The Piazza della Signoria, together with Piazza del Duomo, is considered to be the most famous square in Florence. It is full of statues, the most famous of which is the replica of Michelangelo’s David. The most striking building on the square is Palazzo Vecchio, which houses a museum.
Piazza della Signoria Florence
History and description
The Piazza della Signoria has been the political and cultural centre of Florence since the 14th century. The square has important historical buildings such as the Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio.
Almost all the important historical events in the history of the city, starting in 1530, with the return of the Medici, took place here.
It is on this square that Savonarola was accused of heresy before being burned at the stake.
The current appearance of the square dates from the end of the 16th century, when the Uffizi were built.
The Palazzo della Mercanzia is the seat of the Gucci Museum.
The building at n.5 is the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali and is the last palace built on the square.
Palazzo Uguccioni (n. 7) is the only building in Florence with columns on the facade. It was built in 1550.
In the middle of the square stands the Equestrian Monument of Cosimo I . This bronze statue was made by Giambologna in 1598.
The Fountain of Neptune stands next to the Palazzo Vecchio. It was placed there in 1575 on the occasion of the opening of a new aqueduct. This fountain was also made by Giambologna, although he had some help from Bartolomeo Ammannati.
To the left of the stairs leading to Palazzo Vecchio is a sculpture depicting the Marzocco (a Florentine lion symbolising the power of the people). Donatello‘s original is on display in the Museo del Bargello.
Donatello was also responsible for the “Judith and Holofernes”.
Also the David (Michelangelo‘s famous original is in the Galleria dell’Accademia) and the bronze “Judith and Holofernes” are copies. The David was placed in front of the Palazzo Vecchio to emphasize the power of the Republic against the tyranny of the Medici.
The marble sculpture group “Hercules and Cacus” is original and was made in 1533 by Baccio Bandinelli. The group, which stands next to the David, is an allegorical representation of the strength and wit with which Hercules defeats the malice of Cacus. The base is decorated with bas-reliefs depicting fauns.
The Equestrian statue of Cosimo I De Medici was made by Giambologna, a Fleming whose real name was Jean de Boulogne. Although commissioneded as early as 1587, it was not finished until 1594. The client was the son of Cosimo, Ferdinand I, who died 15 years earlier. It was the first large equestrian statue in the city.
Loggia della Signoria
The Loggia della Signoria (or Loggia dei Lanzi) is nextdoor to the Palazzo Vecchio and was built in 1382. The Loggia contains a number of sculptures, including Benvenuto Cellini‘s “Perseus”, triumphantly holding up the head of the just killed Medusa.
Other statues under the Loggia dei Lanzi are the “Sabine Virgin Robbery”, the “Robbery of Polixena” by Pio Fedi, and “Hercules with the Centaur Nessus” by Giambologna.
On the other side of Palazzo Vecchio is an arcade with a marble statue group representing the “Rape of the Sabine Virgins” made by Giambologna in 1853.