Peter's sepulchre too - such lovely energy. Enjoying your trip to reminisce about mine. Thank you. Mx

Carol said...

I am absolutely loving my 'tour' of Rome, never having been myself. Thanks so much for sharing it in such detail. Your photos are stunning.

Nas Dean said...

Lovely photos, thanks for sharing!

Kate Hardy said...

Morton - glad it's bringing back good memories for you!

Kate Hardy said...

Carol - glad you're enjoying it. And I think it would be really hard to take bad pictures of Rome, because it's such an amazing place.

Kate Hardy said...

Nas - glad you're enjoying them. (And thanks again for having me on your blog!)

Shirley Wells said...

I'm loving this tour of Rome. It's reminding me that I should go book a holiday, but still...

I never knew Michelangelo had short arms. Love that! :)