Papal chapel in the Vatican Palace, Rome, constructed 1473–81 by Giovanni dei Dolci for Pope Sixtus IV (for whom it is named). It is the site of the principal papal ceremonies. Its exterior is drab and unadorned, but its interior walls and ceiling are decorated with frescoes by Florentine Renaissance masters, including Perugino, Pinturicchio, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Luca Signorelli. Portions of the walls were once covered with tapestries designed by Raphael (1515–19). The most important works are the frescoes by Michelangelo on the ceiling and the western wall behind the altar, considered among the greatest achievements of Western painting. The ceiling frescoes, depicting Old Testament scenes, were commissioned by Pope Julius II and painted 1508–12; the Last Judgment fresco on the western wall was painted 1536–41 for Pope Paul III. A controversial 10-year cleaning and restoration of the ceiling was completed in 1989, and of the western wall in 1994.
Learn more about Sistine Chapel with a free trial on Britannica.com.