To the right of San Lorenzo Square, built into a cloister of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, is the famous Laurentian Library.
If you and Robert have not visited there, you should.
(Dan Brown, Inferno)
The library contains valuable works collected by Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent. It was built under the patronage of Pope Clement VII, who in turn commissioned Michelangelo in 1524 to design the architecture.
Michelangelo led the construction of the library until 1534, at which time he went to Rome.
The work was subsequently carried out according to his instructions. The library is today considered one of the most valuable collections of ancient manuscripts in the world.
Its collection includes the first complete manuscript of the Latin Vulgate Bible (the Bible Amiatina), original manuscripts on the founding of the Florentine Renaissance, some ancient papyrus and the oldest manuscript of the Corpus Juris Civilis (issued by the emperor Justinian).
The manuscripts were stored on shelves fastened onto the back of benches and were made available to the public, albeit safeguarded by means of solid chains.
They were organized by subject, and wooden tablets were used as a table of contents. This arrangement was maintained until the early 1900s, at which point the books were moved into the current depository.
The beautiful library door was designed by Michelangelo and carried out by Tribolo.
The triple staircase, built from stone rather than wood at the request of Cosimo I, is located in the vestibule.
Considered the building’s masterpiece and an artistic achievement by its own right, the staircase was designed by Michelangelo and finished by Vasari in 1558 to solve architectural discrepancies that existed between the vestibule and the library hall.
The vestibule is a square space, occupied almost entirely by the staircase, with a height that exceeds conventional planning.
This environment was perhaps conceived as a prelude to the dark light of the reading room, but interpretations on this matter abound.
This theory might also account for why the niches, which appear to have been designed to accommodate sculptures, remained empty.
Finally, in addition to the works mentioned above, Michelangelo even designed the wooden stalls for reading the manuscript.
Today, the Laurentian Library functions as a public library and is owned by the Italian State. It is also a center of documentation and literature search of primary importance in the world.
Pictures by Wikimedia, Sormale/OAyuso and Awfulknitter