Palazzo Vecchio, the impressive town hall of Florence had been an important public building since the medieval ages and without doubt is a must see place in your Florence tour itinerary. Built in between the thirteenth and fourteenth century, this old façade has been the seat of administration of the city of Florence, a mute testimony of the time when Florence enjoyed the privilege of being one of the most powerful city states in the whole of Europe and an epicenter of the Italian Renaissance. It was originally known as Palazzo Della Signoria, the seat of Signoria, the ruling body the republic of Florence and has been variously named to indicate its role in the long history of Florence. Palazzo Vecchio literally means the old palace and it acquired its name when the ruling Medici family left the palace and move across Arno to Palazzo Pitti.
Presently, Palazzo Vecchio houses a museum with impressive artworks from the masters of the renaissance period and it is an inevitable part for your long cherished Italy tour that showcases the golden period of European history that witnessed an emergence from the dark medieval period to the time of revival in art, architecture, science and what not. So if you are planning a tour in Italy, include this public building in your itinerary and experience the prowess and grandeur of the erstwhile Florence.
It is a long list of historical anecdotes that is required to justify the grandeur of Palazzo Vecchio, one of the top heritage attractions of Florence. The battle of Montaperti in 1260, a decisive moment in the history of Florence, witnessed the victory of the Ghibellines, those who supported the Holy Roman Emperor over the Guelphs, the supporters of Pope. The uberti family led the Ghibelines and destroyed many buildings in Florence thereby reducing them into rubbles. Later when Guelph’s recovered control, they destroyed the palaces of the Uberti clan and permanently exiled them from the city. Finally, the Florentines took control over the ruins , bought up surrounding homes and towers, and built Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio on the ruins of the Palazzo dei Fanti and the Palazzo dell’Esecutore di Giustizia (Executor of Justice). They started building the present façade in the year 1299 A.D and dedicated it as the seat of Priori the ruling body of the republic of Florence. Therefore the palace was originally built on the ruins of the properties that belonged to Uberti clan and it was ordained that the accursed clan will be erased forever from the memory of Florence.
In 1540 A.D Duke Cosimo l de’ Medicine moved his official seat from Medici Palazzo to the Palazzo della Signoria and later when the Medici family moved to Palazzo Pitti across Arno the building acquired its name which means “the old palace”. Since then it has been used as a public building and in the nineteenth century when Italy united the small province to form a nation, this building became the seat of the government from 1865 to 1872, the time when Florence was declared the provincial capital of newly formed nation. Nowadays, a greater part of the building is converted into museum which showcases the artwork of the renaissance period showcasing its grandeur and subtlety and thus came into prominence as a popular destination of Florence in Italy tour map.
Art and Architecture
Some of the greatest names of the high renaissance period are associated with the architecture and artworks that adorns the museum and palace of Palazzo Vecchio. For instance, Michelangelo’s masterpiece David stood at the entrance from 1504 to 1873, when it was shifted to Accademia Gallery. Later a replica is restored in its place in 1910.At the entrance, flanked by two gilded lions was the engraving which states “Rex Regum et Dominus Dominantium” which means “Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord “. It is where you begin to feel the erstwhile royal grandeur that always been associated with this place and there are only a handful of places in your entire Florence tour that would evoke such a feeling.
Salone dei Cinquecento is the most impressive chamber that houses great fresco artworks like The Taking of Siena, The Conquest of Porto Ercole,The Victory of Cosimo I at Marciano in Val di Chiana ,Defeat of the Pisans at the Tower of San Vincenzo,Maximillian of Austria Attempts the Conquest of Leghorn andPisa Attacked by the Florentine Troop.The life and times of glory of the Medici family are depicted in the paintings of the ceiling. Besides this impressive display of power and beauty of the Florentines, other notable halls and rooms of the building includes the Studiolo, House of the Saturn, House of Lion, Ceres room, to name a few. Visitors should have enough time while visiting this museum as there are endless array of artworks, paintings that enlivens your imagination and humbles you before the sheer grandeur of the days of glory of Florence and it is an equivocal opinion of many Italians that if you could not envisage the erstwhile glory of Florence, your Italy tour is not complete at all.
Important things to know
Before planning your detailed Florence tour itinerary, let’s have a quick glance at the important facts to be known about the timings of the Palazzo Vecchio and the cost of the ticket. The museum is open from Friday to Wednesday 9am to 7pm and on Thursday 9am to 2pm. The ticket will be available from the counter at the cost of 6 euro per head. The museum remains closed on 1st January, Easter, 1st May, 15th August and 25th December.
Best time to visit
Italy, being a Mediterranean country, the best time to visit would be summer when the weather is calm and pleasant with clear sky and fine breeze, but there are few other things to consider as for your long cherished tour in Italy. Officially the summer of Italy is from the month of August when Italy welcomes its guests to revel in the glories of the past. But there would be quite a crowd during this peak seasons when tourists from all over the world flocks in. You could be stranded in the queue for long hours and so if you want to avoid the crowd, it is better to visit the place in the month of April-May. At that time the queue would not be so long and less crowd so that you could bask in the glory of Florence in quiet and at your leisurely pace. Remember not to hurry over the place as there are so many things to be seen. So if you are planning a trip to Italy and especially to Florence, you can never afford to ignore Palazzo Vecchio and its array of artifacts to be reveled upon. It is not only a part of history for Italy but a heritage of the world culture at large.