Highlights of this tour

  •  The Vatican Museums from a Jewish perspective
  •  The Sistine Chapel interpreting Michelangelo’s messages
  •  Historical Survey of the Jewish Presence in Rome
  •  The Jewish Lapidarium
  •  Saint Peter’s Basilica
  •  Saint Peter’s Square

THE JEWISH VATICAN EXPERIENCE

The Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Basilica are not only an absolute must for visitors of any faith and provenance, but also offer to Jewish visitors very specific reasons of enormous interest and surprise.

Consider that the Jews settled in Rome well before the birth of Jesus , not so say about the establishment of the Papacy. Easy to imagine that not all the Popes were nice to the Jews, however this was not always true. During our Vatican tour we’ll have many occasions to fully investigate this topic.

Everyone should know that inside the Vatican Museums there’s an extraordinary work of art that needs to be interpreted from a Jewish viewpoint to be fully interpreted and judged: that is the Sistine Chapel.

The restoration of the huge frescoes started in 1980 and was completed in 1999: together with the vibrancy of colors employed by Michelangelo to narrate the Genesis and the Last Judgement many details, formerly covered by layers of dirt and re-paintings came into view, striking the attention of many scholars.

Professor Benjamin Blech and writer-lecturer Roy Doliner are the co-authors of “The Sistine Secrets”, a fascinating book – nothing to share with fictions such as Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ – focusing on the hidden messages, that Michelangelo embedded in the enormous fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

These messages were concealed under the nose of Pope Julius II, who Michelangelo despised as corrupt and immoral, come from the Talmud, the Qabbalah and the Midrash, that the artist seems to know well.
Our Jewish Vatican Discovery will stress the accent on Michelangelo’s deep knowledge of Jewish religious and mystical texts, that he derived from world-famous humanists Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola at the court of the Medici in Florence. These people knew Hebrew, Aramaic and studied the texts in depth.

Your guide will point out the most relevant details on the great Genesis above your heads: figures of prophets looking like Hebrew letters, prophet Aminadab wearing a yellow “O” on his arm, the Serpent of Adam and Eve having legs and arms as only in the Midrash, Adam offering Eve a fig not an apple
Our Jewish Vatican Discovery guide will discuss about the reasons why Michelangelo decided

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to conceal all these secret details: just to scorn the Pope, that he hated, or also to express his empathy for all things Jewish and his belief that the Church should have gone back to the Torah to find its pureness again.
After the Sistine Chapel we will spend some time visiting the spectacular Galleries of Maps, Tapestries, Statues, and the Hall of Busts. These awesome collections will fill your eyes and heart with beauty!

The tour then continues with the Jewish Lapidary, witnessing the presence of a thriving Jewish community in Ancient Rome, and goes into St Peter’s Basilica, to admire another absolute masterpiece we owe to the genius of Michelangelo: la Pieta’, whose symbology also hints at the Jewish texts the author knew so well.

The Jewish Vatican Discovery tour lasts three hours can be done early morning if you wish to skip the lines.
We’ll be glad to assist you with the bookings of the Vatican Museums but please let us know when you’re coming well in advance! You might also like to have a look at our Jewish Heritage section for more tours.

More about the long history of the Jews in Italy here.

Cost of this tour

  • This tour lasts approximately 3 hours and costs: 280 euro up to 6 people
  • Only private parties.
  • For larger parties: please send us an email!
  • Admission fees can vary according to the time frame selected (early morning, evening, etc.)
  •  The earlier you book the easier will be to accomodate you!

Dress Code and advice

  • No shorts, no sleeveless garments
  • Please wear comfortable shoes and a hat in summer