Archive for the ‘Vatican City’ Category

Why I’ve Never Seen the Sistine Chapel

January 2, 2012 1 comment
St Peter's Basilica

A Vatican City ceiling that I did actually get to see

Just how long is too long to stand in a queue?

The answer I suspect most people would give is that it depends entirely upon the event or attraction for which said queue has formed.

Now, while this may be true, I have discovered there is definitely a limit to how much patience a person can have, no matter how desirable the attraction at the other end of the line.

The reason I bring this up is because I recently attempted to visit the the Sistine Chapel on a morning it was reopened to the public after several days of preservation work (a fact I was unfortunately unaware of until I arrived at the entrance). This extended closure meant the number of people wanting to get inside – fairly sizeable even on a good day – had multiplied significantly, with close to a week’s worth of tourists now clamoring for entry at the one time.

On top of this, it was also a Wednesday, meaning the Pope (apparently he’s quite popular amongst those who frequent the Vatican) was giving his weekly address to the masses, inflating the number of people in the vicinity even further. Consequently, the line to enter the museum was absurdly long…about forty minutes long, in fact.

Now, before you say that forty minutes doesn’t sound like too long a wait for something as noteworthy as the Sistine Chapel, you might reconsider when you realise it wasn’t taking forty minutes to get from the end of the line into the Museum…it was taking forty minutes to walk from the Museum entrance to the end of the line.

If you’re confused, think about it carefully for a moment, and you’ll realise that’s one very long queue.

Even before we discovered how long it actually was, the vision of a gargantuan line snaking off into the distance and out of sight around the city wall was a fairly sizeable deterrent to going inside. Deciding, however, that the pay-off of seeing the Chapel exceeded the pain of an extended wait, my companion and I bravely set off to find the end. After following the line in vain for more than a kilometre though, it began to dawn on us just how long a wait we were in for and our enthusiasm began to seriously wane.

Ten minutes later, when we found ourselves still walking, yet not even remotely in sight of the end, we gave up any thought of actually getting inside and began following it simply for amusement value. The estimate of a six hour wait by one of the museum staff we spoke to along the way did nothing to help us reconsider abandoning our plans and doing something else.

Eventually, after another kilometre of solemn trudging, we did reach the last person in the queue (a forlorn and defeated looking figure if ever I saw one), but the thought of jumping in behind him and beginning a slow six hour shuffle to the Museum entrance was no longer even remotely appealing. Perhaps if I’d been staying another week, I might have considered it, but as it was my last day in Europe before flying back to Australia, it was hard to justify spending my remaining time standing in the street, waiting for a five minute glimpse of the Sistine Chapel, when I could walk away and spend my final afternoon viewing the multitude of other amazing sights on offer in Rome.

Not surprisingly, this is exactly what I did and that’s why, to this day, I’ve still never seen the Sistine Chapel.