Michelangelo’s secret room to be opened after 500 years

Sacred buildings in Italy still hold many secrets. One has just been revealed. It is Michelangelo’s secret room, which is located in the basement of the Medici Chapel in Florence. The place will be opened to the public

The ‘Stanza Segreta’ chamber is a small room that is located in the basement of the Medici Chapel in Florence. The chapel itself is located at the church of San Lorenzo. Its first architect was Michelangelo, who oversaw the construction until 1535. He was then replaced by the architect Giorgio Vasari. Inside the chapel are the tombs of Lorenzo II di Piero de’ Medici (Duke of Urbino) Giuliano di Piero de’ Medici (second son of Peter de’ Medici)

The secret room is accessed via an inconspicuous and narrow staircase, which was covered by furniture for hundreds of years. The fact that the space will be opened to the public was announced by the museum authorities at a press conference held on 31 October

The room is 10 m long, 3 m wide and about 2.5 m high. The source of light is a small window. In total, Michelangelo spent three months of his life here. He was in hiding because of the death penalty issued by Pope Clement VII in 1530. The reason for the sentence was that Michelangelo had joined the revolt of the Republican Populists. The artist was allowed to leave his hiding place when the Medici and the Pope pardoned him to complete his work on the Sistine Chapel

Medici Chapel, photo by sailko, wikimedia.org, licence: CC BY 2.5

The secret room in the basement of the Medici Chapel was discovered as early as 1975. However, it did not cause a sensation at the time. The breakthrough came with the planned renovation of the chamber. It was only then that it was discovered that fragments of drawings had been found under two layers of plaster. Michelangelo was said to have made the drawings using coal and red chalk. The artist used familiar motifs from his work – one can see a drawing of ‘David’ and ‘Leda and the Swan’. There are also drawn fragments of frescoes from the Sistine Chapel. However, only a few people – historians and archaeologists – had access to the secret room. This is now changing

Visitors will be able to visit the site from 15 November. However, not everyone who wants to will be able to do so. The drawings are valuable, so the museum has limited the number of visitors to just four per fifteen minutes. Only 100 tickets will be available per week and the price of a normal ticket will be €33. Visits will be possible on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The museum informs that, for technical reasons (very narrow staircase), the exhibition will not be accessible to people with disabilities

photo by Francesco Fantani – Musei del Bargello

source: Musei del Bargello

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photo by Francesco Fantani – Musei del Bargello (museum press office)

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