The Medici Chapels & Basilica di San Lorenzo

Basilica in Florence

Cappelle Medici Basilica Di San Lorenzo Florence Italy
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Adam63

The Medici Chapels in Florence, located within the Basilica of San Lorenzo, serve as the magnificent mausoleum for the Medici family, who considered the basilica their official church. The complex is comprised of two main parts that are open for visits: the New Sacristy, designed by Michelangelo, and the 17th-century Chapel of the Princes, which houses the tombs of the grand dukes of Tuscany.

The project of creating an impressive family funerary monument in San Lorenzo began in 1520 when Michelangelo was commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, later known as Pope Clement VII. Michelangelo worked on funerary monuments dedicated to Giuliano de’ Medici, duke of Nemours, and his nephew Lorenzo de’ Medici, duke of Urbino. These monuments feature remarkable sculptures known as the Allegories of Time and portraits of the Dukes. Giuliano’s tomb is adorned with sculptures representing Day and Night, while Dawn and Dusk grace Lorenzo’s tomb. Additionally, in the center of the chapel is the striking sculpture of the Medici Madonna, depicting the Virgin Mary holding Jesus. Both Lorenzo il Magnifico and his brother Giuliano de’ Medici are buried under the altar, though Michelangelo did not have time to complete their tombs.

The Chapel of the Princes, built between 1604 and 1640 by the architect Matteo Nigetti, under the direction of Don Giovanni de’ Medici, was designed to emphasize the Medici dynasty’s prestige and status in Tuscany. It features a grand dome and lavishly decorated interior with precious marbles. The octagonal room, intended to house the remains of the grand dukes, is adorned with pietre dure (precious stone) and marble, along with grand sarcophagi containing bronze statues within their niches.

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Visiting The Medici Chapels & Basilica di San Lorenzo

Address: Cappelle Medicee, Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes
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