11 Places to Find the Art of Michelangelo in Florence, Italy

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Few people had more influence on Western art than Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known simply as Michelangelo.

Despite spending most of his life in Rome, Michelangelo considered himself a Florentine. And it is here that you will find several of his sculptures, his sole completed easel painting and a few architectural projects.

Do you want to learn more about the “divine artist” and his works?

Explore the life and art of a giant of the Italian Renaissance by walking in the footsteps of Michelangelo in Florence.

marble bust of the head of michelangelo in florence

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The Art of Michelangelo in Florence at a Glance

In a hurry? Here’s a handy checklist of where to find Michelangelo’s art in Florence.

To print or download a pdf of this file, simply click here or on the image. No strings attached.

checklist of where to find art of michelangelo in florence

A Short Biography of Michelangelo

Born on 6 March 1475 in the Tuscan town of Caprese, near Arezzo, Michelangelo was consumed with artistic ambition from an early age. When he was 13, he became an apprentice to Domenico Ghirlandaio, one of Florence’s most successful fresco painters.

His talent quickly became apparent and in 1489 he was sent to Lorenzo de’Medici’s sculpture school in the Medici gardens. He later went on to live in the Medici household.

Against a background of political instability in Florence, Michelangelo left for Venice in 1494, the first of his many flights.

Lured by prestigious commissions, he moved to Rome in 1496 and served under seven popes. His most formidable patron was Julius II, with whom the artist had a tempestuous relationship.

And it was in Rome that Michelangelo created many of his masterpieces, including the Last Judgement on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo died in Rome in 1564.

drawing of michelangelo as an old man
Drawing of Michelangelo as an old man

Where to Find the Art of Michelangelo in Florence

1. Santo Spirito Church (Basilica di Santo Spirito)

Following the death of his patron Lorenzo de Medici, Michelangelo devoted his skills to a detailed study of anatomy by dissecting corpses in the church of Santo Spirito in Florence’s Oltrarno district. By way of a “thank you” to the church’s monastic community, he carved this wooden crucifix around 1492.

michelangelo wooden sculpture of naked jesus on cross
Gary Campbell-Hall, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Michelangelo’s knowledge of the human form is evident in this striking naked figure of Christ, which was highly unusual at the time.

Information on visiting Basilica di Santo Spirito here.

2. Bargello Museum

courtyard of renaissance palazzo seen through an arch with statue in foreground
Bargello Museum

The Bargello Museum is home to some of the most magnificent sculptures in Florence, including four works by Michelangelo:

  • Bacchus
  • Pitti Tondo
  • David-Apollo
  • Brutus

Bacchus (1496)

This statue of a naked and debauched Bacchus was Michelangelo’s first major commission, sculpted at the tender age of 21.

statue of the god bacchus raising a cup to his lips

Unsurprisingly, this leering sculpture of the pagan god of wine was not a hit with Cardinal Raffaele Riario who had commissioned it. It eventually ended up in the garden of Michelangelo’s friend Jacopo Galli.

Pitti Tondo (1503 – 1504)

This marble relief of the Madonna and Child in a tondo (circular form) was a commission from Bartolomeo Pitti.

circular sculpture of madonna and 2 children

It’s a tender scene with Mary gazing wistfully into the distance as Jesus leans into her. You can just make out John the Baptist in the background

David-Apollo (1530)

This unfinished marble sculpture of a nude man is variously identified as Apollo or David.

michelangelo statues of naked man with sling over shoulder

Apollo-David was snapped up by Duke Cosimo I for his private collection in the 16th Century. It was moved to the Boboli Gardens in 1824.

Brutus (1540)

Brutus was famously one of the assassins of the dictator Julius Caesar, but Caesar was also his friend and mentor. The nobleman’s internal conflict is encapsulated in this Michelangelo sculpture.

If you stand in front of the sculpture, Brutus in profile looks heroic. But swivel round to look at his face full-on and he appears downright sinister.

marble bust of brutus in profile
marble bust of brutus whuch is one of the famous sculptures in florence
or villain?

Visit the Bargello Museum’s website for ticket information and opening hours.

3. Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze)

The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, known simply as the Accademia, is an essential part of a Florence itinerary. It is best known as the home of Michelangelo’s most famous sculpture, David. However, his other sculptures housed here are equally compelling.

Here are the Michelangelo sculptures in the Accademia:

  • David
  • The Young Slave
  • The Bearded Slave
  • The Awakening Slave
  • The Bound Slave (The Atlas)
  • St. Matthew

David (1501 – 1504)

Michelangelo’s buff biblical shepherd barely needs an introduction. Carved from gleaming white marble around the same time as his Pitti Tondo and standing 14 feet high, David is a symbol of both the Renaissance and the city of Florence.

statue of david by michelangelo

David guarded the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio for 350 years before he was moved to the Accademia.

The Prisoners (1516 – 1534)

In 1505, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to build him a monumental tomb. However, the pope scaled down the project and the final structure, not completed until 1545, was on a much-reduced scale.

The Prisoners were designed for this tomb and give us a window into Michelangelo’s creative process and understanding of the human body. You can still see his chisel marks on these unfinished figures, which look like they are trying to free themselves from the stone.

statue of a bearded man
The Bearded Slave, Michelangelo
rough statue of a young man
The Young Slave, Michelangelo

The Prisoners (or Slaves) are as follows: Young Slave, Bearded Slave, Awakening Slave and Bound Slave.

St. Matthew (1506 – 1507)

unfinished sculpture of saint matthew holding a gospel by michelangelo

This unfinished marble sculpture was intended for one of the choir niches of Florence Cathedral but Michelangelo abandoned it when he was summoned to Rome. Like The Prisoners, this sculpture offers art historians a tantalising glimpse into the technique of the great master.

Visit the Accademia’s website for ticket information and opening hours.

4. Uffizi Galleries

One of Firenze’s most famous landmarks, the Uffizi Galleries displays the greatest collection of Florence’s Italian Renaissance art. It also houses the only Michelangelo easel painting in Florence: Doni Tondo or The Holy Family.

Doni Tondo or The Holy Family (1506)

circular painting of the holy family

The Holy Family was created around the time Michelangelo was liberating St. Matthew from a block of Carrara marble. It is his only completed easel painting. This skilful tondo draws inspiration from classical sculptures, its figures looking like three groups of statues.

Find out more about tickets and opening times at the Uffizi’s official website

5. The Medici Chapels (Cappelle Medicee)

Michelangelo had reached mid-life when he was commissioned to build burial chapels for the Medici in 1519.

Collectively, The Medici Chapels are two structures: The New Sacristy (Sagrestia Nuova) and the Chapel of the Princes (Capella dei Principi).

The Sagrestia Nuova was Michelangelo’s first stab at architecture and is one of the best places to see the art of Michelangelo. It is home to seven of his sculptures:

  • Night & Day
  • Dawn & Dusk
  • Madonna and Child
  • Lorenzo
  • Guiliano
statue of lorenzo the magnificent
Lorenzo in contemplative mode

Visit the Medici Chapels website for ticket information and opening hours.

6. San Lorenzo Church (Basilica di San Lorenzo)

man walking a dog outside an old basilica
Basilica di San Lorenzo, Florence

Built on the site of the first Christian church in Florence, the monumental San Lorenzo is the final resting place of the principal members of the mighty Medici.

Its historic Laurentian Library is considered to be Michelangelo’s finest architectural achievement.

It was commissioned in 1523, but only the walls of the reading room were complete by the time the artist left Florence in 1534. The work was finished by others, interpreting his designs whilst integrating the parts he had executed.

Visit the San Lorenzo website for ticket information and opening hours.

7. Casa Buonarroti

When Michelangelo was working on San Lorenzo he lived in two houses on Via Ghibellina in the Santa Croce neighbourhood. He planned to convert several houses on this street into a fine palazzo.

Drawing was key to Michelangelo’s practice and Casa Buonarroti is home to the largest collection of his drawings There are also two of his early bas-reliefs: the Madonna of the Stairs and the Battle of the Centaurs.

a poem written by michelangelo on aged paper in italian
Michelangelo’s letter to Vittoria Colonna, Casa Buonarroti

Visit Casa Buonarroti’s website for ticket information and opening hours.

8. Palazzo Vecchio

facade of medieval palazzo vecchio in florence with clock tower
Palazzo Vecchio, one of the places to find sculptures of Michelangelo in Florence

The main reason to buy a ticket for Palazzo Vecchio is to visit its magnificent Hall of Five Hundred (Salone dei Cinquecento) which holds Michelangelo’s sculpture, The Genius of Victory (1532 – 1534). It is thought that this was created for the ill-fated tomb of Pope Julius II.

The Genius of Victory marks the end of Michelangelo’s final stint in Florence. Once this was finished, he packed his bags for Rome for good.

Visit Palazzo Vecchio’s website for ticket information and opening hours.

9. Duomo Museum (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo)

The lesser-visited Opera del Duomo Museum is a tranquil refuge from the visitor hordes and is home to some excellent examples of Florentine sculpture. These include Michelangelo’s penultimate sculpture, the Florentine Pieta.

Pietà (1547 – 1555)

I was very moved by this sublime Michelangelo sculpture, also known as the Bandini Pieta or the Lamentation over the Dead Christ.  

marble sculpture in florence of the pieta with 4 figures

Michelangelo designed his own tomb with a Pietà at its centre Three mourners tend to the body of a crucified Christ: Mary, Mary Magdalen and Nicodemus, whose face was modelled on that of Michelangelo.

Visit the Opera del Duomo Museum’s website for ticket information and opening hours.

10 and 11: Piazza della Signoria and Piazzale Michelangelo

Finally, if you can’t visit the Accademia, you can see one of the two fake Davids in town.

One stands in the statue’s original position, guarding the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio. The second is at Piazzale Michelangelo, one of Florence’s finest viewpoints.

statue of david outside the entrance to the palazzo vecchio one of the famous monuments in florence
Fake David guarding Palazzo Vecchio

Map of Where to Find Michelangelo’s Art in Florence

If you find it helpful to map things out, here’s one I prepared earlier. For an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.

map of where to find michelangelo in florence
Where to find artworks by Michelangelo in Florence, Italy. Map data @ Google 2022.

On the Trail of the Life of Michelangelo in Tuscany

Caprese Michelangelo: The birthplace of Michelangelo

Do you want to see where the magic started? If so, head to the village of Caprese, near Arezzo in Tuscany.

Caprese Castle was where the great man took his first breath and is home to the Michelangelo Buonarroti Birthplace (Museo Casa Natale Michelangelo Buonarroti).

Visit the official website for further information and opening hours

Palazzo Medici Riccardi: Michelangelo learns his trade

small pretty courtyard garden with fountain and statues

Or why not visit the palace where a young Michelangelo learnt the tricks of the trade?

Once the home of Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449 – 1492), ownership of the Medici Ricardi Palace passed from the Medici family to the Ricardi family in the 1700s. Today, the palace’s tiny Chapel of the Magi with Benozzo Gozzoli’s fresco cycle, The Journey of the Magi, pulls the crowds.

Visit the Medici Riccardi Palace website for ticket prices and opening hours

Carrara Marble Quarries: Michelangelo’s raw material

mountain face of carrara marble

David had to start somewhere.

Michelangelo favoured the marble quarry at Carrara because the stone was white and pure. He made many visits here to supervise the cutting and shipping of the marble.

You can take a Carrara marble quarry tour to learn more about this sublime raw material and explore a unique landscape.

Basilica of Santa Croce: Michelangelo’s tomb by Vasari

Michelangelo’s story reaches its conclusion back in Florence.

Keeping company with Dante, Galileo, Machiavelli and Rossini, he is laid to rest in the Basilica di Santa Croce. Giorgio Vasari designed his ornate tomb and the three sculptures represent painting, sculpture and architecture.

A fitting final tribute to a true Renaissance man.

tomb of michelangelo in florence with three sculptural figures

And That’s a Wrap!

I hope my guide to Michelangelo’s art in Florence has sparked your curiosity and helps you plan your visit.

If this has been helpful, you may enjoy some of my other guides to art in Italy:

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman is a Renaissance fan girl and has been travelling the globe for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.

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