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

  • Marcelo Hernandez / Getty

    The Lasers of Discontent

    Images from unrest in Chile, Hong Kong, and Iraq over the past few months, where demonstrators are using laser pointers as tools of defiance.

  • Ng Han Guan / AP

    Riot Police Lay Siege to Hong Kong University Occupied by Protesters

    Some of the most violent clashes so far of the five-month-old pro-democracy protest movement in Hong Kong took place this past weekend, as riot police stormed the campus of a university where protesters had barricaded themselves.

  • Ivan Alvarado / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Prehistoric Tongue, First Snow, Panda Scan

    Autumn colors in Belgium; chess-boxing in Paris; dinosaurs in India; bushfires in Australia; impeachment hearings in Washington, D.C.; Santa Claus in Germany; tennis in London, and much more

  • NASA

    The Flight of Apollo 12: Photos From 50 Years Ago

    A look back at the second mission to land humans on the moon, which blasted off on November 14, 1969.