Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy - the 13th century "Old Palace"
Location show on map
Piazza Signoria, Florence, Italy
Date of build
Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria, next to the Uffizi Gallery, is one of the most beautiful palaces in Italy.
The design of the building was done by Arnolfo di Cambio, and construction began in 1299. The original structure was built between 1299 and 1313 and became the residence of the Medici family, who ruled Florence and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
The present building was erected on the site of the demolished "Palazzo dei Fanti" and "Palazzo dell'Esecutore di Giustizia", once owned by the Uberti family. The family was considered to be connected to Rome at the time and according to the 14th century "Nuova Cronica", the palace was built to ensure that the Uberti family houses would never be rebuilt on the same site.
In 1310, a 94-foot tower with a terrace was added to the structure. From 1343 to 1592, the original design of the palace was altered and completed. During this period, Duke Cosimo I had the building doubled in size. When he moved into the building with his family, the palace lost its importance. Only in 1872 it returned to its original role and became the seat of the City Council.
The palace was built on a quadrangular plan and consists of three separate parts built in three different periods.
The largest of the rooms, the Hall of the Five Hundred Years (52 × 23 meters) was added in the late 1400s and then modified by the famous architect Giorgio Vasari in 1565. New Quarters were added in the early 1540s.
Palazzo Vecchio is a three-story building with dentil finials and semicircular windows. It contains two rows of two-light Gothic windows, each ending in a trefoil arch.
The tower of the building is not exactly in the center of the building, this is due to the fact that the architect included in the design of the new tower the old tower that still stood on this site. The old tower belonged to the Foraboschi family and was called "La Vacca" ("The Cow"), while the new one is called "Torre d'Arnolfo", in honor of its architect.
The tower has three bells, and the oldest was cast in the 13th century. It is interesting to note that the clock in the tower has a mechanism that dates back to 1667.
In the tower are 2 cells where the infamous prisoners Cosimo de' Medici and Girolamo Savonarola resided.
In front, under the arcades, one can see frescoes with the nine coats of arms of the municipalities. On either side of the entrance to the palace are marble sculptures.
In 1501-1504, Michelangelo sculpted one of the most famous statues in history called "David". This statue was supposed to adorn the roof of Florence Cathedral, but it was deemed too heavy to be raised to the necessary height. Eventually the statue was placed just outside the front door of Palazzo Vecchio, next to Hercules and Cacus. It stood there from 1504 until it was moved to the art museum, the Accademia Gallery in Florence in 1883. In 1910, a replica of the statue was placed where the original stood.
In the courtyard of the palace hangs a plaque commemorating the 1786 resolution, which was the first in Europe to outlaw capital punishment and torture.
Although most of Palazzo Vecchio is now used as a museum, it remains a symbol of local government. It houses the office of the mayor of Florence and is the seat of the city council.
The Palazzo Vecchio is a symbol of local government.