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Palazzo Vecchio in Florence photo

Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) is one of the most important sights of the city symbolizing the power of the Republic of Florence. It was the seat of the republican government and for several centuries there were taken all political decisions.

In the Middle Ages, the political life in Florence, as well as in many other republics of Italy, was exceptionally eventful and a struggle of various political fractions for power was very fierce. Until 13 century the Florence was governed by the Ghibellines, who abode at several towers built by them on the site of today Piazza della Signoria.

In 1293 the fractions of merchants and bankers won over the two families of the Ghibellines, the Uberti and the Foraboschi, who ruled over the Florentine Republic, and wanted to build their own palace, which was called the New Palace, on the site of the towers. The architect Arnolfo di Cambio incorporated one of the ancient towers in the ensemble of the New Palace.

The palace several times changed its name: it was called Palazzo dei Priori, Palazzo Signoria and Palazzo Ducale, until the Medici government didn’t move their residence to the Palazzo Pitti. By that time the ‘new’ palace built in 13 century had time to get ‘old’ and passed into history just under this name: Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace).

Palazzo Vecchio is worth seeing not only from outside. A tour of the halls of the palace would be at least as interesting experience, and the ascent to the Tower of Arnolfo di Cambio is mandatory, as it commands very beautiful views on all main sights of Florence. You can see the entire Old Town of Florence: Santa Maria della Fiore Cathedral, Santa Croce Basilica, and the Boboli Gardens. At the foot of the tower the Uffizi Gallery and the Piazza della Signoria are located.

Of course, the Hall of 500 is the most interesting room of the Palazzo Vecchio. It is a huge room designed as the seat of the Grand Council of the Florentine Republic. At first, the walls of the palace were decorated by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, and were finished by Giorgio Vasari and his apprentices. So, there appeared the huge frescoes dedicated to the victories of Cosimo I de` Medici.

The other halls of the palace are at least of the same interest, as well as the private chambers of the Florentine dukes: Cosimo I de` Medici, Lorenzo the Magnificent, Leo X. The most curious are the Apartments of the Elements, the Hall of Lilies, and the Audience Hall. The Hall of Geographical Maps is also very interesting.

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Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) was built in the style of a medieval castle on the Piazza della Signoria in 1299
The Room of 500 (Salone dei Cinquecento) is 52 m long and 23 m wide
Palazzo Vecchio is dominated by the Boboli Gardens located on the opposite bank of the river Arno
Crenellated Palazzo Vecchio and its tower rise above the roofs of Florence
Statues of Michelangelo`s David and Hercules and Cacus at the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio
Palazzo Vecchio and the Ufizzi Gallery on the Piazza della Signoria in Florence
Façade of the Palazzo Vecchio overlooking the Piazza della Signoria
Map of the Palazzo Vecchio rooms
Vasari`s frescoes on the walls of the Room of 500
Coffered ceiling of the Room of 500 at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
The Audience Chamber (Sala dell`Udienza) at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
The Room of Leo X at the Palazzo Vecchio with frescoes devoted to the siege of Milan
The Room of Lorenzo de Medici the Magnificent at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
The Room of Cosimo I de Medici at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
The Room of the Four Elements: Water, Earth, Fire and Air at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
The Hercules Room at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
The Room of Opis, the wife of Saturn, at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
Private Chamber of Eleanor at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
Chapel of the Signoria at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
Altar of the Chapel of the Signoria at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
The Room of the Lilies at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
Colonnade of the inner court of the Palazzo Vecchio
Windows of the Palazzo Vecchio overlooking the inner court
Copy of Michelangelo`s David at the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio
Sculptures in the niches of the Palazzo Vecchio inner court
Castellated walls and tower of the Palazzo Vecchio rise above the roofs of the city of Florence
Globe in the middle of the Room of Geographical Maps at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
Medieval geographical maps of Europe and Asia in the Room of Geographical Maps in the Palazzo Vecchio
Medieval geographical maps of Europe and Asia in the Room of Geographical Maps in the Palazzo Vecchio
Medieval map of England in the Room of Geographical Maps in the Palazzo Vecchio