8 Places to Find Michelangelo Sculptures in Florence, Italy

Explore the life and art of the “divine artist” by walking in the footsteps of Michelangelo in Florence, Italy

From the magnificent David to his unfinished masterpieces, here is your guide to where to find Michelangelo sculptures in Florence. They are all within walking distance of each other and there’s a map at the end of this post to help you on your way.

marble statue of David is one of the Michelangelo sculptures in Florence

Michelangelo Sculptures in Florence at a Glance

Do you fancy a handy checklist of where to find the sculptures of Michelangelo in Florence? If so take a look at this hand-crafted one.

To print or download a pdf of this file, simply click here or on the image itself, no strings attached.

A Short Biography of Michelangelo

bust of the head of michelangelo

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known simply as Michelangelo, was born on 6 March 1475 in Caprese, near Arezzo in Tuscany.

At the tender age of 13, he was apprenticed to Domenico Ghirlandaio, one of the most successful fresco painters in Florence. In 1489, he was sent to Lorenzo de’Medici’s sculpture school in the Medici gardens and later lived in the Medici household.

Lured by prestigious commissions, he spent most of his life in Rome. He served under seven popes, most famously Julius II, with whom Michelangelo had a tempestuous relationship.

And it was in the Eternal City that Michelangelo created many of his masterpieces, including the Last Judgement on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo died in Rome in 1564 and was laid to rest in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. Giorgio Vasari designed his elaborate tomb and its three sculptures represent painting, sculpture, and architecture.

ornate marble tomb of michelangelo in florence with three sculptural figures

Where to Find the Sculptures by Michelangelo in Florence

1. Santo Spirito Church (Basilica di Santo Spirito)

Following the death of his patron Lorenzo de’Medici, Michelangelo turned his attention to studying anatomy by dissecting dead bodies in the church of Santo Spirito in Florence’s Oltrarno district. To thank the church’s monastic community, he carved this wooden crucifix around 1492.

wooden sculpture by michelangelo of naked jesus on cross
Gary Campbell-Hall, CC BY 2.0

Those hours chopping up corpses were starting to pay off. This striking naked figure of Christ – highly unusual at that time – demonstrates Michelangelo’s knowledge of the human body.

Find information on visiting Basilica di Santo Spirito here.

2. Bargello Museum

courtyard of a beautiful renaissance palazzo seen through an arch with arched porticos and statue in foreground
Bargello Museum

The Bargello Museum is to sculpture what Florence’s Uffizi Gallery is to art. Housing some of the most magnificent sculptures in the world, including works by Michelangelo, it is one of the must-see sights in Florence.

Bacchus (1496)

This larger-than-life-sized marble statue of Bacchus was one of Michelangelo’s earliest works of art. Completed around 1496/1497, he sculpted it at the tender age of 21.

marble sculpture of the god bacchus with a small boy eating grapes

Michelangelo’s Roman God of wine is naked and debauched. He holds a goblet of wine in his right hand as a faun eats grapes that escape his grip.

Unsurprisingly, this sculpture of a tipsy Bacchus was rejected by Cardinal Raffaele Riario who had commissioned it. Eventually, it found its way to the garden of Jacopo Galli, a friend of Michelangelo.

Pitti Tondo (1503 – 1504)

This marble sculpture of the Madonna and Child in a tondo (circular form) was a commission from Bartolomeo Pitti as a gift for his son.

circular michelangelo sculpture of madonna and 2 children

It’s a tender scene. Mary gazes wistfully into the distance as a relaxed Jesus leans into her. Although not as prominent, you can just make out John the Baptist in the background.

David-Apollo (1530)

The identity of Michelangelo’s nude man has been debated. The subject of the unfinished statue was never recorded and he has been identified as either Apollo or David.

statue of naked man with a sling over shoulder

Look at how the use of contours and twisting allows multiple aspects of the body to be seen from a single angle.

This 1.46 meter-high sculpture was commissioned for the private palace of Baccio Valori, who was appointed governor of Florence in 1530 following the defeat of the resurgent republic by the Medici. After the death of Pope Clement VII, Michelangelo’s Medici patron and protector, the sculptor fled Florence for Rome, leaving the statue unfinished.

David-Apollo ended up in the private collection of Duke Cosimo I, and in 1824 it was moved to the Boboli Gardens.

Brutus (1540)

This marble bust of Brutus demonstrates Michelangelo’s mastery of capturing the finest details of human expression. It’s one of my favourite Italian statues.

Brutus was famously one of the assassins of the dictator Julius Caesar, but Caesar was also his friend and mentor. The nobleman’s internal conflict is captured in this sculpture.

Stand in front of the sculpture. In profile, Brutus looks assured and heroic.

But swivel round to look at his face full-on and he appears downright sinister, filled with disdain and hate.

marble bust of Brutus in profile
Hero?
marble bust of Brutus
or villain?

Head to the Bargello Museum’s website for ticket information and opening hours.

3. Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze)

The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, known as simply the Accademia, is an essential addition to any Florence itinerary. Although it is world-famous as the home of Michelangelo’s David, his other sculptures here are also compelling.

David (1501 – 1504)

As his most famous sculpture, Michelangelo’s buff biblical shepherd barely needs an introduction. Carved from fine Carrara marble around the same time as his Pitti Tondo, David is a symbol of both the Renaissance and the city of Florence.

marble statue of David by Michelangelo
marble statue of David by Michelangelo

Standing 14 feet high and weighing six tonnes, this mammoth sculpture captures David as he is sussing out his enemy. This is a relaxed yet alert and confident David.

But is it? When you view him face-on, does he look apprehensive to you?

David guarded the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio for 350 years before he was moved to the Accademia.

The Prisoners (1516 – 1534)

Known as The Prisoners or The Slaves, this extraordinary group of Michelangelo sculptures were commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1505 for his monumental tomb. The Slaves are collectively the Young Slave, Bearded Slave, Awakening Slave and Bound Slave.

However, the project was significantly scaled down by the pope and was not completed until 1545 on a much-reduced scale.

The Prisoners give us a precious window into Michelangelo’s creative process and his understanding of the human body. Just look at his chisel marks on these unfinished figures, which look like they are trying to free themselves from the stone.

unfinished rough marble statue of a bearded man
The Bearded Slave, Michelangelo
unfinished statue of a young man
The Young Slave, Michelangelo

St. Matthew (1506 – 1507)

unfinished sculpture of saint matthew holding a gospel by michelangelo

Standing 271 cm tall, this unfinished marble sculpture was destined for a choir niche in Florence Cathedral, one of a group of all the Apostles. However, Michelangelo abandoned work on it when he was summoned to Rome.

St. Matthew emerges from the stone, looking more like a relief than a statue. Like The Prisoners, this sculpture gives us a tantalising glimpse into the technique of Michelangelo.

Palestrina Pietà (1555)

unfinished sculpture of the palestrina pieta

This is the third pietà that Michelangelo worked on. His first, and most acclaimed pietà is in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Doubt has been cast on the provenance of this sculpture, with some experts stating the elements of its style are not consistent with the work of Michelangelo. However, the consensus is that the Palestrina Pietà is likely to have been carved by his hand, albeit with help from his students.

Head to the Accademia’s website for ticket information and opening hours.

4. The Medici Chapels (Cappelle Medicee)

In 1519, Michelangelo was commissioned to build burial chapels for the Medici. The Medici Chapels comprise two structures: The New Sacristy (Sagrestia Nuova) and the Chapel of the Princes (Capella dei Principi).

Michelangelo designed the chapels’ sculptures dedicated to members of the Medici family: Night & Day, Dawn & Dusk, Madonna and Child, Lorenzo and Guiliano.

statue of lorenzo the magnificent by michelangelo
Lorenzo deep in thought

Visit the Medici Chapels website for ticket information and opening hours.

5. Palazzo Vecchio

the exterior of the plazzao vecchio in florence italy
Palazzo Vecchio, one of the places to find sculptures of Michelangelo in Florence

Palazzo Vecchio was the Town Hall of Renaissance Florence, appropriated by Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519 – 1574) as his lavish palace. 

Buy a ticket to visit Cosimo’s lavish royal apartments and make your way to the Hall of Five Hundred (Salone dei Cinquecento) which holds Michelangelo’s sculpture, the Genius of Victory (1532 – 1534). It is thought that this was created for the ill-fated tomb of Pope Julius II.

The Genius of Victory was the last sculpture that Michelangelo created in Florence. Once it was finished, he packed his bags for Rome for good.

Visit Palazzo Vecchio’s website for ticket information and opening hours.

6. Duomo Museum (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo)

The tranquil Opera del Duomo Museum is home to one of my favourite Michelangelo sculptures in Florence, the Bandini Pietà.

Bandini Pietà (1547 – 1555)

I defy you not to be moved by this, Michelangelo’s penultimate sculpture.  

marble michelangelo sculpture in florence of the pieta with 4 figures

Michelangelo designed his own tomb with a pietà at its centre. Also called The Deposition or The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, the Bandini Pietà depicts three mourners tending to the body of a crucified Christ: Mary, Mary Magdalen and Nicodemus (or others say this is Joseph of Arimathea).

The latter’s face was modelled on Michelangelo. By that time, he was as an old man facing his mortality.

Visit the Opera del Duomo Museum’s website for ticket information and opening hours.

7. Piazza della Signoria

If you are not able to visit the Accademia, you can see one or both of the fake Davids in town, just a few of the fabulous free sculptures in Florence.

One stands in the statue’s original position, guarding the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio.

statue of david outside palazzo vecchio in florence
Fake David guarding Palazzo Vecchio

8. Piazzale Michelangelo

The second, a bronze copy, is in Piazzale Michelangelo. This vast square, high up in the Oltrarno, is one of Florence’s finest viewpoints.

panoramic view of river arno in Florence with bridges and red dome of cathedral
View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

Map of Where to Find Michelangelo Sculptures in Florence

If you find it helpful to map things out, here’s one that I prepared earlier. For an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.

map of where to find Michelangelo sculptures in Florence Italy
Where to find sculpture by Michelangelo in Florence, Italy. Map data @ Google 2022.

Have a fabulous time following in the footsteps of Michelangelo in Florence. If you want to learn more about the great man, here is my pick of the best books about Michelangelo.

Here are my top tips for seeing the David statue in Florence. Finally, if you are an art lover looking for other things to do in Florence, take a look at a few of my other Florance art guides: