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Palazzo Vecchio - the symbol of the Medici

Palazzo Vecchio FlorenceDesigned in 1298-99 by Arnolfo di Cambio as the seat of the Republic Government, in just three years the main body of the building  was completed, but work was prolonged until 1315. It was first called Palazzo dei Priori because it was used by the representatives of the Gonfalonier of Justice and the priors of the Guilds. At that time an enormous bell at the top of the tower called the citizens to gather or to warn them of danger. The building continued to maintain its political importance even under the Medici rule when the building took the name of Palazzo della Signoria. Duke Cosimo I lived here from 1540 to 1565, but when the Medici moved to their new residence in Palazzo Pitti, it took the name of Palazzo Vecchio. From 1865 to 1871, when Florence was the capital of Italy, the building was the seat of Italian Parliament. Today it is the Town Hall. The exterior is a classic example of 14th-century civil architecture.

 

The building is basically a cube with three levels divided by thin cornices and covered with rustic ashlar work. At the top of the building, on the third level, is the jutting, overhanging balcony intended as a form of defence. From its walkways, one covered and one open, the piazza and the surrounding area could be kept under close observation.Under the arches which support the structure are painted, and repeated three times, the nine coat-of-arms of the Florentine Republic: of the Captain of the People, of the city of Gulephs, of Florence and Fiesole, of the Papacy, of the Seigniority Guelph, of the city of Ghibellines, of Charles and Robert of Anjou, of Ludovic of Anjou and of the Kinf of Hungary. The tower 94 metres high, rises from the side of the building which faces the square; at the top is the famous medieval bell. The present day layout and the richness of the interior, equal to that of any European court, is due to Cosimo I who, when he moved here, commissioned the renovation work to his trusted architect Giorgio Vasari who doubled its original size.



 

Photogallery Firenze

Palazzo Vecchio tour: the itinerary

For more than seven centuries, the Palazzo Vecchio (the Old Palace) has been the recognizable symbol of the political life in Florence. The guided visit includes the spectacular Salone dei Cinquecento designed by Giorgio Vasari for the Grand Duke Cosimo I, the rooms dedicated to the Medici Popes Leo X, the famous room of the Elements, the apartment of Eleonora, and the numerous areas decorated by the masterpieces of celebrated artists of the Renaissance such as Michelangelo, Donatello, and Verrocchio.

 
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