Added on to Brunelleschi's basilica a century later, the Medici Chapels are essential to visit if you're a fan of Michelangelo and want to see an artistic example of the Medici family's power and influence.
The exterior of the gorgeous Medici Chapels — Photo courtesy of HarshLight
Originally started in the 16th century, two different complexes were built in order to house the bodies of the ruling Medici family. Pope Leo X and his cousin Cardinal Giulio de'Medici wished to create an unforgettable memorial to their lasting memories.
The project experienced multiple interruptions throughout the years during the years of the Medici family's exile from the city of Florence. Though Michelangelo was never able to finish the culmination of the tombs for the Sagrestia Nuova, he was able to complete the sculptures for the tombs of Giuliano di Lorenzo de'Medici and Lorenzo di Piero de'Medici before his death.
It was only after Cosimo I de'Medici assigned Georgio Vasari and Bartolomeo Ammannati to finish the project that the chapel was considered to be complete.
The Capella dei Principi is the second structure, located next to San Lorenzo. It was built later after a competition put together by Don Giovanni de'Medici, Cosimo I's son.
Marble is the main feature here, and the naturally stunning stone is made even more breath taking with the inlaid, semi-precious stones.
A crypt was built underneath. Several Medici are buried there, and guests are welcome to visit.
The most stunning part of the two structures is the tombs constructed by Michelangelo in the Sagrestia Nuova. Stepping away from his High Renaissance background, his sculptures are a depiction of the effects of time worn on the human body.
This is most prevalent in his works The Dawn and The Night, depicting a woman in both her youth and her older age – or “active” and “contemplative” life. Many mark this as one of the beginning signs of the Humanist movement.
The chapels are open on certain days. The best way to know when to visit is to go to the museum's website and book online so you know which days would be best for you and your visit.
There are also a limited amount of spots available each day, so getting online tickets can be essential to making sure that you're allowed entry. It also allows you to pick the exact time of entry, which can be helpful when you only have a few days in the city.
Ticket prices vary. If you're part of a school group or under 18, tickets are free. Also, if you are attending a school in the European Union and under the age of 25, you have free access.
Regular tickets are €15,50.