I would like to know the difference in the usage of the two words that translate "famous": известный and знаменитый. Can I use them interchangeably both for famous people and famous things (museums, cities, book, quotations...). For example, if I need to translate "Michelangelo was a famous sculptor" I'd better choose the first, the second, or it doesn't matter? I need this info as regards a written text, not an oral context.. thank you!
"Знаменитый" has a greater degree of fame than "известный".
"Знаменитый" is "famous, celebrated, illustrious, outstanding, superlative", "известный" is "well-known, known".
знаменитый артист – famous actor, celebrated actor
знаменитая книга учёного - famous book of the scientist
Нижний Новгород знаменит своей промышленной ярмаркой - Nizhny Novgorod is famous for its fair
известный художник — well-known painter
известный учёный — noted scientist
известный чем-либо — noted for something
он известен своей честностью — he is known for his honesty; he has a name for honesty
As for Michelangelo, he was definitely "знаменитый скульптор".