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Disabled Access at the Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel Disabled Access at the Vatican – Visiting Vatican City in a wheelchair consists of two parts: 1) visiting the Vatican Museums, Raphael Rooms, and Sistine Chapel and 2) visiting the St. Peter’s Basilica. The two parts are not connected by step-free access so wheelchair visitors will need to take a 0.6 mile (1.0 km) external route along a sidewalk to get between the two. The route is downhill going from the Vatican Museums to St. Peter’s Basilica.  Consequently handicapped accessible Sistine Chapel visits should occur before visiting St. Peter’s Basilica.  Both areas are generally less crowded in the afternoons than in the mornings.

The Vatican Museums have a ramp at the entrance and elevators to get between the floors.  The normal visitor’s route involves a few flights of stairs, and disabled visitors are allowed to go backwards along parts of the tour route and through roped off areas to avoid the steps.

The official policy is that Sistine Chapel handicapped visitors are free only if they present documentation of their disability.  (In many European countries people are issued documents from the federal government describing the percent of their disability.)  In actuality visitors with visible disabilities (such as using a wheelchair) and their companion are usually given free admission.  Rental wheelchairs are available in the lobby.

Reaching the Sistine Chapel requires walking down this flight of stairs or using the Sistine Chapel wheelchair lift. A staff member is present to operate it for you.

We gave the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel a 4 Star Sage Accessibility Rating because there is step-free access throughout via ramps, elevators, and wheelchair lifts.  It did not get a 5 star rating because the route is quite long and wheelchair users will need to push up a few ramps during their visit.

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