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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Vatican unveils virtual tour
Sistine Chapel ceiling
The tour includes Michelangelo's most famous work
Art lovers can now look at Michelangelo's famous ceiling in the Sistine Chapel via their computers.

The ceiling, painted by the Renaissance artist between 1508 and 1512, is included in a new virtual tour of the Vatican's museums on the Holy See's website.

The city state, located in the heart of the Italian capital Rome, has expanded its website in an effort to boost visitor numbers.

It launched the new service on Tuesday, with details of the city state's galleries and museums.

As well as its virtual tour, the Vatican is also considering online ticket sales so people do not have to physically queue for tickets.

There are also plans for an online gift shop, it was reported in The Guardian newspaper in the UK.

Restored

The virtual tour includes a sweeping view of the chapel at eye level, as well as the option to view the artist's famous friezes. These include The Creation of Adam, the famous Christian depiction of God creating the first man.

The ceilings were recently restored to their original state in a clean-up process which took 20 years.

Michelangelo, the most famous of the Renaissance painters, was commissioned to paint the chapel ceiling by then Pope Julius II.

St Peter's, Vatican
The Vatican is the world's smallest state

The artist painted the grand design on an especially-built scaffold. It is said that his assistants had to prize paintbrushes from his fingers at the end of the day.

The Vatican's collection in their Etruscan and Egyptian museums are also on the tour, as are the Raphael's Rooms and the Pinacoteca, the Vatican's famous art gallery.

When BBC News Online took the virtual tour, some of the close-up views of the artworks were not uploaded.




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