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From now on there are two additional good reasons to visit the National Archaeological Museum in Florence: the new display of the antique gemstones collection has just been inaugurated, located in the historical corridor of Maria Maddalena de' Medici.


MAF-Gemme 01

The building where the National Archaeological Museum of Florence is housed has a history worth recounting: the project of the so-called Palazzo della Crocetta, built in 1620, was designed by the architect Giulio Parigi, who was chosen for the completion of this work by Grand Duke Cosimo II de' Medici.

This Medici residence was meant for the Grand Duke's sister, Princess Maria Maddalena who, born with a disability that left her with reduced mobility, was condemned to take the vows and live out of sight.
This doesn't mean that she stopped being part of the Medici family and, to let her have a life that lived up to her social class, her brother had a majestic palace built next to the Crocetta Monastery, with a raised passageway that linked it directly to the inside of the Santissima Annunziata church, in the adjoining square.
Through this passage Maria Maddalena and her following were able to look through the inside of the church and attend Mass without being seen.

Now the Maria Maddalena de' Medici passage is accessible again and houses a selection of the gemstones that belonged to the Medici and Lorraine families, the biggest and most important collection of gemstones in the world; in total 2300 among cameos, engravings, antique seals, vitreous pastes, rings in their original Renaissance or Roman settings made with sapphires, garnets, chalcedony, sard, carnelians, in fact the most precious stones used in ancient times.

Thanks to the new display 432 magnificent specimens of the gemstones collection are back in all their splendour, demonstrating the passion for collecting of the Medicis; starting with the first group, made of the gemstones that belonged to Lorenzo il Magnifico, then continuing with the Grand Duke Cosimo I and his wife Eleanor of Toledo, Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici, down to the last member of the family Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici and, finally, Pietro Leopoldo Asburgo-Lorena.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published: 19/12/2018

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