Wednesday, July 16, 2014

148. ... The Vatican Museums

Today my mission is to visit the Vatican Museums - two bus rides from my apartment and I am at the gates nice and early - I have taken friends' advice and pre-purchased my ticket on the Internet and booked in for a 9am entry. At 8.30 the ticket queue is already at least 400m long - did some of these people sleep the night here ... ??? ... but with my ticket and ID in hand I get straight through and up into the Museum with no queuing at all - except a slight delay while I empty my pockets at the security check.

the 8.30am queue of silly people who hadn't pre-purchased their tickets ...


The Vatican Museums originated as a group of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II (1503-1513) and placed in the Cortile Ottagono within the museum complex. As seen today, the Vatican Museums are a complex of different pontifical museums and galleries that began under the patronage of the popes Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pius VI (1775-1799). ( The popes were among the first sovereigns who opened the art collections of their palaces to the public thus promoting knowledge of art history and culture ). 

 




Starting with the Egyptian chamber, then moving through the various galleries, I finally ended up in the Sistine Chapel a couple of hours later, then a quick wander around a small part of the garden and that was it - not the most exciting experience during my time in Rome.


The crowds inside were pretty major and noisy and making your way through this Museum is a bit like visiting an Ikea store - you have to follow the arrows and there is no going against the flow - if you want to return back to look at something that caught your attention earlier, it's go to the very end and then back to the beginning and start again ... !!! ...




I do apologise for the lack of titles to the images in this blog - but with the crowds as they were, it was difficult enough just getting a photograph of the artwork, let alone making a note of the artist and title etc ...







































detail ...



detail ...

























The Sistine Chapel is perhaps the most talked about attraction in the complex - no photography is permitted inside the Chapel - however I found it a rather disappointing anti-climax. Firstly it was extremely crowded with fellow-tourists which made standing there very uncomfortable, and secondly the chamber is very dull and badly lit ( probably in an effort to preserve the magnificent work ... ) and the experience not as rewarding as I had expected.





















Where have all the penises gone ... ???

Wandering through the Vatican Museums there is something obviously missing - you can't help but observe that at least 90% of the male statues have had their private parts tampered with ... !!! ... testes left intact but the penises obviously hammered off ... other more fortunate fellas have had a very small fig leaf attached - but that looks very unnatural ... so what about all those penises ... ???


Asking the Museum guards just got me "this-bloke-is-a-touble-maker...call-security"  look, and researching the issue on the Internet doesn't come up with any helpful answers either ...


Apparently – so the fable runs - way back in the 16th century when Martin Luther was busy criticizing the Catholic Church the pope of the day became more circumspect and started sharpening his chisel. And then there is another story that Pope Pius IX - in the late 19th century - in a conservative streak - once ran through the Vatican at night with a hammer and chisel doing the dirty deed. But no definite answer to the puzzle ...

Fortunately - so it is rumoured - the severed members have been saved and that several boxes of the male organs can be found in the Vatican storage rooms – probably waiting for a cardinal with a steady hand and a very large tube of super glue to undertake the restoration. Who knows ... just one more secret held in the Vatican vaults ...










The dome of St Peters through the Vatican Gardens ...

The Carriage Museum - set up by Paul VI in 1973
- houses an interesting collection of carriages 
and automobiles used by popes and cardinals -









the vehicle we are more familiar with ...
 
After a couple of hours of being pushed and shoved and not enjoying myself one bit, I found the exit sign and it was down the spiral staircase and back out into the crowded street ...




... and getting close to midday, even more people were queuing up to squeeze into the already jammed-full Museum ...



I don't like to speak negatively about any of my museum experiences as every individual has different expectations - and by and large I have enjoyed just about every museum I have visited over the past 12  months - but I have to say something about the Vatican Museum - for no other reason than to just to warn intending visitors if nothing else ...


The crowds in the Museum were totally unbearable - especially the rude tour groups whose even-ruder leaders seem to think they have right of way and always take up position in front of the major works that the rest of us were looking at ... in most cases their banter is very noisy and distracts from the beauty of the place ...

The works on show within the Museum were - in my uneducated opinion - definitely second-rate inferior when compared to the stunning art in other less-crowded and less-expensive museums around the city ... ( see my previous blogs and make up your own opinion ). Apart from beautiful frescoes and stunning painted ceilings, this museum had very little to offer that is isn't available - and presented in a more relaxed atmosphere - elsewhere.
   
My suggestion to fellow-tourists would be to save your money and invest the E20 ( Aust $30 ) in a more relaxed and enjoyable luncheon at one of the many delightful cafes dotted about this glorious city. However if you do insist on visiting the Vatican Museums - 1. make sure you pre-purchase your ticket and 2. be at the head of the queue at the opening time of 9am ...