This is a preview of the content in our Florence Art & Culture app. Get the app to:
  • Read offline
  • Remove ads
  • Access all content
  • Use the in-app Map to find sites, and add custom locations (your hotel...)
  • Build a list of your own favourites
  • Search the contents with full-text search functionality
  • ... and more!
iOS App Store Google Play

Palazzo Medici-Riccardi

The Medici Townhouse

Palazzo Medici-Riccardi

The early Medici, in sharp contrast to their archducal descendants, were fairly publicity shy. Cosimo il Vecchio, the richest man in Europe, walked about the streets in simple attire, and never with a bodyguard.

But in the 1440s, when his business became too big for his father’s house in Piazza del Duomo, he decided it was time for a new palace, bought a site on the widest street in Florence and asked Brunelleschi to design it. His wooden model was so splendid that Cosimo was embarrassed, and asked Michelozzo to come up with something more discreet. Brunelleschi in rage broke his model into bits.

Michelozzo’s palace was a landmark in Florentine architecture. Until then, the mansions of the elite resembled little fortresses (see the Palazzo Spini, in Piazza Santa Trínita); Michelozzo did away with the towers and battlements, and instead created a far more classical structure. One of his innovations was the rusticated ground floor ‘to unite an appearance of solidity and strength, with the light and shadow so essential to beauty under the glare of the Italian sun’. This was the Medici bank headquarters, where Cosimo stowed his florins, and it originally had no windows.

Read the full content in the app
iOS App Store Google Play

Palazzi and Villas

All About the Medici

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by PD Art, Sailko, GNU Creative Commons License