Florence Travel Guide

Palazzo Vecchio

Built in 1294 it is characterized by the powerful thrust of the Tower of 1310 which rises from the Gallery.

It is the main architectural monument of Florence and one of the most significant mediaeval public palaces in Italy. It rises up, majestic and severe in its power, with its 94m high tower which is thrown straight up from the facade giving a particular character of elegance to the whole building.

According to the tradition it was built by the great Arnolfo di Cambio between 1298 and 1314, using the castle of the Counrs Guidi di Poppi as a model, but this attribution has not been confirmed yet by any written document. The original construction, as a great parallelepiped in rough rustic work with very beautiful Gothic two lighted windows on two floors and crowned by a great parapet walk with esparto battlement. In the front, the tower that goes by the name of Arnolfo rises up on a rectangular design.

Palazzo Vecchio: Interior

The courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio was designed by Michelozzo between 1439 and 1454. When Francesco de' Medici married Joan of Austria in 1565, Vasari decorated the courtyard with frescoes depicting scenes of Austrian cities in honour of the bride. At the same time the columns were adorned with gilt stuccoes. The porphyry basin in the centre of the courtyard is by Battista del Tadda. In 1476 Verrocchio's «Boy with a Fish » was placed above the basin: now substituted by a copy, the original is in another part of the building.

Salone dei Cinquecento

Designed by Simone del Pollaiolo, called Il Cronaca, as the seat of the Consiglio Maggiore, Florence's governing body which was set up in 1494 on the Venetian model. Vasari painted the hall's frescoes between 1555 and 1572 while remodelling the building to make it the residence of the Medici family, who had become Grand Dukes of Florence with the accession of Cosimo I. The ceiling is divided into 39 panels. The central panel depicts the triumph of Cosimo I, others show the quarters of the city, the city itself, the various offices of the Medici, and scenes of battles for the conquest of Pisa and Siena. The long walls were to have been painted with frescoes by Michelangelo and Leonardo, though the latter did not more than the preliminary sketches.

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