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Duomo or
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
(begun in 1296)

 


Campanile of Giotto
(begun in 1334)

FLORENCE HISTORY AND HIGHLIGHTS

The origin of the city of Florence is very ancient. First foundation goes back to the 8th century BC, when a flourishing and enlightened Etruscan civilization is formed on the bank of the Arno. In the 1st century BC the Roman colony of Florentia was founded over the earlier Etruscan settlement, and preserved till the Middle Age the ancient urban plane, made up of squared-off and uniform lines and a rectangular plane.
With the fall of the Empire and the barbarian invasions of Byzantines and Longobards there was a dark period of decline for Florentia as well as for the other Italian cities. The territory started to rivive in the 8th century during the Carolingian Period when a feudal system was estabilished and the territory become a county of the Holy Roman Empire.
Florence becomes a free commune in 1115, and throughout the next centuries due to its growing importance and the considerable increase in population the city walls will be enlarged for the third times to include vast areas Oltrarno.

The first churches are built, San Miniato al Monte and the Baptistery (11th), faced in polycrome marble according the dictates of the Romanesque style. The medieval city is puntuacted by the large number of stone tower-houses, then erected for militar purpose and later symbols of the power of the Florentine families. Together with the important public buildings, Palazzo Vecchio and the Bargello (13th), built as the headquarters of the city, large religious complex are raised by the religious Orders who gave the medieval Florence an urbanistic boost. The churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce were built following the new Gothic style as well as the Duomo, and the standing next Giotto's Campanile (13th-14th).
Great artists are at work, such as the architect Arnolfo di Cambio, Giotto and Cimabue in painting, Dante in literature.

During the period between the 13th and the 16th centuries Florence is enriched by architectural and artistic jewels of incomparable beauty.

In the 15th numerous palaces were built by the wealthy Florentine families such as the Medici family who estabilished themselves as Dukes of Florence and under the long rule of which the city continued flourishing in many fields. The majestic Pitti Palace and the Medici Riccardi Palace, date from this period.
It is the early Renaissance, which sees the emergence of three great figures: Brunelleschi in architecture, Donatello in sculpture, Masaccio in painting.
Monuments are inspired by classical art, geometric laws and perspective. Brunelleschi's genius created the magnificent Cupola (dome) of the Duomo, the churches of Santo Spirito and San Lorenzo, the Pazzi Chapel (15th).

In the 16th century Florence "City of Art" reaches its maximum splendor. Late Renaissance sees universal artists as Leonardo and Michelangelo, the latter built the New Sacresty (1516), part of the Medici Chapels, the medicean mausoleum. The David, Michelangelo's sculptural masterpiece, is placed in the Signoria Square as a symbol of the freedom of the city. Later, Vasari built for the Grand Duke Cosimo de Medici the Uffizi and the secret Vasari Corridor, his mannierist masterpiece.

After the decline of the Medici in 1737 Florence is ruled by the Lorraine family till the 1859 when the french-austrian dinasty will be expelled.
In the brief period 1865-1871 Florence will be capital of Italy.

 


Symbol in Saint Mark - In Venice Today


Many great artists lived in Florence whose genius can be found in literature, architecture, sculpture and painting:

Cimabue (1240-1302), Dante (1265-1321), Giotto (1266-1337), Brunelleschi (1377-1446), Donatello (1386-1466), Masaccio (1401-1428), Botticelli (1445-1510), Leonardo (1452-1519), Michelangelo (1475-1564), Vasari are but a few...

each drawing one's inspiration from the city life and finding a motivation of intellectual growth in it.
 


Bargello


Church of Santa Maria Novella


Church of Santa Croce


Church of Ognissanti

The Palace houses the National Museum. Public building of the Middle Age, it was built as a rectangular fortress in 1255 and completed during the 300. First headquarters of the Captain of the People, it housed during the centuries many public offices till the Captain of Justice known as Bargello.
The Dominican complex is a masterpiece of the Gothic and Renaissance styles. Begun in 1246, it was completed in 1360 by Jacopo Talenti with the construction of the campanile and the sacresty. The facade, was completed later in 1470 by Leon Battista Alberti who extended the original Romanesque/Gothic design with Renaissance elements.
The monumental gothic church (1294) by Arnolfo di Cambio is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Inside, the works of Giotto and Donatello, and the sepulcral monuments to Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Machiavelli. In the closter of the convent stands the Pazzi Chapel, designed by Brunelleschi and masterpiece of Florentine Renaissance.
The ancient church was founded in 1256 by the Benedectine Order but was completly rebuilt in the 17th together with the Cloister and the facade. Of the early church only the medieval Campanile in romanesque style remains which follows the model of that of S. Maria Novella. In the refectory of the convent there is the splendid fresco by Ghirlandaio, the Last Supper.

 

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