The Vatican Rooms of Raphael Sanzio

Raphael is the genius who created the beautiful Vatican Rooms. These are four rooms dedicated to the work and life of Popes Julius II and Leo X. A space where this artist from Urbino developed an unparalleled pictorial program.

The commission to Raphael of the Vatican Rooms

The Vatican Rooms are one of the masterpieces in the history of art. As we pointed out, there are four rooms commissioned by Pope Julius II and the creative genius of Rafael Sanzio, who, at just 25 years old, started this beautiful pictorial enterprise.

Thus, in 1508 Rafael receives the order. Pope Julius II had chosen as his residence within the Vatican Palaces different rooms from those of his predecessor, Pope Alexander VI. It begins by depicting the famous fresco of The School of Athensit seems that the only one that had been commissioned.

But the work This shocks the pope so much that he orders all existing frescoes to be scraped off. and let Rafael be in charge of decorating all the rooms. These frescoes belonged to such important artists as Piero della Francesca, Bramantino, Fray Bartolomeo della Catta or Luca Signorelli.

These are fully decorated rooms, both on the walls and on the ceiling, with classical representations. Three of them were painted mainly by Raphael and one, that of Constantine, was painted almost entirely by his disciples after the artist’s death. Some jewels that will leave you speechless if you visit them.

The four Vatican Rooms

The Hall of Signature

It was decorated between 1508 and 1511. It receives that name because immediately after finishing it, this room was destined to be the place where the most important documents of the papacy were signed and sealed. It was here that Rafael began painting the school of athens.

After her, the Pope asked him to continue with the pictorial program whose protagonists are Theology, Philosophy, Poetry and Justice. The reason is that it seems that the pontiff’s personal library was also planned to be installed in the room.


Theology would be present in the Sacrament Dispute and philosophy in School of Athens. Poetry is shown in the painting of The Parnassus. Meanwhile, the Law is found in the paintings of Saint Raymond of Peñafort delivering the Decretals to Gregory IX and in that of Justinian delivering the Pandects to Tribonian.

The Room of Heliodorus

It was made between 1511 and 1514. It is considered the most beautiful of the four rooms. In it, the pope appears represented in all the frescoes. What is characteristic of these paintings is that Raphael paints him with a beard in some and not in others, thus adapting to changes in look of the pope.


The frescoes in this room represent The expulsion of Heliodorus, The mass of Bolsena, The meeting of Leo the Great with Attila Y The Liberation of Saint Peter.

It is a pictorial program that sought to exalt the figure of Pope Julius II and its policy. We are talking about a time when the continuous struggles for hegemony in Europe between the crowns of Spain, France and the House of Habsburg endangered the independence of the Papal States.

The Room of the Borgo Fire

It is a small room decorated between 1514 and 1517 with Pope Julius II was intended to be the place that would occupy the High Court of the Vatican. However, with the arrival of the new pope, Leo X, it would change radically, becoming a private dining room for receptions with few guests.

In her, the frescoes will feature Pope Leo X. The episodes narrated by the frescoes are events from the lives of Leo III and Leo IV, but always with the face of Leo X. And we see greater independence in the art of his disciples, who begin to paint more with their own styles. And this, because Rafael would be taking charge of more works.


In this third room we can find the frescoes that refer to the Borgo Fire, The Battle of Ostia, The coronation of Charlemagne Y The justification of Leo III.

The Stay of Constantine

It is the largest room and is dedicated to the Emperor Constantine, on whose history an impressive pictorial program is made. Thus, in 1519 Raphael begins to paint the south wall. In her, we can see an imposing Battle of Constantine against Maxentius.

Nevertheless, the sudden death of Raphael in 1520 caused the room to be finished by disciples of the master, although following the pictorial program devised by him. In it we can see The vision from the cross, The Baptism of ConstantineY The donation of Romeamong other scenes.

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