After the predecessor bridge made of wood was destroyed by a flood in 1333, the new bridge over the river Arno was built in 1345. At the beginning butchers and tanners occupied the shops on the bridge, to dispose their wastes directly into the river. Today you will find jewelers on the famous bridge. The "Ponte Vecchio" is the top attraction of Florence.
The construction of the cathedral started in 1296. In 1359 the 85 m high Campanile of Giotto was accomplished. In 1434 Brunelleschi's cathedral was completed. The facade of green and white marble was built 1887. The construction of the 90 m high dome was a groundbreaking development. With a diameter of 43 m it was the largest dome in the world until 1873. Florence wanted to demonstrate its power with the size of the cathedral. The result is one of the most beautiful churches in the world. In Italy only the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is even bigger.
The octagonal baptistery was consecrated in 1059 and built on a roman fundation. Giotto and Cimabue created the stunning mosaics on the ceiling between 1225 and 1275. The famous "Porta del Paradiso" Paradise Gate was built by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
The "Loggia di Mercato Nuovo" was established in the middle of the 16th century as a market for silk and other luxury goods. Famous is the Fontana del Porcellino, a boar made of bronze. It is said to bring good lucky, if you caress over the muzzle.
The Palazzo Vecchio was completed in 1314 and initially housed the Parliament of the Republic of Florence. The house was then called Palazzo della Signoria, the Signoria was the council of citizens established after power loss of imperial rule. As the uncertain balance of power led to constant warfare between the mighty families, the building looks like a fortress. The Palazzo Vecchio with its 94 m high tower, is now used again as town hall of Florence.
In front of the "Palazzo Vecchio" stands a copy of the statue "David" by Michelangelo. The original is the most famous sculpture of the High Renaissance and is located in the Accademia di Belle Arti. Michelangelo received the order for the statue in 1501, from the Guild of the weavers (Arte della Lana). The sculpture of the Goliath conqueror emerged in 1504 from a block of Carrara marble. The sculpture was brought to the museum for safety reasons in 1873.
The "Signoria" (city council) gave its name to the square. The town hall, the "Palazzo Vecchio", used to be the "Palazzo della Signoria" until the government moved to the Uffizi. On the square you will find the famous fountain "Fonte del Nettuno".
The "Loggia dei Lanzi" was built in 1382 and served as a podium for public rallies and receptions. Later on, soldiers (Lanzi) lived here, which gave the building its name. In the open arched hall are many famous sculptures, such as the Perseus with the head of the Medusa.
From the Duomo going north passing Via dei Servi you will come to the beautiful Piazza della Annunziata. On the arcaded piazza, stands the statue of Fernando I de Medici and the church "Santissima Annunziata".
An image of the "Annunziata" (announcement), begun by a monk and completed by an angel, made the church a famous place for pilgrims. In 1481 the church was enlarged according to the plans of Leon Battista Alberti. The facade is a work of Giovanni Battista Caccini from 1601.
The marble-paneled Franciscan Church is one of Florence's most important churches due to the many tombs of famous people. Here lies the philosopher Machiavelli, the astronomer Galileo Galilei and the artist and architect Michelangelo. Many wealthy citizens donated large sums of money for the construction of the church that was started in 1294. The beautiful facade of white and green marble was completed in 1863. Santa Croce is one of the top tourist attractions of Florence.
The noble family of the Medici has built a huge funerary chapel next to the church of San Lorenzo. The main hall is covered with sumptuous marble. The sacristy was designed by Michelangelo and houses very beautiful sculptures of the famous artist. The Medici Chapel (itl. Cappelle Medicee) is a demonstration of the wealth of this famous family of textile merchants.
The basilica was designed by Brunelleschi in 1419 and was completed in 1460. The façade of San Lorenzo ist still unfinished. The Medici-funded the church and Michelangelo designed the facade but the facade was not built. Don't miss the beautiful cloister.
The Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella is one of the most beautiful churches in Florence. The church, built between 1246 and 1470, with its filigree marble façade by Alberti, displays magnificent frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi in the interior.
The Piazza della Repubblica was built on the former Roman Forum, located at the intersection of Cardo (Via Roma) and Decumanus (Via del Corso). The square was built between 1814 and 1861, when Florence was the capital of Italy.
The wool merchant Luca Pitti commissioned in 1458 the famous architect Filippo Brunelleschi with the construction of his palace in the district of Oltrarno, south of the Arno. Brunelleschi had previously built the dome of the cathedral of Florence. After the death of Cosimo de Medici in 1465 Luca Pitti campaigned against his successor Piero de Medici, he lost and was disempowered. The Palazzo Pitti was not finished. The work was resumed in 1549 under the new owner Eleonora of Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de Medici under her direction the famous Boboli Gardens, on the hillside behind the Palazzo Pitti were built. The Palazzo Pitti is now used by several museums. »Museums of Florence.
The "Piazza Michelangelo" was built in 1865, when Florence became the capital of Italy. In 1870 Rome became the capital of Italy. But the only thing that matters on the "Piazza Michelangelo" is the view on the city and the green hills of Tuscany.
The Villa della Petraia is considered to be one of the most beautiful Medici villas in the vicinity of Florence. Originally owned by Brunelleschi, the estate was later the property of the Strozzi family. The Medici expropriated the Strozzi in 1532 and rebuilt the villa.
Welcome to Florence
Florence was one of the most powerful cities in Europe in the 15th century. The Medici made Florence a center of art and architecture. Almost all buildings in the historic old town date from this era. Many famous artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci also lived in Florence at that time. Michelangelo's "David" is even one of the landmarks of Florence. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most important museums in the world. If you want to admire the works of the Florentine School, you should order tickets before visiting.
Florence and Tuscany
With over 380,000 inhabitants, Florence is the largest and most famous city in Tuscany. The surrounding area offers many beautiful places and landscapes that are worth a visit. Don't miss Pisa, only around 70 km away. On the Piazza dei Miracoli there is a unique ensemble with the cathedral, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Baptistery.
Tuscany is also very scenic. In the vicinity of Florence there are very beautiful gardens of the Medici and the mountain village of Fiesole with an amphitheater. The posh seaside resort Forte dei Marmi is approx. 90 km away and the island of Elba round about 130 km to the south-west.