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Piazza della Signoria
Florence, Italy
The Signoria is the city's governing body

Style: Renaissance

TEXT Beneath Illustrations



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Palazzo Vecchio 1298-1343

Palazzo Vecchio. The tower (94 meters) rises straight from the balcony.

Palazzo Vecchio

Coats-of-arms


Palazzo Vecchio and Loggia della Signoria

Loggia della Signoria ..... Loggia

Loggia della Signoria Cellini's "Perseus"

Loggia della Signoria "The Rape of the Sabine Women," by Giambologna (1583)

Loggia della Signoria: corbel. Detail of previous photo

Loggia della Signoria "The Abduction of Proserpine," by Pio Fedi (1866)

Another view of "Perseus," by Cellini

One of the "Two Lions"

Neptune Fountain (1563-75)




Palazzo Vecchio

The secular center of the community, the town hall, was almost as much the object of civic pride as the cathedral. This tall structure served as lookout over the city and the countryside around it and as a bell tower from which signals of all sorts could be rung to the populace.

The medieval city, a self-contained political unit, had to defend itself against neighboring cities and often against kings and emperors; in addition, it had to be secure against internal upheavals, which were common in the history of the Italian city-republics. Feuds between rich and powerful families, class struggle, even uprisings of the whole populace against the city fathers were constant threats to a city's internal security. The heavy walls and battlements of the Italian town hall eloquently express the frequent need of city governors to defend themselves against their own citizens.The high tower, out of reach of most missiles is further protected by machicolated galleries - projecting galleries at the top of a castle wall, supported by a row of corbeled arches and having openings in the floor through which stones and boiling liquids could be dropped on attackers.

The bell of the Palazzo Vecchio tower summoned Florentine citizens to this piazza to hear announcements or see justice enacted in its grimmest form. The great bell in the tower now tolls only at the bleakest of times: after the German occupation of Florence on August 11, 1943, after the flood of November 4, 1966, and after the terrorist bombing of the Uffizi on May 27, 1993.

Palazzo Vecchio, built in rustic embossment, is adorned by two rows of two-light mullioned windows and several other windows under a jutting balcony, the whole being crowned by the graceful tower called the Tower di Arnolfo.

Originally (1298-1343) the palace, that was mistakenly thought to be the work of Arnolfo di Cambio, was composed of only the part standing under the battlemented balcony It was enlarged later - the parts added at the opposite sides are clearly to be seen - and it was entirely restored inside up to the end of the 16th century.

Under the projections of the balcony, we see painted the coats-of-arms and the emblem, of the Republic, together with the coats-of-arms of its protectors and allies.

The tower (94 meters) rises straight from the balcony. Under the bell cell there is also a balcony resting on a projection, ornamented by three two-light mullioned windows on each side. The tower held political prisoners.

The Palace was the seat of the Republic and, consequently, of the Signoria, until the middle of the 16th century.

In 1540
Medici Grand Duke Cosimo I and his wife Eleanor of Toledo transformed the bureaucratic building into a sumptuous residence, hiring Georgio Vasari to design an interior which would glorify the Medici and their rule (all that money couldn't overcome Eleanor's dislike for of her new home and she spurred Cosimo to move to the Pitti Palace in 1549). The building was originally named the Palazzo della Signoria, but renamed after Cosimo moved here with with his family. It functions now as Florence's City Hall.


Loggia della Signoria

The public ceremonies that were previously held in front of the Palazzo Vecchio were subsequently held in the Loggia.

The architecture of the
Loggia is the transitional style between Gothic and Renaissance.

The Loggia is composed of three rounded arches resting on massive pillars with the architrave crowned by a balustrade.

The builders of the Loggia meant it to go all round the Square. The builders were the same architects who supervised the construction of the Cathedral, Beci di Cione, Simone Talenti and others,m from 1376-82.



Neptune Fountain (1563-75)

This fountain was built to commemorate Medici Grand Duke Cosimo I's naval achievements.

The statue of Neptune in the center of the fountain is by Ammannati who, together with assistants, adorned the fountain with lively bronze statues of sea gods and satyrs.

In front of the fountain, a disc with an inscription marks the spot where Girolama Savonarola and his companions were hung and burnt alive on May 23, 1498.




Sources:



Photos and their arrangement 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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