Below are photos I shot while visiting the Sistine Chapel, which immediately tells you how much the above rule is enforced. The prime reason for this is (to quote a Paul McCartney song title) too many people.
Millions of tourist are herded through the chapel in large groups after touring the Vatican Museums, jostling for position and straining to hear their respective tour guides, so it is no surprise the 'no pictures' rule is ignored. This also helps to explain why my shots are so, ... well, touristy.
Capturing a few shots of Michelangelo's masterpiece while on a tour like that only serves as a memento of a fantastic holiday - a reminder that " Wow, I was actually there!"
If you want to see some quality images and read more about the ceiling of all ceilings, there are loads of great books out there. Below are three of my recent favorites:
"Michelangelo and the popes ceiling", by Ross King.
This book is a must, and a nice starting point to put everything into the context of the times. Among other things, it explains the process of fresco and tells just how a massive work like this was executed.
"Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel", by Andrew Graham-Dixon
Andrew graham Dixon is a very engaging art critic, historian, presenter and film maker. His book not only breaks down all the scenes painted on the Sistine ceiling, but gives perspective of the entirety of the work, refutes other critics theories of it and tells us what it all may, or may not mean.
"Michelangelo: The Complete Sculpture, Painting, Architecture" by William Wallace
If you want beautiful reproductions, and really sweet close-ups in a large coffee table volume along with critical commentary, then get this baby.
These are but a drop in the bucket of books that are out there about Michelangelo and the Sistine ceiling, but hey, you gotta start somewhere!