Basilica of San Lorenzo
parish church in Florence, Italy



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Arty Fact

Basilica of San Lorenzo
parish church in Florence, Italy
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Piazza di San Lorenzo, 9

mhoutzager's picture


One of the oldest, biggest, and best churches in Florence.

Part of the same complex that has the the library Michelangelo designed for the Medici family.

All of the Medicis are buried here.

mbaa's picture


The Medici Chapel comprises two structures, the New Sacristy designed by Michelangelo, and the Chapel of the Princes which was a collaborative exercise.

The chapel was built as an extension to the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, which was obviously the Medici’s parish. The Grand Dukes lie, unclaimed by both heaven and hell, in the crypt right below the Chapel of Princes. The new sacristy was initially supposed to hold four dead Medicis, but Michelangelo was able to build only two tombs for Lorenzo and Guilliano Medici, Dukes of Urbino and Nemour, respectively.

We knew they were rich, but when you see the Medici Chapel you realize that even the Medicis couldn’t buy their way into heaven. They had popes, clergymen, dukes, they were both kings and gods. But they still couldn’t find a way in. Look at all the gold they weren’t able to carry. It’s like the guards at the gates of hell found the gold and told them that they could only take enough for one bribe. So they left the rest on Earth and now they are being tortured, and will be tortured, for the rest of time time. How cool is that?

The Medici Chapel was a rush job. The construction of the New Sacristy was halted when Michelangelo publically opposed the Medici rule. He had to go into hiding for a few months, though he didn't go far, because when Pope Clement VII announced that all would be forgiven, Michelangelo crawled right out.  He was in fact very, very close by. In 1976, a secret room was discovered under the New Sacristy. It was full of drawings, Michelangelo’s drawings. He hid right under their noses and they never got to know. The secret room is not always open to the public, but we recommend you ask the museum, you might just get lucky. The New Sacristy was ultimately finished by Michelangelo’s friend, Giorgio Vasari, and Bartolomeo Ammannati in 1555.

The Chapel of the Princes had a lot of cooks stirring the pot. The Grand Duke’s son Giovanni de Medici made the initial sketches for the Chapel, Bernardo Buontalenti revised the sketches, and Nigetti Matteo spent 40 years of his life building the thing. The Medicis wanted to fill the walls with lapiz lazuli. Unfortunately, their fall from power stopped that from happening. The Chapel of the Princes should’ve been ready in 1640. Instead, the Lorraine family (the next gangster family of Italy) had to call in Pietro Benevuneti to complete the Frescoes. That was in 1828. The inlay of fancy gemstones wasn't installed until 1962. The Medici Chapel was a very slow long con. It took forever to be built and probably didn't get anyone into heaven.



  1. "Medici Chapels and Church of San Lorenzo." Florence. Accessed August 01, 2019.
  2. Elam, Caroline. "The Site and Early Building History of Michelangelo's New Sacristy." Mitteilungen Des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 23, no. 1/2 (1979): 155-86.
  3. Ugc. "Michelangelo's Hidden Drawings." Atlas Obscura. September 20, 2016. Accessed August 01, 2019.
  4. "Medici Chapels in Florence." The Florentine. January 11, 2019. Accessed August 01, 2019.
  5. "The Medici Chapels - Florence, San Lorenzo Church." Florence Inferno. June 20, 2019. Accessed August 01, 2019.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about San Lorenzo, Florence

The Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St Lawrence) is one of the largest churches of Florence, Italy, situated at the centre of the city’s main market district, and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III. It is one of several churches that claim to be the oldest in Florence; when it was consecrated in 393 it stood outside the city walls. For three hundred years it was the city's cathedral before the official seat of the bishop was transferred to Santa Reparata. San Lorenzo was also the parish church of the Medici family. In 1419, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici offered to finance a new church to replace the 11th-century Romanesque rebuilding. Filippo Brunelleschi, the leading Renaissance architect of the first half of the 15th century, was commissioned to design it, but the building, with alterations, was not completed until after his death. The church is part of a larger monastic complex that contains other important architectural and artistic works: the Old Sacristy by Brunelleschi, with interior decoration and sculpture by Donatello; the Laurentian Library by Michelangelo; the New Sacristy based on Michelangelo's designs; and the Medici Chapels by Matteo Nigetti.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about San Lorenzo, Florence.