Location Country: Vatican City

Codex Borgia
Thirty-three feet long, the Codex Borgia records historical, ritual, mythological, and botanical information.

Codex Borgia

This cloth—first woven by a wise spider—sends social messages through a system of specific patterns.

Kente cloth

Raphael, School of Athens (detail)
Whose side are you on? Two great philosophers of antiquity, Plato and Aristotle, face off in this meeting of minds.

Raphael, School of Athens

Veristic male portrait (similar to Head of a Roman Patrician), early 1st Century B.C.E., marble, life size (Vatican Museums, Rome)
With age comes experience, and sculptors in the Roman Republic highlighted seniority—warts and all.

Veristic male portrait

Saint Peter's Basilica- detail
The greatest minds of the High Renaissance worked on this vast church. Construction took more than a century.

Saint Peter’s Basilica

Michelangelo, Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, 1508-12, fresco (Vatican, Rome) - detail
God created the world in seven days, but it took Michelangelo four years to depict it on this remarkable ceiling.

Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Mars of Todi, late 5th or early 4th century B.C.E., hollow-cast bronze, 141 cm high (Gregorian Etruscan Museum, Vatican Museums)
Lighting struck this statue dedicated to the Etruscan god of war, marking it as a particularly sacred object.

Mars of Todi

Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, marble, 359 C.E. (Treasury of Saint Peter's Basilica) - detail
Made for a member of the Roman elite, this early tomb features Old and New Testament scenes in a classical style.

Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus