Friday, January 6, 2012

Visit to the Sistine Chapel, Rome

Visit to the Sistine Chapel, Rome

Amid the masterpieces
Sakal Times, Pune 


Published on December 25, 2011
 Parkhe recalls how he soaked in the ambience of Sistine Chapel during his recent tour of the Vatican Museums 
While entering the Vatican Museums, which include the famous Sistine Chapel, one’s mind is filled with rich expectations. There is so much written about the paintings of the Renaissance artists Michaelangelo and Raphael. Therefore, I almost grew impatient as I, along with my family, waited in a long serpentine queue to enter the Vatican Museums. There were many touts approaching tourists to offer them entry tickets with premium Euros to jump the queue. But not prepared to take the risk of being duped, we waited patiently. To our pleasant surprise, we soon reached the entrance, and purchased the entry coupons.
While the visit to St Peter’s Basilica and its spacious campus is free of cost, the entry fee for visiting the Vatican Museums is 14 Euros for adults and eight Euros for children below 16 years. There is some concession for Catholic priests wearing the Roman collar. Having visited other museums and tourist attractions around Europe, I found this fee quite exorbitant. But the desire to visit the museum made me think beyond those calculations.
The museums in the Vatican are a series of galleries adorned with statues, paintings, relics and draperies from the ancient, medieval and the Renaissance periods. For the connoisseurs of art and culture, research scholars in history and archeology, and anthropologists, a visit to these museums is a golden opportunity.
But, the movement in the Vatican Museums is one way and the visitors cannot turn back to the entry point. They are constantly on the move towards the exit. So for an average visitor, there is not much time to stand at one place to admire an exhibit for a long time. There are thousands of exhibits, and visitors must rush from one gallery to the other to see them. It can take a few weeks to observe minutely all the art pieces.
We decided to go slow when we entered the illuminated galleries that are decorated with draperies.  As we walked, I suddenly realised that we had entered the famous Sistine Chapel, which used to be the venue for the conclave of cardinals to elect the new pope, and where Michaelangelo created his wonderful paintings. Michaelangelo, who was commissioned by the Pope in 1508, took several years to create these paintings.
Soon it became clear that the atmosphere and the mood in Sistine Chapel, named after Pope Sixtus IV, is far different from the other Vatican museums. It is a chapel — a sacred place, and tourists have to maintain decorum here.
Ignoring our complaining necks, we looked up — and were thrilled to see the precision and aesthetics with which the great artist used bright colours to create the masterpieces. Equally thrilling was coming face-to-face with the Last Judgement. Just behind the altar at the Chapel, this grand painting made me speechless. The scale of all these frescoes put me in a trance, as I soaked in the ambience to my heart’s content.
And after all that, I changed my opinion. The entry fee may have been heavy on pocket, but the masterpieces at these museums are so priceless and fascinating that it is worth every Euro.

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