Built between 1475 and 1483, in the time of Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere, the Sistine Chapel has originally served as Palatine Chapel.
The chapel is rectangular in shape and measures 40.93 meters long by 13.41 meters wide, i.e. the exact dimensions of the Temple of Solomon, as given in the Old Testament. It is 20.70 meters high and is roofed by a flattened barrel vault, with little side vaults over the centered windows.
The architectural plans were made by Baccio Pontelli and the construction work was supervised by Giovannino de' Dolci. The first Mass in the Sistine Chapel was celebrated on August 9, 1483.
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo, and is popularly considered to be his greatest achievement. Michelangelo worked for more than four years - from 1508 to 1512 - to complete the ceiling. More than 300 figures were painted, with scenes depicting Creation, the fall of man, the prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah and more.
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was patronized by Pope Julius II. Michelangelo worked by constructing a scaffolding system that allowed him to paint the high ceiling.
Visitors are not permitted to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel.