Medici Chapels : Michelin's recommendations
The traditional dictum memini pulvis es is quite out of place here: the crypt of the Princes' Chapel, commissioned by Cosimo I in 1585, started in 1605, the ornamental tiling of which was only completed in 1929, has no conceivable connection with dust, unless it is the dust of the marble and precious stones which line this funeral chamber from top to bottom. At the foot of the walls are the coats of arms of towns within the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (as if the Almighty took into account the power of life on earth), six richly-decorated sarcophagi of the Grand Dukes, some of which are surmounted by gilded bronze statues and an altar worthy of an oriental sultan. This concept of equality at the time of death or at least its earthly representation, is slightly surprising coming from a family which gave the world so many papal dignitaries! A side corridor leads back to the New Sacristy where Michelangelo sculpted the funeral chapels of Giuliano (represented as an energetic Emperor) and Lorenzo (a figure in meditation), the son and grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent. An allegorical vision of power, symbolised by force and reflection completes the four statues, grouped in twos, which decorate the sarcophagi: Night and Day illustrate the stages of life while Dawn and Dusk (deliberately non finito) reflect the relationship of action and thought triumphing over time. In 1975, sketches by Michelangelo were discovered under the chapel, made while he was in hiding because of his part in a riot which had driven the Medici from the town in 1527.
Opening hours :
- Apr-Oct: 8.15am-4.20pm; rest of year: 8.15am-1.20pm- closed 1st, 3rd and 5th Mon of every month, 2nd and 4th Sun of every month, 1 Jan, 1 May, 25 Dec
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