Basilica di San Lorenzo Overview
The Sagrestia Nuova (New Sacristy) is located in the south transept, opposite to the Old Sacristy. It can be considered as the funerary chamber of Lorenzo de Medici, called The Magnificent, and of some members of his family: Giuliano de Medici, brother of Lorenzo; the Duke of Nemours, son of Lorenzo, and the Duke of Urbino, grandson of Lorenzo. The Sagrestia Nuova was projected by Michelangelo Buonarotti, who designed as well the referred outstanding funerary monuments, which were commissioned by Pope Clemente VII (born Giulio de Medici). Its construction was conducted by Michelangelo from 1521 to 1534. Subsequently, he left Florence for a long time remaining uncompleted until the second half of the 16th century ca.
The architectural and the sculptural works of the Sacristy are both believed as masterpieces of the early Mannerism like, just for instance, the topmost of the sacristy crowned by an extraordinary coffered dome.
Each of the statues placed on the different sepulchres are symbolizing the different characteristics of the respective addressees such as the allegories of Dawn and Dusk and Night and Day, placed in that order above the sepulchres of the Dukes of Nemours and Urbino, as well as the statues which portrays Lorenzo and Giuliano de Medici, whose sarcophaguses remained unfortunately unfinished.
Over the two latter sarcophaguses are also placed the sculptural group of “The Madonna and Child” flanked by the statues St. Kosmas and St. Damian, which were created by Giovannangelo da Montorsoli and Baccio di Montelupo, both of them Michelangelo’s disciples.
Pope Clemente VII commissioned as well from Michelangelo to project and construct the Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana (Medicean-Laurentian Library), which due to it architectonic perfection and gorgeousness has never been altered.
The book collection - composed in the most part of valuable antique codices- was brought into being by Cosimo the Elder. Later his son Piero the Medici and, subsequently, his grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent and the next prominent members of the Medici family considerably augmented the collection along the centuries.
Michelangelo set out the work in 1524, but he could not complete it. The design of the Library is of an incredible beauty and every element of its decoration is closely tied to the architecture. The work was brought to an end by some of the most brilliant disciples of Michelangelo such as the celebrated Giorgio Vasari and Bartolommeo Ammanati.
The Medicean-Laurentian Library due to its extraordinary collection of antique codices and manuscripts is actually believed the first library of this sort in Italy.
A magnificent staircase in sandstone, which starts from an exquisite early Mannerist vestibule leads to the Library. Michelangelo designed too the desks and the splendid ceiling of the Medicean-Laurentian Library.
The doorway to the Library is located to the left of the religious Medicean complex. It entrance is adjoined to the one of the New Sacristy, close to the wonderful cloister garden of the Basilica rebuilt in 1460 - from the original project prepared by Brunelleschi - by the celebrated Tuscan architect Antonio di Tuccio Manetti .
In 1602, Ferdinando I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, commissioned from the brilliant architect Matteo Nigetti the project of the Cappella dei Principi (Chapel of the Princes) from a design by his brother, Don Giovanni de Medici.
The entrance is situated in Piazza della Madonna degli Aldobrandini, in the back façade of the huge architectonical complex.
The Cappella dei Principi is the most sumptuous Medici Chapel. The first structure is a big crypt. There are buried in colossal sepulchres the Grand Dukes of Tuscany from the Medici family with their corresponding wives and scions.
Another crypt located underneath the first one was built by the Habsburg- Lorena family, Grand Dukes of Tuscany from 1736 to 1800 and from 1814 to 1860, to place the remainders of the exponents of their dynasty in Tuscany. There are forty-nine coffins including the ones of the related wives and descendants.
In 1743, in the Chapel of the Princes was interred the last person: the Princess Anna Maria Ludovica de Medici, the final direct descendant of the Medici family.
The construction of the Cappella dei Principi started in 1602. It was initially conducted by the prestigious Florentine architect and sculptor Matteo Nigetti (1570 ca.-1648) with the collaboration of the celebrated architect, painter, sculptor and theatrical designer Bernardo Buontalenti (1536-1608), who projected the first crypt and the spectacular dome of the Chapel, with similar features to the one created by Brunelleschi in the Florence’s Duomo (Cathedral).
The work for the imposing Mausoleum kept on for more than a century. The main architects, artists, painters and sculptors actives in each corresponding age were involved in the work.
The infinite octagonal plant is completely covered with inlaid precious stones and exquisite marbles, originated in the “Opificio delle Pietre Dure” (laboratory of precious stones) founded by Ferdinando I de Medici in 1604, currently a wonderful museum and the main international restoration Academy.
The imposing tombs of six Grand Dukes of Tuscany from the Medici dynasty are situated in the walls.
The Tuscan artist Pietro Tacca (1577-1640), who is believed the most important Baroque Italian sculptor, created the gilded bronze statues which ornament the sepulchres of Ferdinando I and Cosimo II de Medici.
Below the tombs are enclosed the coat of arms of the Medici, as well as the emblems of sixteen towns in Tuscany. They were all inlaid in precious stones by the selfsame Matteo Nigetti.
In 1740, the eminent architects and sculptors Ferdinando and Giuseppe Ruggieri ended the upper structure of the Cappella dei Principi. There, they also designed the lovely bell-shaped windows and the pillars constructed by the corners.
By 1740, was terminated as well the construction of the fine campanile in the religious complex, which was been projected and conducted by Ferdinando Ruggeri.
The outstanding dome of the Chapel of the Princes was frescoed by the celebrated Tuscan painter Pietro Benvenuti (1769-1844), between 1823 and 1837, representing episodes from the Old and New Testament.
The Basilica di San Lorenzo is opened for visits from Monday to Saturday (10 am - 5 pm)
The admission ticket is: 2.50 euros.
The Medicean-Laurentian Library is opened from Monday to Saturday (9 am - 1 pm)
The Medici Chapels are opened daily (8:15 am – 4:50 pm). They are closed: the 1st, 3rd and 5th Mondays and the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month.
The admission ticket is: 6.00 euros
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