Palazzo Medici-Riccardi

Palazzo Medici-Riccardi (27)

This palace was designed by Michelozzo in 1444 for Cosimo the Elder, who requested an imposing but nuanced building and had previously rejected an earlier design by Brunelleschi for considering it too pompous. The Grand Duke did not wish to flaunt his wealth before his enemies nor alienate the people.

So if you feel think the façade of this palace is not up to the standards of many others and too is austere, remember this is deliberate. Visitors will notice that the ground floor has a rustic exterior reminiscent of military architecture and that the general appearance becomes more refined the further up you go, finally reaching the classical cornice that crowns the building. The windows on both sides of the entrance were added by Michelangelo in 1517.

Inside, you will find a beautiful courtyard that evokes a monastic cloister, in homage to the great piety professed by Cosimo the Elder. Also note that the walls contain fragments of ancient Roman walls. As an anecdote, this was the original location of Donatello’s David, currently housed in the Bargello. Behind the patio there is a small but beautiful garden adorned with statues.

You should also be aware that only two of the rooms of the palace are open to the public, since much of the mansion is currently occupied by offices of the City Hall. 

The most important of these is what is known as the Cappella dei Magi, which houses the three murals that make up the "Journey of the Magi”, made by Benozzo Gozzoli Piero de Medici. In these superb scenes you will notice that the entourage are passing through an idealized image of Tuscany, though more interesting is the inclusion of portraits of contemporary figures such as Lorenzo the Magnificent or Gozzoli himself.

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