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The Medici Chapel | The Tomb of Medici Family

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The Medici Chapel and family are famous and symbolic of the Italian Renaissance. Their rise – from humble wool merchants to a tremendous political dynasty – began with Giovanni di Bicci de Medici.

The Medici Chapel is the birthplace of some immortal religious figures, such as the Madonna and Child. With statues of Saints Cosma and Damian, patrons of medicine, to the left and right. The figures are human and very well represented anatomically. Somewhat in the style of Greek perfection. 

From the outside, the Basilica of San Lorenzo does not necessarily impress. It is simple and plain, like many other historic buildings. But inside are the masterpieces that Michelangelo gave years of his life to and The Medici Chapel of one of the most powerful families ever lived. Symbolic, impressive, and beautifully designed, the Medici Tombs have made immortal both those who rest in them and the artists who gave themselves to their creation.

When began the construction of Medici’s Tomb?

The first sector of the construction is older than Michelangelo’s work. Created by the famous Brunelleschi, it was sober from the start, marked by the symbolism of the contrast between black and white/good and evil. Although tiny and used for its original purpose, the sacristy kept the future art of Michelangelo, who would remain faithful to this concept.

In 1520, the artist Michelangelo began to work on the Medici Tombs, his first architectural project. 

Cardinal Giulio de Medici (later Pope Clement VII) wanted a symbolic sculptural altarpiece to adorn the Medici Chapel and the tombs of Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano.

What was the purpose of the Medici’s Tomb?

Two other family members, less remembered by history, were to join them. These were Lorenzo di Piero, Duke of Urbino, and Giuliano de Lorenzo, Duke of Nemours. 

The purpose of the Medici’s tomb was to send a kind of message about the power of the family and the fact that it cannot be easily shaken. According to accounts of the time, Giovanni began by lending money in Rome as a shrewd and innovative businessman. He used the dowry he received from his marriage to find a private bank in central Florence.

In the early 15th century, Giovanni won the papacy’s favor, and the Medici family took control of the papal treasury. Thus, the de Medici became the official bankers of Pope Martin V and many popes who followed after him.

What was the Medici family doing?

Thanks to its links with the Church, the Medici bank became the most important and respected bank in Europe, managing the money of royalty and merchants. 

The de Medici family was at the forefront of banking innovation, which helped its rise among Europe’s wealthy. Their bank was one of the first to implement double-entry bookkeeping (thanks to the breadth of their banking network) and could offer credit across the continent at a time when borrowing money was considered a sin.

At its peak, the Medici bank had branches from London to Constantinople. These operations made the de Medici family one of the richest and most influential in the whole world.

Who was Piero de Medici?

Under the auspices of The Medici Chapel, the Palazzo Medici and the Duomo di Firenze were completed, and the first public library in Florence was built, to which anyone had access. Cosimo supported, among others, the artist Donatello and commissioned the first Latin translation of Plato’s complete works.

Cosimo’s heir, Piero de Medici, was a sickly man who disliked the arts and was often bedridden with chronic gout. He held on to power in Florence for five years, then delegated it to his son Lorenzo, a prominent Medici figure.

During his reign, Florence became the epicenter of the arts. 

Who was the first of the four Medici popes?

Unfortunately, Lorenzo was not as magnificent in his finances. After a series of bad investments and shady deals, Medici Bank went bankrupt. B

The first of the four Medici popes was Lorenzo’s son Giovanni, who became Pope Leo X. At the time, the papacy was corrupt and power-hungry. The word “favor” has its roots in this period of the papacy.

Unfortunately for Clement, his reign coincided with the sack of Rome and the separation of England from the Catholic Church during the reign of Henry VIII in England.

Do the Medici Tombs still exist today?

Problems began to arise in the 17th century when the inevitable decline of the Medici dynasty began. 

Today the Medici Tombs are preserved, restored, and received the respect they deserve for their work. And value is hidden within them. Tourists can get here very quickly. 

After the minor formalities, tourists have their little journey back in time. Arriving in the world of the Medici family and the artists who dedicated a few years to a monument dedicated to eternal life, eternity under the sign of art.

What is Medici’s family town?

Even the famous Dan Brown begins the great adventure of his latest thriller “Inferno” in the heart of Florence, revealing ancient mysteries hidden in its glittering palaces.

Florence is the city of the great Medici family. Their coat of arms can be found all over Tuscany. And many castles and palaces bear the name of this illustrious family. Florence is also the city of the great poet, writer, and philosopher Dante Alighieri, the great political thinker Niccolo Machiavelli, the monk, and philosopher Savonarola, the jeweler and sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, and Galileo Galilei.

Michelangelo, Boccacio, Donatello, Sandro Boticelli, and the composer Luigi Cherubini were also Florentine or created in Florence.

What does the Medici Family do?

Today the cathedral is the fourth largest in Europe, surpassed in size only by St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and Milan. The basilica’s name translates as Saint Mary of the Flower and refers to the lily flower, the symbol of Florence, from which the city’s old name – Fiorenza – came.

Great patrons of the arts, the Medici family held power in Florence for 300 years and gave popes, queens, cardinals, and dukes – formidable competitors in the struggle for power, political influence, wealth, and prestige in Italy and throughout Europe.

In Piazza San Lorenzo is the Basilica of San Lorenzo, built around 1000. 

The Medici Chapel


What are the Medici tombs decorated with?

Medici then expanded it to other city-states, including Geneva and Venice. And Rome, where the papal states would begin to work with his business. During his lifetime, he would eventually set up branches in foreign cities such as London, Bruges, and Lübeck.

The Tombs of the Medici family are decorated with the famous statues of Day, Night, and Dawn. And Sunset is Michelangelo’s most important work.

The ideal itinerary to get to know Florence can start in Piazza del Duomo I, surrounded by medieval-looking small streets and beautiful Renaissance palaces. The breathtaking Basilica Santa Maria del Fiore is in the middle of the square. Or Duomo, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296 to be the largest Roman Catholic church in the world and also built over several generations 170 years.

Primary Takeaways

  • To better understand the context in which the de Medici family became a real power in the very development of Europe. Italy was not unified when the de Medici managed to emerge a little. A vast difference from the nation-states that surrounded it, such as France.
  • Members of the de Medici family created Europe’s largest bank in the 15th century, which lasted from 1397 to 1494. Cosimo the Elder (1389-1464) established the Medici bank in Florence.
  • The Medici family is shared between the Sistine Chapel, the Duomo in Florence, and St. Peter’s Basilica. The Medici family had the inspiration to combine policies of peace-keeping and patronage. And sometimes, personal relationships created a favorable atmosphere for important artists like Michelangelo to create masterpieces.


The Medici Chapel also very quickly became a kind of center of Florence. They brought in new banking systems and even laid the foundations for making Florence a point of cultural irradiation. And through the political strategies adopted and the patronage of influential artists such as Michelangelo, they created the so-called Renaissance. Such a large family, there is much to tell.

When we refer to the Medici family, we are talking about hundreds of years. Centuries in which their influence was significant at critical points in the organization of Italian society.