As Pope Sixtus IV needed a chapel for domestic services he ordered the architect Giovanni dei Dolci to build him one. That was in 1473; the building was finished in 1481.
The Sistine Chapel is still being used by the Pope, mostly for official ceremonies. After the death of a pope, Roman Catholic cardinals from all over the world gather in the chapel to elect a successor. Today, the building is part of the museums of the Vatican.
The chapel has a rectangular shape. It measures 41 × 13 meters (134 × 43 ft.) and was built using somewhat ordinary bricks. From the outside there is nothing spectacular about the building. It has a barrel-shaped roof, topping 20 meters. On the inside, the chapel is divided into 2 by a transenna: a fence made from marble. The part facing the altar is only accessible to priests.
Each of the two long walls has 6 large arched windows. The walls are covered by 3 virtual rings with decorations. At floor level: tapestry designed by Raphael, showing scenes from the gospels and the Acts. In the middle: frescoes with scenes from the lives of Moses and Jesus. The top row, next to and between the windows, shows images of popes.
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