The image of Michelangelo’s David statue (Il Davide di Michelangelo), one of the world’s best-known works of art, is so ubiquitous in Florence that it has become a symbol of Italy’s Renaissance capital. Carved between 1501 and 1504 and installed at the custom-built Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia) in 1873, the masterpiece also symbolizes strength and human beauty.
Michelangelo’s statue of David is one of the most popular sights in Florence—if not the entire art world—and there are always long lines to enter the Accademia Gallery (Galleria dell’Accademia) in high season. To avoid waiting for hours under the hot Florentine sun, it is essential either to book skip-the-line tickets in advance or to join a guided tour that includes gallery entrance tickets along with an explanation of this important masterpiece. Once you’re inside, admire the four unfinished statues by Michelangelo, known as the Slaves or Prisoners, lining the hall leading to the rotunda under which David holds court. Many Florence city tours include visits to the Uffizi Gallery, Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore), and Accademia Gallery accompanied by an experienced tour guide, and small-group tours of the city center hit must-sees like Ponte Vecchio as well.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Experiencing David is an absolute must for art lovers, Renaissance fans, and pretty much all first-time visitors to Florence.
- Luggage, large bags, and backpacks are not allowed inside the gallery, and there is no coat or baggage check.
- The gallery is entirely accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Galleria dell’Accademia is located in the heart of Florence, an easy walk from the Santa Maria Novella train station, Duomo, and Piazza della Signoria.
When to Get There
Florence’s Accademia Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:15am to 6:50pm; final entry is at 6:20pm. The gallery is closed on Mondays, January 1, May 1, and December 25. The gallery is most crowded from late morning through the afternoon, so consider reserving a private tour with exclusive early morning access to enjoy the famous statue before the throngs of daily visitors arrive.
The statue of David has a fascinating history, and did not seem initially destined for greatness. The block of marble Michelangelo was given to work with was flawed and had already been partly carved by his predecessor. Nonetheless he carved David to adorn the Duomo, but the finished statue was too heavy to hoist onto the cathedral and was placed instead at the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria. Not long after the statue was unveiled here, rioters at an anti-Medici rebellion threw a chair out of a window directly onto David's arm, which broke in three places. In 1873, David was moved to the safety of the Accademia Gallery, and a replica—one of many—now marks the spot where the original once stood.