Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria, the beating heart of Florence

June 17, 2014

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence is one of the most famous civic buildings in our country and it’s also a great representation of the fourteenth century’s civil architecture. Over time it has gone by many names: it was initially called “Palazzo dei Priori” or “Palagio Novo”, then it became “Palazzo della Signoria” and also “Palazzo Ducale”, during the time it housed the main body of government of the Florentine Republic. Once the Duke’s court was moved to Palazzo Pitti, our building gained its present name of “Palazzo Vecchio”.

Designed to accommodate the Council of the Republic of Florence, the palace was later expanded, taking on the appearance of an austere fortress.

The marvelous halls and private apartments you can find inside Palazzo Vecchio and its museum are mostly a product of Renaissance architectural interventions. The majestic Salone dei Cinquecento is the most important one, both historically and artistically wise. It was built in 1494, it has a length of 54 meters, a width of 23 meters and a height of 18 meters. In addition to the coffered ceilings, it has impressive sculptures and paintings, including works by Michelangelo, Vasari and Baccio Bandinelli.
The Monumental Quarters include the Room of the Elements, the rooms of the Duchess and the private chapel frescoed by Agnolo Bronzino. Among the rooms of the XVI century, the Secret Passages (confidential passages of the Medici family) are definitely worth visiting, while the most interesting rooms on the second floor are the Sala dei Gigli and the Hall of Maps. The top of the building is occupied by the impressive Tower of Arnolfo. standing up to 95 meters tall.

Palazzo Vecchio overlooks Piazza della Signoria, which is Florence’s central square. It is an L-shaped square and it’s located in the heart of the old town centre. In addition to Palazzo Vecchio, other places of interest in here are: the Loggia della Signoria (originally built as a balcony to harangue the crowds and now converted into an open-air museum), the Court of Merchandise (dating back to 1359), the Uguccioni Palace (which was built starting from 1550) and Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali (built in 1871).

The Palazzo Vecchio museum is open every day except on Thursdays. The entrance ticket costs € 10 (reduced € 8); same goes for the climb to the tower. The joint visit to both the museum and the tower costs € 14 (reduced € 12). Access to the tower is not allowed to children under 6 years old.

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