Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze (or the Accademia Gallery) is a top tourist attraction in Florence that contains many spectacular pieces of art. The Accademia Gallery in Florence was founded in 1563 by Cosimo de’ Medici as the first drawing academy in Europe.
Originally, the Academy met at the Church of the Santissima Annunziata and moved around until 1784 when the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, determined that the disparate schools of drawing should be brought together under one roof. Thus, the Accademia Gallery was moved to its present location at 60 Via Ricasoli. The present location of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno is the Palazzo dell’Arte dei Beccai. There is also a music conservatory and scool of art restoration affiliated with the Accademia. If you are planning to visit the museum, especially in the peak tourist months of April through October, it is highly advisable to make Accademia Gallery reservations in advance of your actual trip, to avoid massive lines and hours of waiting.
Although the Accademia Gallery in Florence contains many priceless works of art, the most renowned and famous in the sculpture of David by Michelangelo. This extraordinary sculpture has been housed in this gallery since 1873, after having been removed from the Piazza della Signoria. Although conservation and protection from the elements were chief considerations in the decision to move the massive and precious sculpture, there were also plans to create a whole museum dedicated to the life and work of Michelangelo Buonarroti.
Today, when you enter the Accademia Gallery in Florence, you will walk through a long hallway that is filled with Michelangelo's work, including The Slave and Four Prisoners and the sculpture of Saint Matthew. And although these pieces of art are awe-inspiring to say the least, you have not seen anything until you gaze upon the statue of David. Michelangelo was only 25 years old when he began sculpting this marvelous work of art from a blemished block of marble in 1501. Fellow artists who were members of the Accademia Gallery in Florence, including Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci, were instantly aware of the genius of the work and were struck by how difficult and skillful a task it was to create such a masterpiece from a block of marble that virtually no one else would touch. Even if you make advance Accademia Gallery reservations, you can still plan on waiting in line to see the statue of David. Accademia Gallery reservations only allow you to get through the line at the door faster. It is well worth the wait to see this amazing sculpture.
There is also a wonderful collection of Renaissance pieces contained within the Accademia by the likes of Sandro Botticelli, Paolo Uccelo, and Domenico Ghirlandaio. There are also a number of impressive, early Florentine Gothic paintings, as well as a wide range of Russian icons collected by Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who was a member of the House of Lorraine.
In a city with myriad alluring attractions, the Accademia Gallery is one of the most popular and highly sought after. If you are planning a trip to Florence, be sure to stop by to see the Michelangelo display and the other amazing pieces of art. It costs under 10 Euros to get in and is open from 8:15 a.m. to 6:50 p.m.
Top image: Andy Hay (flickr)