Private Palazzo Barberini Museum Tour with Art Historian Guide

See Judith Beheading Holofrenes, La Fornarina, and more inside this opulent 17th-century palace

Travel Flexibly 5 / 5 See All 1 Reviews · 2.00h · Rome, Italy

Looking for a deeper dive into art history while in Rome? Many tourists miss out on the incredible collection of paintings held within spectacular Palazzo Barberini, but our expert private guides are ready to reveal the secrets of this historic palace and the true masterpieces that adorn its walls. Witness famous works by Caravaggio and Raphael, see Holbein’s iconic Henry VIII portrait, admire the elaborate staircases of rivals Bernini and Borromini, and so much more! It's an art lover's dream!

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  • Private Palazzo Barberini tour
  • Explore the grand palace
  • Rival staircases by Bernini and Borromini
  • Saint Francis in Meditation
  • Iconic portrait of Henry VIII
  • What's with all these Bees?
  • The power and popes of the Barberini

After meeting your expert art historian guide just outside of Palazzo Barberini, you'll head inside to begin your tailored private tour. Over the next couple of hours, you'll explore the grand collection of paintings housed in the ornate medieval palace of the Barberini family, as well as Bernini and Borromini's competing staircases, and much more. Along the way, learn about the influential noble family and the signature bees found in the works they commissioned.

Palazzo Barberini Museum Private Tour Description

Your 2-hour private tour includes:

  • Admission to the Palazzo Barberini

  • Tailored private tour of the Museum's collection and architecture

  • See Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofrenes, Raphael's La Fornarina, and so much more

  • Your own personal guide with an expertise in art history

Meet Your Guide in Piazza Barberini

Your experience begins in Piazza Barberini, home to Bernini's great 17th-century Triton Fountain as well as the grand family palace you'll explore today. Your guide will talk you through some of the most impressive external architecture and introduce you to the history of the palace before you head inside.

Enter the Ornate Palace of the Barberini Family

One of Rome's most important aristocratic families, the Barberini reached the apex of power with the election of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini as Pope Urban VIII. Formerly a minor Tuscan noble family, the Barberini needed a downtown palace to portray and lead their newfound influence.

To construct Palazzo Barberini, the family went through three of Italy's great architects. From Carlo Maderno and his nephew Francesco Borromini to the final touches by the aforementioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini, your guide will point out the stamp each of these great artists placed on the palace finally completed in 1633.

Grand Staircases by Bernini and Borromini

As you enter the majestic palace, your eyes will head to the great staircases that rise towards the sky above. These two staircases were created by Bernini and Borromini—two iconic artists and also fierce rivals during the Renaissance era. Decide which style of elaborate staircase is your favorite as your guide tells of the reasons why they despised each other so much.

The Works of Caravaggio

Once you head up one of the stairwells, you'll reach the incredible collection of paintings that brings art lovers from across the world to the Palazzo Barberini. Though Caravaggio's works can be found across Italy and beyond, the Barberini arguably holds Caravaggio's greatest masterpiece among others.

Stand up close and observe the painstaking detail of Judith Beheading Holofrenes. With his patented use of the chiaroscuro, Caravaggio creates a vividness and power of realism which was unmatched until the advent of photography. Besides the bloody biblical scene, Caravaggio's Saint Francis in Meditation and Narcissus are found in the collection. Learn about Caravaggio's turbulent life and career that led to genius, murder, and controversy.

Raphael, Canaletto, and Henry VIII

As you explore the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, your guide will lead you to amazing works including the Renaissance master Raphael's La Fornarina. Full of theories on who the subject of the painting is, thoughts range from a witch to Raphael's muse and lover.

The great collection also holds great works from across eras and some from outside of Italy, including the iconic portrait of Britain's King Henry VIII by Holbein. You'll also enjoy a collection from the most famous Italian landscape painter of them all, Canaletto. Before postcards, the wealthiest travelers would pay Canaletto and others to paint scenes of Venice, Florence, Rome, and Vesuvius with them included...kind of like a 17th-century Instagram post!

After a couple of hours exploring the best of the museum, your guide will say goodbye and leave you to enjoy the rest of your day in Rome. Don't hesitate to ask for recommendations—our guides know this city better than anyone!

What you get with this tour
Admission to the Palazzo Barberini
Tailored private tour of the Museum's collection and architecture
See Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofrenes, Raphael's La Fornarina, and so much more
Your own personal guide with an expertise in art history
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1 total reviews

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5.0/5 (based on 1 reviews)
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Pia is an excellent guide
09 September 2023
J
Reviewed by
James Smiley

I greatly enjoyed all of her insight and perspective on the building architecture, history and art within.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to bring?

Just some comfortable shoes and a passion for art and history!

What to bring?

Just some comfortable shoes and a passion for art and history!

I have some doubts about my mobility. Is this tour right for me?

If you have any doubts about your mobility then a private tour is your best bet. Private Vatican tours are more easily customized to the needs of people with reduced mobility.

Does the tour go inside without waiting in any lines?

Yes! Your guide will help you skip the line and start exploring straight away.

Start From: $449.74

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$449.74 / per person
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