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La Pieta, Vatican City

#6 of 45 in Things to do in Vatican City
Monument · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
A masterpiece of Renaissance art and arguably one of the most moving sculptures ever created, Michelangelo’s La Pieta depicts the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus Christ. This statue is the most notable work inside Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Michelangelo was only 24 when he carved this complex work of art from a single slab of marble. He chose to show the Virgin as a youthful woman in repose, rather than the older, grieving Mary of most other works on the same subject. Unique among Michelangelo’s sculptures, this is signed as his own, allegedly to prevent viewers from confusing his work with that of a competing sculptor. Legend has it that Michelangelo broke into the church after finishing his work and hurriedly chiseled his name into the sculpture before anyone noticed he was there. Make La Pieta a centerpiece of your Vatican City vacation itinerary, and find what else is worth visiting using our Vatican City trip planner.
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  • Seeing La Pieta in person is the only way to really appreciate the emotion that Michelangelo was able to create out of marble. You really feel her pain and her joy.  more »
  • The Pieta by Michelangelo is one of my favorite works of art, and it does not disappoint in person. To see it you should enter St. Peter's Basilica, which has free admission. Due to a history of...  more »
  • We all know everything about Michelangelo’s sculpture. Seeing her live is an incredible experience. That is why the people in charge of its protection had to connect two large protective glasses elsewhere and not exactly in front of the sculpture. It spoils the atmosphere and the observation.
  • As a young 22 year old sculptor from Florence, Michelangelo had his first big break in Rome with his carving of the Pieta. The statue depicts a youthful Virgin Mary holding her fallen son, Jesus, after the crucifixion. The work is innovative because it blends Classical themes with Naturalism. Our Lady is depicted as a beautiful youth to evoke Mary’s incorruptible purity. The work was even deemed so beautiful that some in Rome doubted That Michelangelo sculpted it, and they began attributing it to another artist. To remove all doubt for future generations, Michelangelo Etched his signature into the marble. Upon entering St. Peter’s Basilica, the Michelangelo’s Pieta Can be found immediately in the chapel on the right.

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