The Medici family originally came from the village of Cafaggiolo in the Mugello. After knowing the opportunities that trade offered, some of its members emigrated to Florence, in the 12th century perhaps, and over the centuries it became economically and politically important. Three popes and two queens of France were members of this family, which ruled the city of Florence and Tuscany for about three centuries (except for some brief interruptions).They worked in the commercial and banking fields, and some of its members were patrons. Like many important families (Gonzaga, Sforza, Este, Della Rovere) the Medici ordered the building of their own mausoleum, the Medici chapels.
They are located inside the basilica of San Lorenzo, and are accessible from Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini. Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, his wife Maria Salvati, Cosimo the Elder, Francis I, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici and other members of the family are buried in this place. There are four chapels; the New Sacristy, the Chapel of the Princes, the Crypt and the Lorenese Crypt.
The New Sacristy was designed and built by Michelangelo Buonarroti, on commission of cardinal Giulio de Medici and pope Leo X, but it was Bartolomeo Ammannati e Giorgio Vasari who completed the building. It has a coffered cupola with a lantern which has composite columns, and inside you can admire the two tombs of Lorenzo Duke of Urbino and Giuliano duke of Nemours. In addition to the funeral monuments, there are also the following sculputers made by Michelangelo: Medici Madonna, Dusk, Dawn, Night, Day and the portraits of Lorenzo Duke of Urbino and Giuliano Duke of Nemours.
Architect Matteo Nigetti planned and built the Chapel of the Princes, which was completed in the 1960s. It has the second big dome in Florence. The Opificio delle pietre dure made the interior of the chapel using coral, alabaster, quartz, porphyry, lapis lazuli, granite and mother-of-pearl. On the walls you can see the coats of arms of the cities of the Grand Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
The Medici grand dukes, their wives and close relatives are buried inside the crypt, which is the first place you can reach from the entrance. The Lorenese crypt is located between the funerary monument of Cosimo the Elder and the Medici burial ground, and some members of the Lorraine family are buried there. It was commissioned by Grand Duke Leopold II, and designed by the architect Emilio De Fabris.
The chapels can be reached by taxi or the ATAF C1 bus line.
Copyright photo of the article: www.gogofirenze.it