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The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel, known as “the Chapel of the Nativity” was commissioned by Pope Sixtus between 1585 and 1587. Domenico Fontana, trusted architect of the Pope, built the largest chapel in Rome at that time, based on a Greek Cross floor plan with two subsidiary chapels. With a tambour interspersed with eight large windows, it encompasses the Oratory of the Nativity on the lower floor, which can be reached via a double staircase. Originally located on the Basilica’s right nave, the oratory, whose nucleus dates back to the early Middle Ages, is a likeness of the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The Tabernacle by Ludovico del Duca in gilded bronze is a key theological element of the entire Sistine Chapel. With its porticos and columns wrapped by grape vines, it evokes the Temple of Solomon and expresses, above all, the literal meaning of the name of the city in which Jesus was born: “Bethlehem”, the house of bread.

The frescoes and works in stucco were entrusted to a team of many artists under the direction of Cesare Nebbia and Giovanni Guerra. Their work depicts the story of Jesus’ childhood.

On the sides are funeral monuments for Pope Sixtus V and Saint Pius V.