Discover the city that was the cradle of the Italian Renaissance through the corridors that witnessed its history
Located in one of the main squares of the city, the Piazza della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio building is divided into a museum and the city hall. Built at the end of the 13th century by the authorities of Florence in order to ensure protection for the city’s magistrates and celebrate its importance, Palazzo Vecchio served as a residence for important personalities and governments in the city’s history. Currently, most of the palace is dedicated to the museum, which houses works by Agnolo Bronzino, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Giorgio Vasari and many others.
The first room we see when we go up the museum stairs already shows its grandeur and sets the tone for the rest of the visit. The imposing Salone dei Cinquecento, with a length of 54 meters and a width of 23, is one of the largest halls in Italy. Its walls are composed of large frescoes depicting Florence’s battles and military successes over Pisa and Siena. The ceiling, made with 39 panels, was built and painted by Vasari and represents the city’s neighborhoods and the city of Florence itself. Besides the frescoes, the hall also displays tapestries and sculptures of important personalities from the city’s history. During the period when Florence was capital of the Kingdom of Italy, between 1865 and 1871, the salon was also politically important since parliamentarians used to meet in this hall.
At the end of the hall, an amazing small windowless side room was created. This masterpiece, the Studiolo of Francisco I de’ Medici, one of the many residents of the palace over the years, was also designed by Vasari. The walls and vaults are completely covered with delicate paintings and bronze sculptures.
Full of Quartieri monumentali (Monumental Apartments) of the Florence personalities who made this palace their residence, one of the most striking is the Quartiere degli Elementi (Apartment of the Elements). Besides one of the rooms in this set having its walls filled with allegorical frescoes of the elements Water, Earth, Fire and Air; there are also other rooms that tell the stories of various gods of Roman mythology through paintings.
Best of Florence City Center Private Tour
Experience the best of Florence on this private guided tour of the city center. You’ll skip the line at the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David before taking in the highlights of the city center from the Cathedral Square to the medieval district, Signoria Square and Ponte Vecchio.
On the second floor, on the opposite side of the stairs from the Quartiere degli Elementi, we walk through Quartiere di Eleonora (Leonor’s Apartment) —wife of Cosimo I, from the Medici family, who lived in the palace. Besides the rooms very well decorated with amazing landscapes and paintings on the ceiling, visitors can also see the Cappella di Eleonora (Chapel of Leonor), entirely covered in frescoes with the history of Moses. In addition to Leonor’s life, other famous ladies were honored by the halls of the palace, which show the feminine strength and delicacy of the time.
One of the most beautiful rooms in the palace, called Sala dei Gigli, is covered from walls to ceiling with admirable lilies. In addition to frescoes referring to the patron saint of Florence and the city itself, the room contains one of Donatello’s masterpieces: Judith and Holofernes. From this salon, a door leads the visitors to a room with a gigantic globe surrounded by cabinets decorated with 53 scientific world maps, demonstrating the geographic knowledge of the 16th century and having a remarkable historical interest.
In addition to containing several other works on display that tell the story of this city so important to Italy and the world, the external area of the palace is a gallery of its own. Divided into three courtyards, the first is accessed through the main gate of Piazza della Signoria. With magnificently carved columns, paintings and a vault enriched with decorations, the visit is already worth it at the entrance.
Palazzo Vecchio is the representation of the history of Florence itself. This building witnessed from important politicians to magnificent artists, who have marked their names in the history of the city and the country. To visit the palace is to visit the essence of Florence, and it is a stop that no one who appreciates art and history will regret.
Museo di Palazzo Vecchio
Piazza della Signoria
Mon – Sun: 9am – 7pm
Thu: 9am – 2pm
€12,50 – €10