Some of the most famous works by Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarotti are located in Rome and the Vatican City. Famous masterpieces, such as the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel, can be found in the Italian capital as can other fantastic sculptures and architectural designs. Here is a list of Michelangelo's great works – and where to find them – in Rome and the Vatican City.
Sistine Chapel Frescoes
In order to see the incredible frescoes that Michelangelo painted on the ceiling and altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, one must pay a visit to the Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani) in Vatican City. Michelangelo painstakingly worked on these incredible images of scenes from the Old Testament and The Last Judgment from 1508-1512. The Sistine Chapel is the highlight of the Vatican Museums and it is located at the end of the tour. Learn more about the Sistine Chapel and visiting Vatican City.
This famous sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding her dying son in her arms is one of Michelangelo's most tender and refined works and it is located in Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Michelangelo completed this sculpture in 1499 and it is a masterpiece of Renaissance art. Due to past attempts to vandalize the sculpture, the Pieta is located behind glass in a chapel to the right of the basilica entrance.
Piazza del Campidoglio
A lesser-known Michelangelo work is the design for the elliptical square on top of the Capitoline Hill, the site of Rome's government and one of the must-see squares in Rome. Michelangelo drew up plans for the cordonata (the wide, monumental stairway) and the intricate geometric pattern of the Piazza del Campidoglio in approximately 1536, but it was not completed until long after his death. The piazza is a beautiful example of civic planning and it is best viewed from the buildings of the Capitoline Museums, which frame it on two sides.
Moses in San Pietro in Vincoli
In San Pietro in Vincoli, a church near the Colosseum, you will find Michelangelo's monumental marble of Moses, which he sculpted for the tomb of Pope Julius II. Moses and the surrounding statues of the composition in this church were to be part of a far more grandiose tomb, but Julius II was instead buried in Saint Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo's unfinished sculptures of "Four Prisoners," which are today located in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, were also supposed to accompany this work.
Cristo della Minerva
This statue of Christ in the beautiful Gothic church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is far less impressive than the Michelangelo's other sculptures, but rounds out a Michelangelo tour in Rome. Completed in 1521, the sculpture depicts Christ, in a contrapposto stance, holding up his cross. Oddly, this sculpture is also wearing a loin cloth, a Baroque-era addition meant to make decent Michelangelo's nude sculpture.
Michelangelo was in charge of designing the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels and Martyrs around the ruins of the frigidarium part of the ancient Baths of Diocletian (the rest of the baths now form the National Museum of Rome). This interior of this cavernous church has largely changed since Michelangelo designed it. Yet it a fascinating building to visit in order to get a sense of the size of the ancient baths as well as Michelangelo's genius in designing around them.