The Medici Chapels
The Medici Chapels were built as the personal sepulcher of the Medici family in the Basilica of San Lorenzo. Located in front of their residential palace in the Via Larga (presently Via Cavour), San Lorenzo was considered by the Medici as their private church.
In 1520, Cardinal Giulio de' Medici (the future pope Clemente VII), together with pope Leo X commissioned Michelangelo Buonarroti with the building of the Sagrestia Nuova as the mausoleum for the Medici family. The chapel was to form a pendant to Filippo Brunelleschi's Sagrestia Vecchia. Construction began in March 1520 and was finally completed by Giorgio Vasari in 1546, after Michelangelo had left Florence for Rome in 1534.
The chapel was to hold the tombs of the two "Magnifici" and the two "Capitani": Lorenzo il Magnifico, his brother Giuliano de' Medici, and Lorenzo Duke of Urbino and Giuliano Duke of Nemours (the third son of the Magnifico).
Only the tombs of the Capitani were completed. To the left of the altar is the sepulcher of Lorenzo Duke of Urbino. Michelangelo represented Lorenzo in the act of reflecting. Vasari coined the term of Il Pensieroso (the Thoughtful) for this figure. It later became a symbol of contemplative life. Beneath it, set over the volutes of the sepulcher, are two figures symbolizing Il Crepuscolo (Dusk) and l'Aurora (Dawn).
The sepulcher of Giuliano is placed on the opposite side of the room. Giuliano is represented as the symbol of active life, with the swagger cane in his hand. Below Giuliano's representation are the figures of Il Giorno (Day), in a rebellious gesture, and La Notte (Night).
Michelangelo kept the architecture of the chapel in the Brunelleschi style two-tone, juxtaposing grey stone with white plaster. The art historian Tolnay saw here a subdivision into the three spheres: the lower sphere of Hades, the earthly one, and finally the celestial sphere with the cupola, inspired by the Pantheons. On the other hand, the sepulchers allude to the concept of the soul's deliverance: the figures of Giuliano and Lorenzo are turned towards the contemplation of the divine life incarnated by the Virgin.
Created by Michelangelo in 1521 and placed above the sarcophagus of the two Magnifici, the statue of the Madonna represents the spiritual mainstay of the Chapel. The statues of the two patron saints of the Medici family flank the Madonna: on the right Cosma, created by Montorsoli (1537), and on the left Damiano, by Raffaele da Montelupo (1531).
Audio guides rental service
Make the most of your visit to the Medici Chapels – book your Medici Chapels audio guide, after choosing the date, time and number of tickets for your visit to the Medici Chapels! Make sure you don't miss important aspects of the Medici's family church and sepulcher, and supplement what you know with the audio guide's insightful commentary.
- Audio guides are available in Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish.
- The audio guided visit has a complete duration of 45 minutes and includes a selection of the most important works of art in the Medici Chapels. To learn more about the works of art on view, choose the desired room and listen to the explanation of selected works in that room.
- You will receive a confirmation voucher (valid only for the audio guide) together with the confirmation voucher for your visit to the Medici Chapels. In order to pick up the audio guide, please deposit this voucher at the Audio Guides Desk – at the bookshop just after the ticket counter – along with a valid identity document (passports, identity cards or driver's license – only originals are accepted).
- In case of loss or failure to return the audio guide, visitors will be requested to pay the cost (€ 250.00 per each audio guide).
- From January 2 to April 11 and from November 2 to December 31: 8:15 am to 1:50 pm.
- From April 12 to November 1: 8:15 am to 5:00 pm.
- Closed the first, third and fifth Monday of the month, and the second and fourth Sunday of the month.
Entry to the Medici Chapelsis available every 15 minutes!
Reservations must be made with a minimum of 1 day notice.
Reservations are limited to 30 persons maximum.
Before You Book
PLEASE NOTE: Immediately after submitting an order, you will receive two emails. The first email contains your order summary (this one you receive immediately after placing your order), the second email confirms your successful payment (one business day after placing the order). In order to receive these two emails, please make sure that you enter your email address correctly and check that antispam or antivirus filters do not block emails from our [email protected] address. Users of AOL, Comcast and Sbcglobal.net need to pay special attention to this, please. Vouchers will also be available, one business day after the request, at your dashboard.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The time you select on the order form is your preferred time. The closest available time, which can be anytime during opening hours on the selected date, will be automatically confirmed if your preferred time is no longer available.
Once a confirmation code has been assigned to your reservation, we can refund the cost of unused tickets, also for no-shows, minus a service fee (reservation fee and online booking fee).
European Union citizens aged 18 to 25
Children under 18 years old from any country
Children under 12 (must be accompanied by an adult)
Tourist guides and interpreters (accompanying a group), with official documentation
Students/scholars of all nationalities may apply for special research permits for a limited period.
Free admission the first Sunday of every month
Italian and European school groups accompanied by their teachers, with official authorization from the school and with an advance booking made directly with the museum.
Service fees (pre-sale and online booking fees), as well as fees for temporary exhibitions happening during your visit are due for ANY KIND OF TICKET as well as for free admission days.
When picking up a reduced or free ticket, you will be asked for a document proving your right to the price reduction. Entrance will be denied without it.