Michelangelo’s masterpieces in the heart of Florence
Word to the wise: Be ready to enter when doors open at 8.15am, or come late in the day, to explore the chapels with as few camera-wielding tourists as possible.
A testament both to the genius of Michelangelo and the extravagance of the 1500s, the Medici Chapels (part of the San Lorenzo complex) are stunning examples of Renaissance architecture. The first chapel, the Sagrestia Nuova, was designed by Michelangelo in the early 1520s to entomb four members of the influential Medici family - although only two tombs were finished. Despite the fact the Florentine artist left for Rome before its completion, the church design is clearly his work, and it still contains several of his original sculptures and frescoes, including ‘Madonna and Child’.
The second chapel, Cappella dei Principi, designed by Matteo Nigetti, is famed both for its enormous dome, which dominates the complex, and its beautiful interior of gaily-coloured marbles, semi-precious stones and decorative coats of arms. In particular, look out for the original Medici portrait sculptures.