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Vatican acts to protect Michelangelo frescoes as Sistine Chapel visitors swell

Published on Jun 12, 2014 1:02 PM
The Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel of the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in the Vatican City. -- PHOTO: CTC TRAVEL

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Dust, sweat and carbon dioxide brought into the Sistine Chapel by a swelling number of tourists risk damaging priceless Michelangelo frescoes, the Vatican said on Wednesday, hoping a new air conditioning and lighting system will protect them.

Some six million people a year visit the chapel, home to Michelangelo's famous ceiling frescoes - one of the wonders of Western civilisation that are over 500 years old.

The number of visitors to the chapel - where popes are elected in secret conclaves - can reach 20,000 a day in summer.

Their numbers have grown by 300 per cent from around 1.5 million a year in 1980, said Antonio Paolucci, head of the Vatican museums.

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