Mar 28 2010

For Fun: A tour of the Sistine Chapel

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Sistine Chapel (Italian: Cappella Sistina) is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture, evocative of Solomon’s Temple of the Old Testament, and its decoration which has been frescoed throughout by the greatest Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and Sandro Botticelli. Under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2) of the chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512. He resented the commission, and believed his work only served the Pope’s need for grandeur. However, today the ceiling, and especially The Last Judgement, are widely believed to be Michelangelo’s crowning achievements in painting.

The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored the old Cappella Magna between 1477 and 1480. During this period a team of painters that included Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio created a series of frescoed panels depicting the life of Moses and the life of Christ, offset by papal portraits above and trompe l’oeil drapery below. These paintings were completed in 1482, and on August 15, 1483,[1] Sixtus IV consecrated the first mass in honor of Our Lady of the Assumption.

Since the time of Sixtus IV, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new Pope is selected.

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