Our guide was extremely knowledgable -- and about 3/4 of the way through the tour I realized that I had reached the saturation point with information, but I kept listening because I didn't want to miss one detail!
I thought we were walking for miles -- we then entered the rooms Rafael and members of his workshop painted. Our guide told us that the only one that Rafael himself painted was the third room.
I also admired the wood work, the ceilings, the floors. It was overwhelming the beauty of the Vatican. It was also a much welcomed window into the origins of faith.
We continued our walk through the Rafael rooms, our guide giving us background and importance of the various images. One was more beautiful than the other.
We finally made it to the Sistine Chapel. A dream come true for me. You are not allowed to take pictures nor are you allowed to talk in the Chapel. The photo taking was at the minimum for those who decided to ignore the rules, but it was the talking I felt was the most disrespectful of this very sacred space. I made my way to the center of the room, getting pushed by all the people around me. I made my way to the center, took a breath and looked up. Somehow the sea of people and the noise were all gone -- I felt totally alone, as if I had the whole room to myself. I couldn't catch my breath -- the beauty of the story of creation unfolding above me had me completely focused on the immensity and beauty of this work of art. We had 25 minutes in the room to take in all we could -- and it seemed as though I was in there only for 25 seconds. The history of the room, the importance of it -- all the important decisions and prayers that have been made and offered there -- I was walking in history, and I felt it to the core of my being.
I walked out of there speechless.
We said goodbye to our Guide outside, after he pointed out the papal apartment -- and let us know that Pope Francis chose not to live there, but in a much more modest set of rooms near the garden.
Here are more pictures from our time in the Museum and Basilica.