Vatican reports on condition of Sistine Chapel after 500 years

Inside the Sistine Chapel, which is now 500 years old.

Five hundred years after its completion, the Vatican has indicated for the first time that it might eventually need to consider limiting the number of visitors who are allowed to view the splendours of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s famous frescoes have been described as one of the world’s supreme sights. In scene after scene, some of the Old Testament’s most powerful stories unfold. And at the centre of this vast work is one of the best known images in Western art; the depiction of God reaching out to touch Adam into life. But for some, the room has become a victim of its own fame and magnificence. They say it just attracts far too many tourists. Twenty-thousand visitors pour through the Chapel’s doors every day; more than five million a year. And the Italian literary critic, Pietro Citati, recently launched a searing attack on the Vatican authorities for allowing in such huge numbers.