Sistine Chapel Facts

The Sistine Chapel is a renowned chapel located in Vatican City and the official papal chapel. It was built between 1473 and 1481 by architect Baccio Pontelli and decorator Giovanni de’ Dolci.

The iconic ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, features Biblical scenes, including the Creation of Adam. Every year millions of visitors explore this stunning masterpiece, along with many other works of Renaissance art located within the chapel’s walls.

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Sistine Chapel Facts for Kids

  • The Sistine Chapel is in the Vatican City, Rome.
  • It was painted by Michelangelo in the 16th century.
  • The ceiling is famous for the “Creation of Adam” fresco.
  • The chapel is used for Catholic Church elections.
  • The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums.
  • The chapel’s name comes from Pope Sixtus IV, who commissioned it.

The Sistine Chapel is a stunning building set in Rome. It was built in 1473 and 1481 by Giovanni dei Dolci for Pope Sixtus IV. The name “Sistine” comes from the Italian word “Sisto’, due to the Pope’s investment funds.

The Sistine Chapel hosts masses and ceremonies, such as the election of a new pope if one dies. Its Latin name is ‘Sacellum Sixtinum,’ and its Italian name is ‘Cappella Sistina.’ It offers tourists an amazing sight – its frescoes painted by Michelangelo are among the most renowned works of art in Italy.

This chapel represents religious history, culture, beauty, and power – all rolled into one majestic Roman landmark. Tourists visit it to appreciate this timeless masterpiece of Michelangelo’s work, capturing its intricate details – a must-see in every traveler’s life!


The Sistine Chapel was built on the site of an older chapel. Pope Sixtus IV initiated its rebuilding in 1477, and so it was named after him. The brick building is 40.23m long and 13.40m wide. It had a plain exterior with nothing fancy inside. Popular painters like Botticelli and Rosselli were hired by Pope Sixtus IV to make it grand – the ceiling was just a blue sky with stars initially.

Later, Julius II decided to change some parts, which is why he commissioned Michelangelo for the work, who reluctantly accepted as he thought of himself as a sculptor, not a painter. He worked hard for four years to finish his frescoed ceiling in 1508 and wrote about sickness in a poem later on.

Years later, Michelangelo painted “The Last Judgment” on the altar from 1536 to 1541 at the age of 60s when Pope Clement VII commissioned him again for it. Thus, the iconic Sistine Chapel was reconstructed fully with Michelangelo’s help becoming an inspiring symbol today.


There are twelve paintings made by famous artists in 1481, called ‘frescoes,’ located in the middle section of a building. The artworks were painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli, Perugino, Cosimo Rosselli, Pinturicchio, Benedetto Ghirlandaio, Luca Signorelli, and Bartolomeo Della Gatta.

The stories they tell come from the Bible – north side: the life of Moses, south side: the life of Jesus. Placed above the stories are figures of hope near the windows.


The Sistine Chapel ceiling was originally painted blue and covered with golden stars. Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling in 1508. He worked for 3 years on a high floor, stretching his arms above his head. He painted nine pictures from the Book of Genesis and 12 figures of prophets and sibyls around the chapel walls. An additional 20 beautiful young men were painted on the ceiling.

When revealed, everyone was amazed at Michelangelo’s work. People from far and wide visit to admire it every day. In total, this project took him 3 years to complete with incredible detail, precision, and artistry. He painted what is known as one of the greatest pieces of western art history with his own two hands without any help or assistants (which he thought he did).

It is an awe-inspiring experience to visit the Sistine Chapel and explore its grandeur associated with such intricate details and biblical stories that go along with it. Truly a masterpiece!

The Last Judgement

Michelangelo was pleased to return to his sculpture. But in 1537, Pope Paul III ordered him to paint “The Last Judgement,” a large fresco on the wall above the altar. By 1541, it was complete.

The painting depicts Jesus judging mankind, sending some people to hell, and welcoming others with Saints into Heaven. Many priests were unhappy about the figures in the painting being nude, so another artist painted clothes onto them, including the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It featured different elements from various parts of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art, which made it unique and revolutionary. Despite being controversial at first, it has now become one of Michelangelo’s most renowned works and is admired worldwide for its complexity.

Important Facts and Overview

  • Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling using wet plaster.
  • Giorgio Vasari, a 16th-century art historian, wrote that the Sistine Chapel was “the most beautiful chapel in the world.”
  • The “Creation of Adam” is a famous painting on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.
  • The Sistine Chapel’s ceiling is curved, with a barrel vault design.
  • Black smoke from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney indicates a failed election for Pope, while white smoke signals a successful one.
  • The Sistine Chapel’s floor features intricate designs made from colored marble.