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Cortile di Michelozzo

The Column Courtyard, or Michelozzo Courtyard

The Column Courtyard was designed by architect Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, who also planned the entire building upon commission of Cosimo the Elder. It is the pulsing heart of the palace and stands out for its linear and balanced architecture: the ground-floor is bordered on each side by five-arch arcades above which stands a high frieze with sgraffito decorations; at the centre of the top course crowning each arcade is the impressive Medici coat of arms, sided by large-scale replicas of eight ancient cameos created by artists of Donatello’s workshop.
In the courtyard, visitors can admire the statue that depicts Orpheus Enchanting Cerberus with His Music, commissioned in 1519 to sculptor Baccio Bandinelli: a hallmark of harmony and pleasing balance.

The Riccardi family further embellished this courtyard in the 18th century, turning it into a sort of museum of antiquities by adding ancient busts and fragments of sculptural reliefs, urns, sarcophagi, and inscriptions inside eight imposing Baroque frames against the walls, above the doors, and displayed on shelves or on the uppermost parts of the columns.

Ground floor Courtyard of Michelozzo