The Palazzo Medici-Riccardi is one of the most interesting buildings in Florence and more or less inspired the more famous Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Strozzi. The main attraction of the palace is the Cappella dei Magi on the belvedere floor, frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli.
Palazzo Medici-Riccardi Florence
Address, opening hours and admission
The building is located on Via Cavour, 3 – Florence (tel. +39 0552760340). Opening hours: From 8.30am to 7pm. Closed: Wednesday. Entrance fee: 7 Euro. Discount: 4 Euro. The Cappella dei Magi can be visited by a maximum of 10 people at the same time, for a maximum of 7 minutes.
History and description
The architect of the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi was Michelozzo and the commissioner for the construction was Cosimo de’ Medici il Vecchio. It was built in 1444 and served as a private residence for the Medici family until Cosimo I moved to the Palazzo Vecchio.
Cappella dei Magi
The Cappella dei Magi can be visited by entering the door on the right once you have entered the courtyard. This is the oldest remaining chapel in an old Florentine palazzo.
The murals were made by Benozzo Gozzoli, who worked on it from 1459 to 1463. The theme is the journey of the wise men on their way to the place where Jesus was to be born.
The entire Florentine aristocracy is depicted in the paintings, as well as neo-Platonic philosophers from the circle surrounding the Medici. The artwork was commissioned by Piero il Gottoso, son of Cosimo il Vecchio. Other members of the Medici family depicted are Giuliano and Lorenzo il Magnifico. The latter is one of the Three Kings on a Horse.
Benito Gozzoli was a pupil of Beato Angelico. He painted himself no less than twice on the walls of the chapel.
The Italian word for “uniform” (divisa) is thought to derive from the tunics of the dark-skinned servants. The trouser legs of these men have different colors.
A theory that circulated for some time claiming that Count Dracula was also depicted was quickly disproved.
The Cavalcata dei Magi (“The Horseback Riding Three Kings”) refers to a number of different historical events. The first is the Council of Florence, which brought large groups of people and exotic animals from the east to the city in 1439. The second is the visit of Pope Pius II Piccolomini who came to announce a new crusade in 1459.
The third event is the celebration of the Brotherhood of the Three Kings. This took place under the patronage of the Medici in the San Marco Monastery. This brotherhood was Cosimo il Vecchio’s response to the cultural center that the rival Strozzi family wanted to create in the Santa Trinità Church. The three kings thus became the symbols of the Medici, who wanted to be the “Kings of Florence.”