The Marble of Michelangelo's Dreams

High in the Apuan Alps of Tuscany sits Monte Altissimo, a 5,213-foot (1,589-meter) mountain, climbed in 1517 by the Italian artist Michelangelo in pursuit of fine marble for his sculptures. There, according to Reuters, he “found the marble of his dreams. It was, the Renaissance master wrote, ‘of compact grain, homogeneous, crystalline, reminiscent of sugar.’” After receiving the blessing of Pope Leo X, Michelangelo worked for years to open a functional quarry, but was unsuccessful, and the project faltered. Today, five quarries operate on the mountain, using heavy machinery and modern techniques to carve up the hillside and extract the prized marble.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Chan Srithaweeporn / Getty

    Photos: The Moods of Monument Valley

    A collection of images of some of the many moods of this iconic valley, from wild storms to dusky evenings to bright, sunlit panoramas

  • Vincent Yu / AP

    Photos: Hong Kong Protesters Return to the Streets

    Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens filled the city’s streets for a second weekend of protest against a controversial extradition bill.

  • Romeo Gacad / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Mammoth Swing, Stanley Cup, Frog Wedding

    Art Basel displays in Switzerland, a volcanic eruption in North Sumatra, massive protests in Hong Kong, the L.A. Pride Festival in California, jackaroo and jillaroo school in Australia, and much more

  • Marmittes / Shutterstock

    The Cold War Bunkers of Albania

    The paranoid worldview of Enver Hoxha, the leader of Albania during the Cold War, led to a massive “bunkerization” project that resulted in the building of nearly 175,000 concrete bunkers across the country.