Michelangelo’s Moses, an essential visit in Rome

Rome is a city where you can see and breathe culture in every corner. And such is its wealth that there are wonderful treasures that are sometimes overlooked when visiting the city. One of the artistic jewels that must be admired, yes or yes, is the Moses by Michelangelo.

The Moses it is a wonderful sculptural work of white marble. A work that was commissioned from the artist in 1505. He would begin it in the year 1513, but he would not finish it until two years later.

Undoubtedly, is one of the masterful and most revered works of the artist. And you have to see it up close, because only then is when you can appreciate all the small carved details, as well as the harmony between its parts.

The Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli

San Pietro in Vincoli

The Moses Michelangelo’s stands in the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli, in the Monti neighborhood. This neighborhood is one of the most valued areas of the city, where the Via Carvour crosses, which is part of the imperial moats. So that you can situate yourself a little better, we will tell you that it is very close to the Colosseum.


Its origin must be sought in the 5th century, when Empress Eudoxia gave Pope Leo I one of the chains from the captivity of Saint Peter in Jerusalem.

After that, Leo I ordered the construction of a temple to venerate and protect the chains of Saint Peter. But the funny thing is that, according to legend, when a second string was compared to this one, the two miraculously joined. And so they remain ever since in a reliquary under the main altar.

A church that will surely surprise you with its simplicity, nothing to do with many others that you will see in Rome. It has undergone countless renovations throughout its history. Thus, its main façade, for example, dates from the 16th century. While the interior was modified in the eighteenth century.

The Moses by Michelangelo

face detail

The Moses it is part of a funeral monument that Julius II commissioned from Buonarroti. It is a spectacular work of which it has been said that more than a statue it looks like a relief painting. In fact, Giorgio Vasari himself stated that “more than a chisel job, it looks like a brush job”.

Any little corner is carved to perfection. The genius took care of even the smallest detail, even you can see the expression in the look of the character, which transmits an amazing force. Something that, if it is already very difficult to achieve in painting, not to mention how much it costs in a sculpture.

The figure represents Moses seated with the Tablets of the Law in one arm, while with the other he caresses his beard. A figure that conveys all the tension of the biblical character when he contemplated how his people had fallen into idolatry.

Curiosities about the Moses by Michelangelo

“Moses” by Michelangelo

As we anticipated, the Moses it was intended to be part of an imposing mausoleum for Pope Julius II. However, the construction of the Vatican was such an attractive work for that pontiff that he practically forgot about this work of art.

One of the curiosities is that Moses has two small horns on his head. It is something that everyone notices and that seems to have its origin in a translation error.

In the fourth century Saint Jerome translated the Bible into Latin. In the passage explaining Moses’ descent from Mount Sinai he translated the word “karan” as horns instead of flashes. Both words had the same root. Therefore, Michelangelo did nothing more than represent Moses as the Bible said.

And another of the curiosities of this Michelangelo sculpture is due precisely to its tremendous realism. It is said that after finishing it, the artist hit her and yelled: “Speak”. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but when you find yourself in front of her, you’ll realize that it almost seems possible that she could.

If you are planning a trip to Rome, Be sure to visit this magnificent work of art. It is worth admiring one of the most spectacular works of Michelangelo. He will leave you speechless.

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