Florence Italy

Medici Chapel

The Medici Chapel, (Capelle Medicee), is one of the most fascinating places to visit while in Florence. The presence of the Medicis can be felt throughout the city but nowhere is it more evident than this chapel. While it may look understated from the outside, the inside is sure to impress.

The Chapel is part of the large San Lorenzo church complex in the New Sacristy. It was commissioned by Pope Clement VII and is the Medici family grand duke's mausoleum. The tombs of Giulano and Lorenzo de Medici are located in the chapel. It was designed and built largely by Michelangelo and his students between 1520 and 1534.

The interior of is a large octagonal room covered in dark marble and semi-precious stones. The walls bear the armor of sixteen Tuscan cities. There are six monumental sarcophagi of Grand dukes that lean against the walls. The exterior of the Chapel is part of the Florentine landscape with its red brick dome. It is located at the back of San Lorenzo. It is the most celebrated and grandest part of the church complex.

Three statues, carved by Michelangelo, The Tomb of the Duke of Urbino, The Tomb of the Duke of Nemours, and Madonna and Child, were all completed between 1520 and 1534. Some of Michelangelo's best works, the marble statues of Night, Day, Dawn and Dusk are in the Medici Chapel. Original sketches by Michelangelo are on the oriel's wall between the two tombs.

Medici Chapel-Dusk and Dawn

The Chapel is actually an incompleted work of art by Michelangelo. The glorification of the Medici family was meant to give legitimacy to their dynasty of Florence, and the chapel was left unfinished by the siege on Florence in 1534, when Michelangelo himself fled Florence. When he left in 1534, many of the figures were strewn around the floor and not assembled until 1545 into their present positions.

The architecture of the Medici Chapel is considered to be mostly complete. The famous Florentine "pietra serena", a bluish gray Florentine stone and the dark marble complete the architectural elements of the time period. The white elements, segmental arches and framing pilasters were elements that Michelangelo composed on his own, and were not typical of the construction of the time. In fact, some people thought of them as "bizarre".

Michelangelo designed and placed the altar for the proper view of the priest saying mass on the other side. The Medici Chapel is a culmination of the architecture, sculptures, missing paintings and liturgy of the framework as Michelangelo intended. The Medici Chapel was truly one of Michelangelo's reenactments of Resurrection, like his Sistine Chapel creation.

Florentine religious art, paintings and sculptures were not only a link between human and the divine, but an active part of the Florentine religious experience. Michelangelo modified the order of the traditional Catholic religious experience through his interpretations evident in the Medici Chapel. The chapel reflects Michelangelo's belief that a virtuous life would free the soul after death.

You can't help but feel like you are there with Michelangelo, his presence surrounds you in the Medici Chapel, and it's an experience you'll never forget.

Medici Chapel-Crypt

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Medici Chapel- Sign

Medici Chapel Information:

Address- Piazza Madonna (at the end of Borgo San Lorenzo, around back of San Lorenzo).

***The chapel is very easy to miss as it is surrounded by restaurants and the San Lorenzo street market***.

Visiting Hours- Tues-Sat 8:30am-5pm.

***Just a side note about attire for women in all Basilicas and Cathedrals. You will not be allowed to enter if you have bare shoulders or wearing shorts! Bring a shawl or long sleeve shirt with you.***

Medici Chapel-Michelangelo's Tomb

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