Sistine Chapel Conclave: Closed for the 2013 Papal Conclave

July 10, 2023

Will the upcoming papal conclave affect your visit to the Sistine Chapel? In a word: Yes. Which, since the conclave is held in the Sistine Chapel, shouldn’t be surprising, even if it is disappointing! So what is the Sistine Chapel Conclave?

The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is currently closed, and won’t reopen until after the papal conclave.

History of the Sistine Chapel Conclave

In a nutshell, the Sistine Chapel Conclave – also known as the Papal Conclave – is an event when cardinals convene in the Sistine Chapel to select the new Pope. The Sistine Chapel has served as the permanent venue for every conclave since 1878 – and its first usage for this purpose dates back to 1492!

When is the conclave?

Unfortunately, we still don’t know. It could be as early as Monday, March 11, 2013. It could be as late as, well, later than that (but probably by March 15 or 16). At this point, it’s all speculation. This year, the Sistine Chapel closed on March 5, 2013. It won’t reopen until the conclave has finished and a new pope has been picked.

Disappointed that you won’t get to see the Sistine Chapel? We get it. But comfort yourself with the fact that at least you’re missing Michelangelo’s frescoes for a  very historic reason. Not only are papal conclaves always a big deal, of course, but the last time a pope resigned, the year was 1415. So this is an especially historic event. Check out our earlier post for more on exactly what a papal conclave really is and how it works!

What can I do if my visit is affected by the conclave?

Did you book a Vatican tour with us during this period? While we have lots of special access privileges to the Vatican, visiting the Sistine Chapel while the cardinals are in there, voting on the new pope, is unfortunately, not one of them! So email us at [email protected] to find out exactly how your tour will be affected, and what your options are (including rebooking the tour for another date, or canceling it altogether for a full refund. Thanks for your understanding!

Other options for visiting the Vatican Museums

If you are planning to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, check out our Pristine Sistine tour, which lets you into the chapel before the general public, or our VIP Vatican Key Master’s Tour: Unlock the Sistine Chapel where you’ll enter the Vatican Museums with the Key Master before dawn and have the place to yourself for two full hours.

by Walks of Italy

View more by Walks ›

Follow us

Stay up to date with travel tips, local insights and all things Italy on our social channels!

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get curated Italy travel tips delivered to your inbox!

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now