Cortile del Belvedere in Vatican

Cortile del Belvedere Vatican: Courtyard, Statues & More

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The original design for the Belvedere Court Vatican City was supposed to create a wide open space. At one end, the Villa Belvedere Rome would stand proud, holding its own against the Vatican Palace at the other end.

Designed by Bramante in the early 16th century, it was a stunning extension to the Vatican Palace. 100 years later the courtyard was split in half by other structures – notably the Vatican Library. Let’s find out more about it here.

History Of Cortile Del Belvedere

In 1484 Pope Innocent VIII built a villa that looked out over the former St Peter’s Basilica. This corner villa – the Villa Belvedere Rome – with its beautiful views over the Vatican, took the name Belvedere.

Later, Pope Julius III commissioned Bramante to design a wonderful courtyard that would not only link the two buildings but also expand the Vatican into a mega complex. This, Julius believed, would be an awesome throwback to the grand old days of Roman architecture.

Cortile Del Belvedere And Bramante

The Cortile del Belvedere Bramante design is known for being the founding father of many a grand courtyard throughout Europe. The original draughtsman for the design of the new St Peter’s Basilica, Bramante had an extensive CV before this commission.

The consequences of his novel design – unattempted before – was one of the most striking of its time. Bramante died in 1514 and the remainder of the works were completed – and slightly altered – under Pius IV. Let’s explore the architecture of together.

Cortile Del Belvedere Architecture

The natural slope between the Belvedere Villa and the Vatican provided an opportunity for Bramante to try out his design skills as he constructed the Cortile del Belvedere plan. Using a set of terraces, he flattened out the space, incorporating symmetrical staircases to allow access.

Along the wings, he designed the enclosed spaces that are home to part of the vast collections of the Vatican Museum. This allowed easy access in all weather and in all security between the Belvedere Villa and the Vatican Palace.

The optimal viewpoint of the courtyard was intended to be within the Raphael Rooms inside the Pope’s Apartments. The effect of the Cortile del Belvedere landscape architecture would be attempted to be copied throughout Europe.

The Division of the Cortile del Belvedere

In 1595, long after Bramante’s death, Pope Sixtus V built part of the Vatican Library across the courtyard. Whilst this largely spoils the effect of the original design – and bisects the courtyard in two – there is rumour that it was done intentionally.

As the courtyard held a number of statues and sculptures that could only be defined as pagan in nature, perhaps the Pope was trying to hide them from view of the Vatican. The split in two means the courtyard is now known by the Cortile del Belvedere on the lower side, whilst the upper end is now called the Cortille della Pigna.

Breathtaking Cortile Del Belvedere Garden

Villa in Rome

The Belvedere Garden should not be confused with the Vatican Gardens) which covers the area designed by Bramante and more.

A collection of monuments, sculptures and fountains, coupled with green areas and trees, makes for an oasis within the Vatican City. It is not possible to visit the formal gardens alone – you must take a tour with a registered guide. Find out more here in order to book your tickets.

Which Statues Can You See at the Belvedere Courtyard at the Vatican?

Pope Julius II began the tradition of keeping statues in the Belvedere Courtyard. Behind the terraces, an octagonal courtyard houses many interesting works to this day.

The “Apollo Belvedere” statue can be found here, as can the “Laocoön and His Sons.” They form a collection of Vatican Courtyard statues.

Get Belvedere Court Vatican City Tickets

Cortile del Belvedere in Vatican City

Many Vatican City tours will incorporate a stop at the Belvedere Courtyard and the Villa Belvedere Rome.

Check out this Vatican City and Sistine Chapel Tour which starts at around €43, and includes a detailed tour of the courtyard.

Vatican City travel tips Tip – If you fancy having your guide all to yourself, a private tour of around three hours such as this one starts at about €310.

Belvedere Court Vatican City – Best Time To Visit & Opening Hours

Days Opening Hours
Monday - Saturday 9am to 6pm
Sunday Closed

This astonishing place is open from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm. You can visit it as part of a Vatican City trip.

So even if you do not plan to do a tour, you will still need a ticket for the Vatican Museums. The best time to visit is just before closing.

How to Get to the Cortile del Belvedere

Take Metro Line A to Cipro or Ottaviano stations and then walk.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Vatican Museum

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When was the Cortile del Belvedere built?

It was constructed beginning in 1505.

Why is Belvedere palace in the Vatican important today?

The grandeur of the Belvedere Palace and the Cortile del Belvedere echos that of ancient Rome.

Who built the Belvedere court in the Vatican?

The Cortile del Belvedere was designed by Bramante.

How do you enter the Cortile del Belvedere?

You can visit the courtyard as part of a visit to the Vatican Museums.


A trip to the Vatican Museum is not complete without a stop by the Cortile del Belvedere! Plan what else you want to see when you visit the Vatican by checking out our other resources here.

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