Città metropolitana, firenze

The Cavalcade of the Magi

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sabato 11 novembre 2017

The Chapel of the Magi, is the most famous and sumptuous attraction inside the Medici Riccardi Palace. Visitors from all over the world come to admire the well-preserved frescoes and bask in the splendour of the fifteenth-century chapel


The Chapel of the Magi was designed by architect Michelozzo di Bartolomeo and decorated by Renaissance master Benozzo Gozzoli. The frescoes represent the Procession of the Magi to Bethlehem. Inspired by a religious theme, the cavalcade of the Magi was the pretext to commemorate a historical event that enhanced the prestige of the Medici family. This was the lavish processional entry of Pope Pius II into Florence, in 1459, on his way to Mantua to promote a crusade against the Turks. For the occasion, several Italian Princes had gathered in Florence to join the Pope’s procession. Among them were the allies of the Medici, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, son of the Grand Duke of Milan, and Sigismondo Malatesta from Rimini, who are portrayed in the scene.

The solemn journey of the Magi begins in Jerusalem which is depicted as a white-walled city at the top of the East wall, on the right-hand side of the entrance. The journey then unfolds clockwise towards Bethlehem. The Magi are represented according to the traditional iconography, each of them is depicted in their distinctive colour: Gaspar is dressed in white while Balthazar wears green, and Melchior is clad in red.

The cycle of frescos is enriched by sophisticated details that combine a worldly and fairy-tale atmosphere in the narrative. To achieve the magnificent effects in his work, the artist used rare and costly materials such as lapis lazuli, gleaming lacquers, and gold.

Recognizable among the parade, are the portraits of numerous notabilities and members of the Medici family. Among them, on the East wall, Cosimo the Elder, Piero the Gouty and Lorenzo the Magnificent can be seen with the artist Benozzo Gozzoli himself and Pope Pius II. The chapel of the Magi is a beautiful gem not to be missed when visiting Florence.

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