Raphael Rooms Vatican

Raphael Rooms Vatican: Fascinating Things You Need to See

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Commissioned by Pope Julius II for his own personal use – and finished by subsequent Popes after his death – the four rooms were decorated by Raphael. The key feature is the artwork which adorns the walls and ceilings. Much like the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo, those visiting will get a wow factor when viewing the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican.

What Are the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican City?

Julius II commissioned the young Raphael in around 1503 to begin work on some personal apartments for himself. Two of the stunning rooms were completed within Julius’ lifetime before he died in 1513. Each room depicts religious, political and historical scenes common at the time.

Where Are the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican City?

The Raphael Rooms are located in the Vatican City – within the museums. There is a section of Papal apartments here which is open to the public on the second floor.

Wondering How Many Raphael Rooms Are in the Vatican?

Four rooms suites make up the Raphael Rooms and the rooms are named after the themes depicted within them:

  1. The Sala di Costantino
  2. The Stanza di Eliodoro
  3. The Stanza della Segnatura and
  4. The Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo

5 Must-visit Raphael Rooms Paintings & Frescoes

Check out the must-see paintings in this stunning suite of rooms below:

  1. The School of Athens
  2. Disputation of the Holy Sacrament
  3. The Expulsion of the Heliodorus
  4. The Baptism of Constantine
  5. The Battle of Ostia

What You Can See in the Constantine Room in the Raphael Rooms

Raphael Room of Constantine

The Sala di Costantino contains some epic scenery. Interestingly however, the rooms were not started in the time of Raphael, rather they were done after his death. As a result it is fair to say that these works aren’t as well known as the Raphael pieces. The theme in this suite is conversion to Christianity over Paganism.

Some of the works include:

  • The Vision of the Cross: Depicting a vision Constantine had as he was marching to battle. In this fresco, a vision appears in the clouds overhead. In Greek, the words “By this, conquer” also appear.
  • The Battle of Milvian Bridge: This section is the depiction of the battle to which Constantine was heading. It is believed to have happened around 312 AD.
  • The Baptism of Constantine: Showing Constantine being baptised by Pope Sylvester, this fresco takes up the tradition of the time by painting the features of the current Pope (Pope Clement VII) onto Sylvester.
  • The Donation of Constantine: Apparently this event occured not long after the baptism, when Constantine gave the Pope control of sovereignty over Rome’s territories.

What to See in Room of Heliodorus in the Raphael Rooms

What to see in Room of Heliodorus

The Stanza di Elidoro carries a theme of divine protection that Jesus gives to the catholic church.

  • The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple: This fresco depicts a biblical story whereby Helidorous attempts to steal treasure from the temple and is stopped by angels.
  • The Mass at Bolsena: This painting tells the tale of a 13th century priest who witnessed bread bleeding during mass and therefore began to believe in transubstantiation.
  • The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila: Interesting because the original sketch by Raphael used the features of Pope Julius. However, by the time the fresco was completed, it was the new Pope Leo X’s face that was depicted.
  • Deliverance of Saint Peter: The story of St Peter being rescued from prison in Acts 12 is depicted in this interesting fresco. Three scenes capture the story, with different types of light being the key feature.

The Raphael Room of the Signatura

Raphael stanza della segnatura

The Stanza della segnatura became the first room completed within the suite. Constructed in order to hold the Pope’s library, the scenes depict elements important to the papacy.

  • Disputation of the Holy Sacrament: A mass being conducted on both heaven and earth are the feature in one of the earliest frescoes of Raphael’s team here.
  • The Parnassus: A gathering of poets and muses from the past and the time of the painting are depicted here.
  • The School of Athens: Many argue that this painting is the most famous amongst the collections. The acquisition of knowledge is the main theme.
  • The Cardinal Virtues: These frescoes framing the door represent the different virtues important to the church, including faith, charity and hope.

Take a Look at the Raphael Rooms – Fire in the Borgo

Raphael Rooms Fire in the Borgo

Stanza dell'incendio del Borgo gives name to this room, due to the fresco depicting a fire in the Borgo area of the city.

  • The Oath of Leo III: A scene depicting a real life oath taken by Pope Leo III is shown here.
  • The Coronation of Charlemagne: A Christmas day coronation for Charlemagne shows up here.
  • Fire in the Borgo: In 847 a fire broke out in the Borgo district. This fresco shows Pope Leo IV containing the fire with his benediction.
  • The Battle of Ostia: This scene depicts a battle victory over the Saracens.

How Long Do You Need to View Everything

The Raphael Rooms are located within the Vatican City. You will need a full day to explore the full list of attractions in the complex. For the suite that is the Raphael Rooms, expect to spend around thirty minutes.

How to Get Tickets to the Raphael Rooms

Get entry to the Raphael Rooms as part of tickets to the Vatican Museums. Basic tickets start at around €17 full fare. If travelling in high season or other peak periods you may also want to consider booking a skip the line ticket. Follow our guide to Vatican Museum tickets.

Raphael Rooms Virtual Tour

If you want to check out the suites before your visit, the Vatican Museums offers this cool virtual tour function!

Opening Hours – When to Visit?

Days Opening Hours
Monday - Saturday 8.30am - 4.30pm
Sunday Closed

The Vatican Museum opening hours are 8.30am – 4.30pm. The museum is closed usually on Sundays.

Hotels Near the Raphael Rooms

The area around the Vatican has plenty of accommodation on offer. For a touch of luxury check out the San Pietro Leisure and Luxury on the Clivo di Sant’ Antonino. With stylish rooms and a good breakfast, you are just 800 metres from St Peter’s Square. A double room starts at around €90.

Vatican Style Rome is another good option. A bit more expensive, with rooms starting at €170 and breakfast at €10, you can pick a room with a jacuzzi in the bath!

Frequently Asked Questions

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How many Rooms did Raphael paint in the Vatican?

The Raphael Rooms consist of 4 rooms within a larger suite of papal apartments. He painted some and directed his team in the completion of others. Still other frescoes were finished off after his death.

Are the Raphael rooms the Papal apartments?

The Raphael Rooms are part of the Papal Apartments but form a section that is open to the public within the Vatican Museums.

Who do the Raphael Rooms metaphorically portray?

The Raphael Rooms contain frescoes that portray famous figures from biblical history, “current” popes (at the time of Raphael’s life) and other famous celebrities of the time such as poets.


Do not miss out on this stunning suite of rooms when visiting the Vatican Museums. For more information on how to get skip-the-line tickets and other attractions, check out our extensive guides to the Vatican.

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