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Laurentian Library

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza di San Lorenzo, 9, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 5:30 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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Ambra
Local tour guide
"Visit the Laurentian Library early in the morning, right as they open, to avoid the crowds that can obscure the intricate details of Michelangelo’s architectural designs. And don’t miss the hidden staircase on the right of the entrance vestibule; it's a subtle masterpiece not everyone notices."

What is Laurentian Library?

The Laurentian Library, or Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, is a historical jewel nestled in the heart of Florence, Italy. This renowned library houses a vast collection of priceless manuscripts and books, dating back to the early Renaissance period. It stands as a testament to the intellectual fervor and the patronage of the wealthy Medici family who greatly influenced the course of Florentine, and indeed, European history.

The library is an architectural masterpiece designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti, and its very walls seem to whisper stories of the past. With its elegant reading room, ornate staircase, and intricate woodwork, the Laurentian Library isn't just a repository of books; it's a celebration of learning and art intertwined.

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History of Laurentian Library

The story of the Laurentian Library began with Cardinal Giulio de Medici, who later became Pope Clement VII, commissioning Michelangelo to design a library that would house the extensive collection of manuscripts accumulated by the Medici family. The construction of the library commenced in 1524 but was not completed until after Michelangelo's time, due to his departure from Florence to Rome in 1534.

Despite the disruption, Michelangelo's plans were largely adhered to, and the library's construction was completed in a style that profoundly illustrates the architectural transition from the High Renaissance to Mannerism. The Laurentian Library was opened to the public in 1571, symbolizing an era when Florence was a nexus of scholarly activity and literature.

Why is Laurentian Library Important?

The Laurentian Library holds significance not only because of its impressive architectural design but also due to its indispensable collection of manuscripts and early printed books. Its inventory includes approximately 11,000 manuscripts and 4,500 early printed books, which holds immense historical and cultural value. Among its treasures is the Nahuatl Florentine Codex, one of the most important sources on Aztec culture pre-Spanish conquest, and works by Dante Alighieri.

The library serves as a symbol of the Medici family's legacy and their impact on the preservation of knowledge and the arts. It represents one of the earliest examples of a public library in Europe, emphasizing the accessibility of knowledge at a time when books were considered lavish commodities for the privileged few.

Things to Do & See at Laurentian Library

When you visit the Laurentian Library, the first thing that will take your breath away is Michelangelo's spectacular staircase that leads to the entrance—its flowing, unconventional form feels animated, almost like a sculpture in motion. Once inside, the reading room with its elaborate wooden benches, designed by Michelangelo himself, invites you to envision scholars pouring over ancient texts.

The library also boasts regularly rotating exhibits of some of its most precious holdings, allowing visitors to glimpse into the intellectual life of the Renaissance. You can take the time to absorb the meticulously crafted wooden ceiling and the beautifully frescoed walls - each piece contributes to the grand tapestry of art and scholarship that defines the Laurentian Library.

Stepping into the Redi Room, named after the librarian Francesco Redi is also a must. This room holds the private book collection of the Medici family, binding you closer to the history of one of the most influential dynasties of Italy. And, if you look closely, you might just find the secret passages that allowed members of the Medici family discreet access to the library's treasures.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the Laurentian Library?

The Laurentian Library is a historic library in Florence, Italy, famous for its architecture designed by Michelangelo and its collection of manuscripts and books collected by the Medici family.

Where is the Laurentian Library located in Florence?

The Laurentian Library is located in the cloister of San Lorenzo Church in Florence, Italy.

What are the opening hours of the Laurentian Library?

The opening hours of the Laurentian Library can vary, so it's best to check the library's official website or contact them directly for the most current information.

Does the Laurentian Library require an entrance fee?

There may be an entrance fee for the Laurentian Library. Visitors should verify current admission fees and policies prior to their visit.

What kind of collections can be found in the Laurentian Library?

The Laurentian Library houses a vast collection of ancient manuscripts, early printed books, and historical documents, many of which belonged to the Medici family.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza di San Lorenzo, 9, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 5:30 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps