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The Medici Library

Designed by Michelangelo for the Medici manuscripts

Commissioned by Pope Clement VII de ‘Medici to house the precious collection of manuscripts of the family, the Laurentian Library was designed by Michelangelo who personally directed the works between 1523 and 1534, the year of his transfer to Rome. The library was completed in 1571 by Giorgio Vasari and Bartolomeo Ammannati, commissioned by Cosimo I de ‘Medici to continue the work according to Michelangelo’s designs and was opened to the public that same year.
The access area, called the vestibule, is dominated by the large stone staircase built by Ammannati in 1559 following the model of Michelangelo who, however, had designed it in walnut.


During its long history, the Laurentian Medici Complex was separated in its management into the complex of the Basilica, the Medici Library and the Medici Chapels.

Per questa ragione sone necessari 3 biglietti distinti e osservare diversi orari di visita per l’intero complesso.

More about the complex

The architecture of the Library

At the top of the staircase, a large portal introduces the vast reading room, one of the few sixteenth-century rooms in the world to have remained almost intact: here everything is original, with a linden wood ceiling carved by Giovan Battista del Tasso, based on Michelangelo’s drawings. , to the splendid stained glass windows with the Medici coats of arms designed by Giorgio Vasari, to finish with the beautiful red and white terracotta floor designed by Niccolò Tribolo, a pupil of Buonarroti. The same wooden benches, called plutei, which run in two parallel rows on the sides of the room, were made following the drawings of Michelangelo. They had the dual function of lectern and custody: the codes were stored horizontally in the lower shelves and were freely consultable secured to the counter by means of chains.

The manuscripts contained

The cultured humanistic climate of the court of Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent is reflected in the original nucleus of the codices, still preserved today in the library. The precious manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers testify to the interest in classical authors that arose at the Medici court thanks to the influence of Neoplatonic philosophy.

In the first decades of the nineteenth century the Tribuna dell’Elci was added to the original rooms. The rotunda was designed by Pasquale Poccianti to house the collection of manuscripts and ancient books donated to the library by the Florentine scholar and bibliophile Angelo Maria d’Elci.

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“If you did not have a body God would have granted you invisible and naked gifts but since your soul is united to the body it is through the sensible things that he bestows spiritual things on you.”
S. Giovanni Crisostomo (Omelie su Matteo 82,4)

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