Palazzo Vecchio

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The Palazzo Vecchio in the Piazza della Signoria

The Palazzo Vecchio [ paˈlatːso ˈvɛkːjo ] ("old palace") was the seat of the city parliament and was the center of secular power in Florence in the 14th century. It was originally called Palazzo della Signoria (the Signoria was the government of the republic) until the administration by Duke I. Cosimo out of the house Medici in the Uffizi moved. Today the Palazzo Vecchio serves as the town hall of Florence.

Building history

Construction on the majestic building began in 1299, six years after the guilds took power. The architect and sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio was responsible for planning the palazzo . From its completion in 1314, the building housed the Parliament of the Republic of Florence and served as a bed for the MPs. This explains the well-fortified character of the architecture, which complied with the gathering's desire for security, for protection against attacks by restless family clans or the angry people. The old structure can still be seen today. The 300 members of the Citizens' Council met on the barely windowed first floor. The “ Council of Hundreds ” met on the first floor and living and office rooms were located on the second floor.

With its distinctive shape, the tower has a decisive influence on the silhouette of the city. It has a height of 94 meters and is called "Arnolfo Tower" in honor of the builder - initially under the name "Torre Faraboschi". With its side facing the Piazza della Signoria, the tower hangs over a meter as it stands directly on the cantilevered crenellated floor of the palazzo. Its massive core, however, runs through the building front in full height (hence the blind windows below the tower). This typical form of a Tuscan communal palace goes back to the basic form of the family towers, the casa-torre, the tower houses (Duby, p. 463: “The citizen palaces of the Tuscan cities [...] were basically nothing else than Roman houses with inner courtyards that are had transformed into fortresses and with their towers reached dizzying heights. ")

The model for the Florentine official palace was the Palazzo dei Priori of Volterra , which was begun in 1208, and the Palazzo del Imperatorre in Prato , which was built between 1238 and 1249. The basic form of the later urban aristocratic palaces such as the Palazzo Medici Riccardi or the Palazzo Strozzi derives from the Palazzo Vecchio . The monumental character of this building, the façades that appear to be closed from the outside and some architectural details, such as the structure of the floors through narrow cornice strips, recur in the aristocratic palace building.

The palace dominates the Piazza della Signoria . In front of the main portal, the lion gate, a copy of Michelangelo's David and Baccio Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus stand as “gatekeepers” . To the south in the direction of the Arno , the Uffizi Gallery is located behind Via del Ninna .

Duke Cosimo I made the Palazzo Vecchio his government palace in 1540/41. He had it extensively rebuilt and renewed, e.g. For example, the Salone dei Cinquecento (the hall of the “Council of 500”) was expanded into an audience hall and numerous apartments were newly built or redesigned. The performing artists were initially Baccio Bandinelli and Giovanni dell'Opera , later Giorgio Vasari , with Livio Agresti , and Giovanni Stradano .



The frescoes on the walls show towns of the Habsburg Monarchy , which were built in 1565 by Giorgio Vasari for the wedding celebration of Francesco I de 'Medici , the eldest son of Cosimo I de' Medici , with Archduchess Johanna von Österreich , sister of Emperor Maximilian II. , Were made. Among the cities shown are Graz , Innsbruck , Linz , Vienna , Hall in Tirol , Freiburg im Breisgau and Constance . Some frescoes have been damaged over time.

Hall of the Five Hundred

Hall of the Five Hundred

The huge hall of the five hundred (Sala dei Cinquecento) with a size of 54 × 22 meters was laid out at the suggestion of Girolamo Savonarola . After the second expulsion of the Medici, this Dominican reformed the republic by setting up a large council of five hundred members based on the Venetian model. The hall required for this was built in 1495 by Simone del Pollaiuolo and Antonio da Sangallo .

In 1503, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were commissioned to create a large wall painting for the hall. The Anghiari battle (Leonardo) and the battle of Cascina (Michelangelo) were named as themes . Both wall paintings were not completed. Leonardo left his work unfinished and Michelangelo could not get beyond the preparatory boxes. From 1555 to 1572 the hall was completely redesigned by Vasari according to the wishes of Cosimo I de 'Medici , whether Leonardo's picture was destroyed or walled up in the process has not yet been clarified.


Studiolo in the Palazzo Vecchio

A typical invention of architecture in the Renaissance is the so-called Studiolo , a private scholar's room of a prince - here that of Francis I of Medici. It was built in 1570 according to Vasari's plans. This writing room measures only 8.41 × 3.31 m. Such studioli were usually furnished with selected works of art, here with paintings and small sculptures of the Florentine mannerism.

Guardaroba nuova

In this private room of Cosimo I de 'Medici , valuable collector's items were stored according to their geographical origin. Ignazio Danti carried out the choreographic representations on the cupboard doors under the direction of Fra Miniato Pitti (oil on wood). The equipment also included a terrestrial and celestial globe, both made by Egnazio Danti, which Danti in retrospect found particularly successful. His pride was based on a rotating mechanism inside the spheres, which simplified the handling of the globes, each with a diameter of 210 cm.


The town hall of the Middle Franconian city of Fürth (1840/50) was modeled on the Palazzo Vecchio. The town hall in Opole is also similar to the Palazzo Vecchio.


  • Ettore Allegri, Alessandro Cecchi: Palazzo Vecchio ei Medici. Guida storica. SPES, Florence 1980.
  • Georges Duby : The time of the cathedrals. Art and Society 980–1420 (= Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch Wissenschaft. 1011). 2nd Edition. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-518-28611-0 .
  • Rolf Toman (ed.): The art of the Italian Renaissance. Architecture - sculpture - painting - drawing. Könemann, Cologne 1994, ISBN 3-89508-054-3 .
  • Nicolai Rubinstein : The Palazzo Vecchio 1298-1532. Government, Architecture, and Imagery in the Civic Palace of the Florentine Republic. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1995, ISBN 0-19-920602-3 .
  • Carlo Francini (Ed.): Palazzo Vecchio. Officina di opere e di ingegni. Silvana Editoriale, Milan 2006.
  • Klaus Zimmermanns: Florence. Paths through the Medici city: from the Cathedral Square to the Uffizi Gallery, over the Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti. 6th, updated edition. Dumont Reiseverlag, Ostfildern 2012, ISBN 978-3-7701-3973-6
  • Fabian Jonietz: The book for the picture. The 'Stanze nuove' in the Palazzo Vecchio, Giorgio Vasari's 'Ragionamenti' and the legibility of art in the Cinquecento (= Italian research by the Art History Institute in Florence - Max Planck Institute. 4th part, vol. 11). Deutscher Kunstverlag, Berlin / Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-422-07468-2 .

Web links

Commons : Palazzo Vecchio  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rolf Toman (ed.): The art of the Italian Renaissance. 1994, p. 31.
  2. Klaus Zimmermanns: Florence. Paths through the Medici city: from the Cathedral Square to the Uffizi Gallery, over the Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti. 2012, p. 58.
  3. Carmen C. Bambach (Ed.): Leonardo Da Vinci, Master Draftsman. Metropolitan Museum of Art u. a., New York NY 2003, ISBN 1-58839-033-0 , p. 480, (exhibition catalog. New York NY, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, January 22 - March 30, 2003).
  4. The reference to the technology can be found in Vasari: "[...] sul legname a uso di minij dipinte a olio le tauole di Tolomeo [...]." Cf. Vasari 1568, Vol. II, pp. 877-878.
  5. Danti noted in a letter to Polidoro Castelli dated September 23, 1567 that these monumental models of the earth and the sky could be set in motion with a finger.

Coordinates: 43 ° 46 ′ 10 ″  N , 11 ° 15 ′ 22 ″  E