Gallery of Maps in the Vatican Museum
The Gallery of Maps is one of the most interesting sections in the gigantic Vatican Museums, one of the most visited museums in the world. In a 120 meter long room, 40 large maps of different regions of Italy can be seen on the walls. The maps date back to the 16th century.
The maps are integrated directly into the walls as frescoes. On the left side are maps from the east of Italy, on the right side from the west of Italy. First you see, coming from the entrance of the Vatican Museum, the map frescoes from the south of Italy. You continue in a northerly direction. In the Gallery of Maps you can also find some maps of the most important cities of Italy.
Our tip: Buy tickets without queuing on the Internet
In the Vatican Museum, you can theoretically buy an entrance ticket at the box office, but you usually have to queue for hours. Often, the queue along the wall around the Vatican is several hundred metres long, often even one kilometre and more. Many museum visitors now have tickets with preferential admission. These are available in advance on the Internet.
A combination ticket for the Vatican with a museum and St. Peter’s Cathedral is also very popular. St. Peter’s Basilica is theoretically free, but there are very long queues. We even waited 2 hours in December.
In Italian, the gallery with the maps in the Vatican Museum is called “Galleria delle carte geografiche”, in English “Gallery of Maps”. The long room, which looks like a corridor, is on its way from the entrance of the Vatican Museums to the rear area with the Sistine Chapel. You can hardly miss the area with the geographical maps. You get here automatically by following the signs to Cappella Sistina.
The Karten-Saal has a length of 120 meters (about as long as a football pitch!), but is less than 10 meters wide. Its shape fits very well with the geographical shape of Italy (the long and narrow boot). The maps on the walls are beautifully painted. They are not only useful maps, but also works of art. Of course the maps are rather inaccurate from today’s point of view. They represent Italy geographically as you imagined the country to be in the 16th century.
There other great sights are the paintings on the ceiling in the “Galleria delle carte geografiche”. Here you find pictures with mostly religious motives, which are often in a geographical connection with the neighbouring maps on the wall..
The geographer Ignazio Danzi made the frescoes with the maps from about 1581 to 1583. He at least drew the sketches for the maps, other painters from his team made the frescoes. The client was the then Pope Gregory XIII, who came from Bologna.
There are 40 huge fresco maps on the walls in a very long room. The hall has the incredible length of 120 meters, but is only 8 meters wide. The frescoes depict different regions in Italy and other countries, as was known at the end of the 16th century..
It is interesting to note that the 40 frescoes depict Italy, although the unity of Italy only became reality much later. The unity of Italy was virtually anticipated.
Combi ticket: Vatican & Colosseum
Many visitors to Rome want to see the Colosseum and the Vatican, the two absolute highlights of the city of Rome. There is a practical combination ticket for this: ——>>>> CLICK HERE: More info and booking
Individual maps (examples)
Some of the maps show the big islands around Italy like Sicily, Sardinia, Malta or Corsica.
Some regions of Italy are divided into several maps (for example, Marches 3 maps). The map of Piedmont contains for example a city map of Turin, Liguria a map of Genoa and so on. Sometimes ports are also shown. We especially liked a picture with the port of Ancona.
At the end there are also two maps showing the whole of Italy (old Italy and modern Italy). The representation of Venice is also very interesting. On some maps you can also see other things from the respective regions, for example typical plants from Sicily.
Our recommendation: Very good guided tour through the Vatican Museum
Most visitors buy a ticket to the Vatican Museum without a guided tour. That’s fine. Somewhat more expensive, but much more interesting, are of course guided tours with a good guide. These are available in huge numbers in many languages, of course some also in English. An excellent and very popular and good tour in English can be booked on the great website Getyourguide. This tour also includes St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel
More information Vatican Gallery of Maps
The Vatican Gallery of Maps, also known as the Galleria delle Carte Geographice, is a department of the Vatican Museums dedicated to the exhibition of maps and geographical representations. The gallery was founded at the end of the 16th century by Pope Gregory XIII. Its purpose was to represent and display the geographical knowledge of the time. The gallery is located on the ground floor of the Belvedere Palace and covers 2,000 square metres.
Visitors to the Vatican Map Gallery will be amazed by the impressive collection of maps. Many of them date back to the Renaissance period. The gallery displays maps from all over the world, including maps of Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The maps were created using a variety of techniques, including hand-drawn illustrations, engravings and etchings.
One of the highlights in the Vatican Map Gallery is his series of 40 maps showing regions of Italy, published in the 16th century. The maps created by Ignazio Danti are considered the best example of Renaissance map art. They are true to detail and provide interesting insights into the geographical knowledge of the time.
In addition to the map collection, the Vatican Map Gallery also displays various related artefacts and documents such as atlases, globes and manuscripts. Visitors can also see a series of frescoes depicting the life of Saint Peter, the patron saint of the Vatican.
Overall, the Vatican Map Gallery is a must-see for anyone interested in cartography, geography and Renaissance history. The unique collection of maps and related artefacts offers a fascinating insight into the geographical knowledge of the past and the artistic techniques used to depict it. Whether you are a history or art lover, or simply curious about the world around us, the Vatican Map Gallery is a truly amazing and educational experience.