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Palazzo Vecchio

The city’s magnificent town hall was first built in 1299, and has seen many different names and uses over its history.

TravelCurious Tip

On rain-free days you can take the 418 steps up to the top to the Torre d’Arnolfo and enjoy spectacular views of the city

Found in the Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio is a formidable fortress palace, capped by an unmistakeable, 94 metre crenellated tower. Designed by Arnolfo di Cambio for the city government, to this day it remains home to the mayor’s office and the municipal council.


The Republican Ideal

The inscription over the palace’s main door reads “Christ is the king” and served as a reminder that no mortal could hold absolute power. At the time the palace was built, nine consuls would be picked at random from members of the guild, and they would live in it. Every two months nine new names would be drawn, so no one ever had a chance to get comfy.


Revamp

Things began to change in the 16th century when Cosimo I de’ Medici turned the Palazzo into one of the most luxurious ducal residences of the time. Michaelangelo’s sculpture Genio della Vittoria can be found inside in the Salone dei Cinquecento, a painted hall that was created for the council of 500 who ruled the city in the 15th century. This hall was commissioned in 1540 by Cosimo I, who tasked Vasari and his apprentices to glorify his victories for Florence over Pisa and Siena. He also requested that he be portrayed in god-like fashion in the centre of the panelled ceiling.


Also inside the palace is the Chapel of SS Cosmas and Damian, as well as the Sala di Leo X — which was home to Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici, before he became pope in 1513. Upstairs you can see the Camera Verde, the ceiling of which was inspired by that of Nero’s Domus Aurea in Rome, and the Sala dei Gigli, which is home to Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes.


Map to the Stars

When he wasn’t glorifying himself through paintings, Cosimo I was an avid map collector. In the Sala delle Carte Geografiche you can see his collection of 16th century maps and get an idea of the scope of the known world at the time, from pole to pole.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Florence
Piazza del Duomo
Florence's 'Cathedral Square' is in the historic heart of the city and home to several of its most famous landmarks.
Loggia dei Lanzi
Beloved since the 14th century for its superb arches, the Loggia is today an open-air museum of Renaissance sculpture.
Piazza della Signoria
Overlooked by the imposing Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi, this square is one of the city’s focal points.
Ponte Vecchio
The 'Old Bridge' over the river Arno is famous for its traditional jewellery shops and art dealers.
Uffizi Gallery
A magnificent 16th century building housing one of the world's foremost collections of Primitive and Renaissance art.
Dante's Quarter
Italy’s most celebrated poet and a giant of world literature, the author of the Divine Comedy was a native Florentine.

Related Tours

Private Walking Tour -Culture & Architecture inc Santa Maria Del Fiore Tickets
This 6-hour walking tour is perfect for art enthusiasts and culture vultures, giving you the knowledge and time to explore Florence with a local, professional expert. . 

  • Commence your tour at the Piazza del Duomo
  • Explore the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistry of St John
  • Walk past the unique Duomo
  • Visit the antique Florentine Quarter
  • Pay a visit to Piazza della Signoria, passing the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi
  • Pass by the much celebrated Uffizi Gallery, home to an impressive collection of Renaissance art
  • Cross over the Ponte Vecchio, towards Palazzo Pitti
  • Enjoy a short stop at the Church of Santo Spirito
  • Conclude at the Quarter of Santa Croce
You will begin this fabulous walking tour of Florence by visiting the Piazza del Duomo where you will explore the superb Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistry of St John. You will venture inside the unique Duomo- famous for Brunelleschi’s Dome, which took 140 years to complete. Look out for the octagonal Baptistry, built over 70 years and named after the Saint Protector of Florence- San Giovanni. 

Antique Florentine Quarter

Your next stop will be to the antique Florentine Quarter where the talented Dante Alighieri used to live. You will pay a visit to Piazza della Signoria, where you may find yourself captivated by the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi. Originally the seat of power for the ruling elite of the Republic of Florence, the Palazzo Vecchio is now the town hall and a symbol of the Tuscan capital. Builtin the 14th century, the charming Loggia dei Lanzi is a masterpiece of Florentine Renaissance architecture and now hosts remarkable Renaissance sculptures.

A short walk on and you will also pass the celebrated Uffizi Gallery, home to some wonderful creations by the Italian Renaissance greats of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and many others. The world-famous medieval bridge Ponte Vecchio is well worth a visit with its many quaint craft shops selling small souvenirs, lovely jewellery and beautiful paintings. 

Renaissance Florence 

After crossing the Ponte Vecchio you will have the opportunity to stroll by the 15th century Palazzo Pitti, which always hosts several museums and rotating exhibitions.  Its sublime Boboli Gardens are some of the grandest open-air museums Italy has to offer, boasting wonderful sculptures, picturesque fountains and magical grottos.

Your tour also includes a quick visit to the Church of Santo Spirito. Initially drafted by the immensely talented Brunelleschi; it was finally completed years after his death in the late 15th century. You will complete your journey with a short stroll around the Quarter of Santa Croce, which takes its name from the scenic church of Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world.
Private Walking Tour of Michelangelo’s Florence inc Tickets to Galleria dell’ Accademia
This full-day tour of Florence's Renaissance artwork and architecture is a must for all culture vultures. 

  • Commence your tour at the Piazza del Duomo 
  • Pass the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistery of St John
  • Walk towards the antique Florentine Quarter 
  • Learn about Italy's political elite at the Palazzo Vecchio 
  • Pass the Uffizi Gallery, and cross over the Ponte Vecchio (medieval bridge)
  • Conclude your tour at the Galleria dell’ Accademia 
  • Learn about Renaissance artwork, and skip-the-line to see Michelangelo’s David
Discover the highlights of Florence and follow an expert and entertaining guide to the most significant places through the historical center and learn about the amazing history of the city from the time it was the capital of Renaissance to the time it became the capital of early unified Italy.

Start your experience touring the religious center of the city: admire the Duomo, whose impressive Dome was designed by Brunelleschi, and the Baptistery of Saint John, one of the oldest buildings in Florence.

From the religious center, you will walk to the political center, and enjoy a pleasant stroll through Piazza della Signoria, surrounded by its ancient buildings and the Loggia dei Lanzi. In this open air museum we will see original masterpieces by Giambologna and Cellini. From there, you'll cross the famous Ponte Vecchio, the medieval bridge on the Arno River, we will end this tour in the prestigious Accademia Gallery, where, at your own pace, we will explore stunning artwork, including Michelangelo's David.
The Beauty and Craft of Florence - Private Walking Tour inc Tickets
Explore the finest Renaissance architecture and experience authentic Italian leather on this 3-hour craft tour.

  • Commence your tour at the antique Florentine Quarter 
  • Explore Santa Maria Del Fiore
  • Pass by the much-celebrated Uffizi Gallery, home to much Renaissance art
  • Cross over the Ponte Vecchio, towards Palazzo Pitti
  • Enjoy a short stop at the Church of Santo Spirito
  • Visit the incredible Leather School of Florence 
  • Conclude at Mannina, a family-owned Florentine cobbler 
Antique Florentine Quarter
What better place to start than the antique Florentine Quarter where the talented Dante Alighieri used to live? You will pay a visit to Piazza Della Signoria, where you can not help but be captivated by the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia Dei Lanzi. Originally the seat of power for the ruling elite of the Republic of Florence, the Palazzo Vecchio is now the town hall and a symbol of the Tuscan capital. Built back in the 14th century, the charming Loggia dei Lanzi is a masterpiece of Florentine Renaissance architecture and now hosts remarkable Renaissance sculptures.

A short walk on and you will also pass the celebrated Uffizi Gallery, home to some wonderful creations by the Italian Renaissance greats of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and many others. The world-famous medieval bridge Ponte Vecchio is well worth a visit with its many quaint craft shops selling small souvenirs, lovely jewellery, and beautiful paintings. 

Renaissance Florence 

Your tour also includes a quick visit to the Church of Santo Spirito. Initially drafted by the immensely talented Brunelleschi; it was finally completed years after his death in the late 15th century. You will complete your journey with a short stroll around the Quarter of Santa Croce, taking its name from the scenic church of Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world.

Authentic Italian Craft

Visit the Leather School of Florence which was created after World War II by Franciscan friars of the Monastery of Santa Croce with the mission of teaching orphans of the war a practical trade with which to earn a living. You will also have the opportunity to visit Mannina, a family-owned Florentine cobbler that are still using traditional shoemaking techniques. 
Private Walking Tour of Florence By Night
The soft, golden sunset over Tuscan hills bathes Florence in an ethereal blush-shade halo, and the changing colors of the sky add an otherworldly beauty to the city.  On your Private Walking Tour of Florence by Night: 
 
  • See the Florentine skyline from a fresh perspective, lit by starlight and flickering lamps.
  • Admire the ecclesiastical splendour of the Baptistery of St. John and Florence Cathedral.
  • Soak up the magical twilight ambience gazing at the Palazzo Vecchio’s impressive Arnolfo Tower.
  • Watch the slow-moving silvery Arno River under a night sky from the Ponte Vecchio.
  • Sightsee illuminated historical buildings such as Casa Buonarroti and the Uffizi Gallery.  
  • Stroll a riddle of lamp-lit back streets to see Torre della Castagna - one of the city's ancient towers lit against the dark of night. 
On your Private Tour of Florence By Night, soak up the night's eye view of the city, from Florence’s riddle of beguiling back streets and hear the mysterious stories to the candle-lit mellow sounds of a Gregorian chant. At night the ecclesiastical splendour of octagonal Baptistery of St. John is magnificent, a quality shared by the illuminated gothic spires of Florence Cathedral and the Campanile di Giotto on the spectacular Piazza del Duomo. Soaring high above surrounding buildings in the city,  Arnolfo Tower gazes across centuries of history dating back to medieval times from the legacy of the illustrious Medici family to the famed artistic works by the world’s great masters, many of which celebrate the hues of sunset.Monuments city-wide, churches and Florence’s most striking facades are beautifully lit at twilight, providing a stark contrast to monochromatic pavements.  A diffused orange glow of street lamps brings fresh identity to the city, showcasing centuries-old palaces and neatly-paved plazas with extra magic - even Michelangelo's statue David in Piazza della Signoria shines after dark. 

 As the sky begins to darken, a play of moonlight bathes the Arno River in a white-silver glow. Framed by a silhouette of trees Florence’s rows of illuminated buildings dazzle under a sky of twinkling stars.  Pause on the Ponte Vecchio, the city’s oldest bridge, to watch as shimmering reflections cast their shadows, and wander onward to the handsome gilt and stucco of the Uffizi Gallery - illuminated in the otherwise still neighbourhood. Then see Florence’s predominant Franciscan church Chiesa Santa Croce, one of the largest in the world. Lastly,  stroll past Casa Buonarroti, once Michelangelo’s home and now a museum in his honour, opposite 13th century Torre della Castagna.  
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