The Sistine Chapel is one of three Papal Chapels which comprise the Apostolic Vatican Palace and seat of the "conclave" (from the latin "cum clave", literally "locked") - the Assembly of Cardinals called to elect a new Pope. Built over the basement of a sanctuary founded by Pope Nicholas III around 1278, the majestic chapel was erected by Pope Sixtus IV and takes it's name after him. It's vast nave has the same measurements of Solomon’s temple as described in the Old Testament (40.93 metres long, 13.41 metres wide, and 20.71 metres high). The "lowered vault" of the ceiling is divided into two sections by a marble transenna.
The construction of the Chapel was part of wider renovation work which took place during the temporary transfer of the Pope’s seat to Avignon, from 1309 to 1423. Even now, it's attribution is not 100% uncertain, but many accept Giovanni dei Dolci as the architect. Works commenced around 1473 and were completed by 1481. Side wall paintings began shortly thereafter, assigned to the most admired and influential painters of the Renaissance era, namely Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli, Bartolomeo della Gatta, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio, and possibly Luca Signorelli. The main theme of the frescoes was the life of Moses and that of Christ with Papal portraits. Tapestries by Raphael, woven in Brussels between 1515-1519, were hung around the side walls on important occasions. They are frequently loaned to museums elsewhere in the world.