Most people come to Florence and have a visit to the Accademia on their must-see list for one statue only – the statue that has come to symbolize Florence: Michelangelo’s David.
This massive 13 foot tall warrior stands proudly at the end of a wing that has other works by Michelangelo in it. But you are drawn to the David so go there first, wander all around the statue standing high on his pedestal, and just enjoy this magnificent piece of art. I had seen lots of art in the week I was there – and some of it rather famous and spectacular pieces – so while I was excited about finally seeing the David, it wasn’t a big deal for me. But I was wrong…I was surprised at my first reaction to the piece as I saw it from the other end of the hallway. It was breathtaking…literally. Like everyone else, I didn’t even see the other works that I walked right passed to get to Florence’s most famous piece. And once there, I enjoyed the work of a master sculptor.
David was sculpted out of one big piece of marble that had been sitting around the Cathedral work area. At some point, someone had come along and attempted to make something with it, but gave up. It was Michelangelo that got the commission to create a statue from the marble.
This is the Biblical David, the young boy that slays the giant Goliath with a single pebble. As he stands there, in the moments before the kill, you can see the emotion in his eyes. He’s thinking, strategizing, and formulating his plan. His sling is over his shoulder and the pebble is in his hand. This is unlike the other Davids in Florence – Donatello’s two and Verrocchio’s; these three Davids show the boy after he has killed the giant. Michelangelo chose the moment before – David doesn’t have that cocky victorious air about him, but rather he’s contemplating the upcoming battle. Was Michelangelo’s creation of a facial expression of readiness influenced by Donatello’s St. George which is now in the Bargello?
Michelangelo sculpted this massive statue in 18 months and kept scaffolding around it so no one could see what he was working on. Once it was finished, a committee (that did not include the artist) decided it should be placed in front of the Palazzo Vecchio (town hall), where it stood for many years. However, time and weather took its toll and it was brought inside in the 1800s with a copy standing outside in the original location.
NOTE: Don’t even try to take a photo of David. The guards around the statue are rather vicious in their enforcement of the no photo rule. I saw several people get verbally abused for even looking at their camera!
Once you have had your fill of David, go back and look at the other statues by Michelangelo that you walked past. St. Matthew was the first of 12 statues commissioned by Pope Julius II for his tomb (not all twelve were finished or even started since he then had Michelangelo stop sculpting in order to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel). But in his St. Matthew you can see the moment of conflict that Matthew had when giving up the money of a tax collector to become a follower of Christ. Is it finished? No, it doesn’t look like it – but perhaps this is the way Michelangelo wanted to leave him. The slaves statues are definitely not finished (there are two nearly finished slaves in the Louvre in Paris), but they demonstrate the genius that was Michelangelo. NOTE: If you want to see the finished tomb, although dramatically scaled back from Michelangelo's original plan, you will have to travel to Rome to the church of San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains). You can visit this church virtually by visiting my VT page for San Pietro in Vincoli and see photos of the finished tomb.
Elsewhere in the museum are other Renaissance art pieces from painters such as Uccello, Ghirlandaio, and Botticelli.
Open Tuesday-Sunday 8:15 am – 6:50 pm; Closed Mondays, Dec 25, Jan 1, and May 1.
Isn’t he grand?!? I surprised myself by how much I was in awe of that statue. But we have other places to get to before our time in Florence is over. Many of our sites coming up will be connected to the Medici in some way and we’ll see the symbols of the Medici family prominently displayed in these locations.
David! He seems to be everywhere in Florence. David represents the Florentine people – the little warrior that fights the large giant (other larger city-states, Rome, etc.) and comes up victorious. He’s kind of the mascot of Florence.
Most people come to Florence with the must-see of seeing Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia, which is a good thing – he is absolutely worth the time! But there are other Davids that are worth visiting as well…in fact, David can be found in quite a few places around town.
A visit to the Bargello will get you three Davids to see – two by Donatello and one by Verrocchio:
- Donatello’s earlier marble David stands near his bronze David – both are very different from the other even though they have the same creator. One is clothed, one is not, one is marble, one is bronze, one is life sized, one is not, and the comparisons are endless. You can easily compare them since they stand in the same room nearby each other.
- Verrocchio’s David is typically in the Bargello; however, when we were last in Florence, it was on loan to the Palazzo Pitti for a special exhibition.
No time to wait in line to see the real David by Michelangelo? Then stop by the front of the Palazzo Vecchio (next to the Uffizi Gallery) and see a full size copy of Florence’s most famous statue. This is the location where the real one used to stand; however, it was placed inside to protect is from vandals and weather and a duplicate put in its place. It will give you an idea of what the real one is like.
If you want to see yet another version of this same David, climb to the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo for a gorgeous view of Florence and you will find David overlooking the city.
David is everywhere in the city - take time to find the various ones and compare the different techniques the artists used.
Yes, there are many Davids in Florence. But now was our time to visit the one that most people have come to see. Our class was off to the Accademia and THE David.
Moved from its original position in the Piazza della Signoria, Michelangelo's "David" is on display at the Galleria della Accademia. This is one of the best known museums in Florence. Also found in the "Galleria" are Michelangelo's "The four prisoners" and the "Pieta of Palestina". There are also many paintings collected by the Grand Duke Peter Leopold as well as some exhibits of musical instruments.
It is open Tuesday - Sunday from 8.15 to 18.50 and costs about 6.50Euro.
One day in Florence? Well, definitely book museum tickets in advanceas you don't want to wast precious time queuing. Try these sites: `
Or...unless you are seriously into Renaissance art and are likely to burst into tears at the sight of David, then walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset with an expensive bottle of Prosecco and a couple of nice glasses, see the David there (it's not a bad copy of the original) and enjoy one of the best sunsets anywhere on the planet.
Michelangelo's David is the symbol of Florence. It was sculpted between 1502 and 1504. The original statue is in the apse of the Academia. No photography is allowed in the Academia. A replica of David stands in front of the main entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio.
The Accademia del Disegno was the first academy of drawing in Europe, and was founded in the middle of the sixteenth century. Twenty years later, courtesy of the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, the school gained its own nearby gallery, the Galleria dell'Accademia, current home of David.
David was commissioned in 1501 by the Cathedral Works Committee. At the age of 26, Michelangelo was given a leftover block of marble that came from the mountains of Carrara, one which had previously been worked on by various other artists. The piece was intended as a monumental work, a testimony to the city's republican pride, not one for close confinement, but was moved to the Accademia in 1873 (from outside the Palazzo Vecchio, where a replica now stands ) to protect it from the ravages of time and the weather.
The gallery is also home to another remarkable work by Michelangelo, the unfinished piece entitled 'Slaves', and there are large picture galleries as well as other works of sculpture to be seen; however, there can be no doubting the true crowd-pleaser is David.
Originally The Accademia was the world's first art school. But it is best known for being the home of Michelangelo's most famous work and the most famous sculpture in the Western World, David. You will not be disappointed, for David is simply amazing. David stands over 13 feet tall and was sculpted between 1501 and 1504. David is a depiction of the young boy who slew Goliath and is a symbolic commemoration of the start of the republican Florence.
David is proportionally perfect and the detail by Michelangelo is spectacular. David's muscled calves, ribbed abs, and the veins running through his hands and arms attest to that. Not to mention the rest of him! Sculpture is my favorite art media and David is mesmerizing. Set on a pedestal - about 6 feet tall - David looms over you. Take your time walking around him taking in all the details. David is a MUST SEE in Florence.
The rest of the museum is also very interesting. There are several other sculptures and very interesting early Renaissance religious art. I particularly liked the plaster sculptures by Pampaloni and Bartolini.
The pictures here were taken when photography of David was allowed. (They've been scanned so the quality is not as good as my original photos.) Although photographing David is no longer allowed, you will see plenty of people hiding behind the pillars taking pictures.
I recommend ordering your tickets online to avoid the line to purchase tickets. Even at that, arrive a little before your scheduled time.
Full Price: € 6,50
Reduced: € 3,25
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 8:15 a.m. - 6:50 p.m., closed Monday
Please note that all visitor information is correct as of this writing.
You can't come to Florence and not see Michelangelo's David, and we were very lucky with the situation of our hotel.
Halfway between the Accademia and Il Duomo. We wandered up to the Accademia expecting to book for later in the afternoon or at least queue but it was pretty quiet.
There are some wonderful sculptures housed here, four unfinished Michelangelo's entitled The Prisoners or Slaves but there is no doubt about the star attraction here.
David is sited at the end of a gallery at the head of an alcove, you can walk all the way round him and marvel at just how incfredible this sculpture is.
One critic when seeing David for the first time in the 16th century said there was no point to looking at anything else after seeing this piece. I have to say it's very difficult to disagree with him.
On the train in, we finally pulled out the guide book and read up on Florence, which is when we discovered it is recommended to get reservation to to Accademia, otherwise you face hours in line. Since it was too late to worry about it, we just took our chances. Arriving, we got in the unprepared line and watched the prepared line zip on in. After 1/2 hour, our line had moved 2 inches. We decided we would have to pass on David, and went about exploring Florence. About 4 pm, we were going to give it another try when a torrential rain storm hit, driving everyone under cover of the building eaves. When it finally let up, we waded on down to the Accademia. Lo and behold, not a single person in line, we just waltzed right in. So, if you find yourself in our predicament, try waiting till later.
The main part of the museum has some nice things, but it is the hallway with Michelangelo's works that is truly breathtaking, and I mean that in the respect it took the breath right out of me. The hallway starts off with works he began, never finished, and they are just amazing. I was so taken with them, I didn't even notice the end of the hallway until my daughter said "LOOK!" When I looked to the end of the hall and saw David, I was so amazed, had no idea how massive the statue was.
For some reason, the Italians are very fussy about pictures, same as Sistine Chapel. But I had my daughter along to get a few memories for me. Others were silly enough not to turn off their flashes, so the guards were constantly yelling at them. So, if you want to sneak a picture or two, just remember to turn off your flash!
David, sculpted from 1501 to 1504, is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture and one of Michelangelo's two greatest works of sculpture, along with the Pietà. It is the statue of the young Israelite king David alone that almost certainly is one of the most recognizable stone sculptures in the history of art. It has become regarded as a symbol both of strength and youthful human beauty. The 5.17 meter (17 ft) marble statue portrays the Biblical King David in the nude, at the moment that he decides to battle with Goliath. It came to symbolize the defense of civic liberties embodied in the Florentine Republic, an independent city state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici themselves. This interpretation was also encouraged by the original setting of the sculpture outside the Palazzo della Signoria, the seat of civic government in Florence. The completed sculpture was unveiled on 8 September 1504.
All I kept hearing about was David...David...David
But I wasn't ready for what awaited me around that corner.
It was...moving, amazing, brilliant, etc., etc.
It's so big...It's so life like. I just ..........
The Bible came to life for me that day. Not that it hadn't before. But if you grew up hearing the tale of David and Goliath then what awaits you is nothing that I could say, you just have to see it for yourself!
"David was commissioned in 1501 by the Cathedral Works Committee (Opera Del Duomo). At the age of 26, Michelangelo was given a leftover block of marble that came from the mountains of Carrara, one which had previously been worked on by various other artists. The piece was intended as a monumental work, a testimony to the city's republican pride, not one for close confinement, but was moved to the Accademia in 1873 (from outside the Palazzo Vecchio, where a replica now stands ) to protect it from the ravages of time and the weather.
Viewed as a gallery piece, David looks odd; his upper body and head are both out of proportion, and out of keeping with the Renaissance obsession with the perfect harmony of form and proportion. However, it's argued that this is yet more evidence of Michelangelo's bravura - not only is David an incredible feat of technical skill, the scale is deliberate, as from the original viewpoint of the viewer the upper body would have been much farther away.
The gallery is also home to another remarkable work by Michelangelo, the unfinished piece entitled 'Slaves', and there are large picture galleries as well as other works of sculpture to be seen; however, there can be no doubting the true crowd-pleaser, the world famous image of Florence, David. " [Taken from tickitaly.com]
From their website you can purchase tickets as well as see pictures of the actual statue.
Pictures/Cameras/Etc are NOT allowed in the gallery so don't even try! You are being watched! But great gift shop for all sorts of David souvenirs!!
Tuesday-Sunday: 8.15 - 18.50
Euro 6.50; booking (optional): Euro 3.00;
50% reduction for 18-25 year olds from the European Union and for regular state teachers.
Positive to be a long queue, David is on everybodys list, and even the least cultured person heard about David. Rest assured though, David's beauty is unparralleled in sculptures. Somehow kept in immaculate condition, as good as the sculptures chisel made the last finishing touch, the smoothness of the finish is amazing, and the form and curvatures is beautiful to see in the form of stone, or whatever its made out of. The portrait of man, in ideal form is awe-inspiring. So anyway, please circle David numerous times fixated on the unity of all the limbs and the roman head that sits on top.
One thing that surprised me is the size. overall david was not a dissappointment.
You can find this most famous of statues at the Galleria dell' Accadamia with a copy also at the Piazzale Michelangelo and a few others dotted around Florence. David is 13ft tall and carved out of a single block of white marble. David was commissioned in 1501 by the Cathedral Works Committee (Opera Del Duomo). From a show I saw on the History Channel Michelangelo was given a leftover block of marble that came from the mountains of Carrara which had previously been worked on by other artists. The block had been sitting around for quite some time and the previous chap didn't, in theory, 'have the skill' to do the work. Being so big it was an engineering marvel just getting the block off the mountain and into Michelangelo's work area!
David was moved to the Accademia in 1873 from outside the Palazzo Vecchio (where a replica now stands) to protect the original from the ravages of time and ruining David's milky complexion. I managed to get my photo while here in 2003.
To have a look at one of the David's go to the website below which has a 360 degree thingy at Signoria Square
Do not be fooled by the "fake" David! So many foolhardy tourists have been fooled by this vile imposter. Here are some fool proof tips to protect you from being...well...fooled.
1. The real David is housed within a building, the fake David, as seen in the picture is outdoors. The easiest way to determine the difference between the two is to look up. If you see the sky, start to cry, because its the fake David your looking at!
2. You are not allowed to take pictures of the real David, so one way to determine what's what, is to start randomly taking pictures of David. If you get tackled by a security guard and arrested then you will know for sure that you were looking at the real David.
3. This last tip is not as reliable as the others but when I was looking at the fake David, I noticed that there was a bird nesting on top of his head. This is how I was able to ascertain for sure that it was not the real David. Plus it was raining and I just referred to tip #1.
For some reason they do not want you to take pictures of David, I thought they were just saying it so people will buy more crap from their gift shop, however after taking a picture of David I was severely reprimanded in Italian by some lady and if you haven't ever been severely reprimanded by a tall, olive skinned, Italian beauty with dark, thick, lusterous hair, well your missing out! Anyway there were other things to check out but to be honest I was there for David, everything else was just stuffing. They have benches around David you can sit on and take in David from different angles, they also have a 3D computer program of David that is practically worth the price of admission. Speaking of admission, as I'm sure you have already been informed, buy your ticket in advance! I didn't have to wait more then ten minutes to get in! Best tip I can regurgitate for you!