Visiting Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy: schedule, prices and tips

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Palazzo Vecchio, also called the Old Palace, is located in Piazza della Signoria in Florence. Its founding dates back to the beginning of the 13th century: it is famous for its rich history and the splendid decoration of its rooms.

You won’t have to look far to find it – it’s in the heart of the city, not far from the Uffizi Gallery.

History of the Palazzo Vecchio

The construction of the palace began in 1299. From its foundation, the building had the meaning of a government building: it was to host meetings of the priors.

The original site was originally the residence of the Uberti family. Completely erected palazzo was completed in 1314.

Construction of the palace

The development of the project was entrusted to Arnolfo di Cambio. He was a famous architect and sculptor, born in Colle di Val d’Elsa and died in Florence.

The history of the palace is bound up with tragic events: in 1478 the rebels commanded by Francesco Pazzi were hanged on its walls and in 1479 Bernardo di Bandino Baroncello, who murdered Giuliano de’ Medici.

In 1667 the clock made by G. Lederle, a Bavarian Augsburg native, was placed in the high tower. Imagine, they work perfectly to this day!

In the middle of the 19th century the building temporarily housed the meetings of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Italy, which was later located in Rome.

Origin of the name

After its construction it was first called Nova (Palagio novo), while the name of the Old was passed on to the building where the prorias previously sat, the present Bargello in Via del Proconsolo, 4.

When the governing members of the municipality began to call themselves signori in the 15th century, the building was renamed Palazzo della Signoria. The square has had a similar name ever since.

Later, the palace was renamed again as Palazzo Ducale. This was due to Duke Cosimo I (Cosimo I de Medici) moving here, who had previously occupied the Palazzo Medici Riccardi.

After Cosimo I made Palazzo Pitti his residence in 1565, the building in the Piazza della Signoria was again renamed the Old Palace.

Modern times

Today the building is used as the town hall, where meetings of the local council are held.

But its stately halls are open to the public and contain extraordinary frescoes, paintings, and statues of Italian geniuses. Among others, you can see the works of Giorgio Vasari, Donatello, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, and others.

Architecture of the Old Palace

The brick building looks imposing and powerful. Reminds one of a medieval fortress. In a similar style is made Palazzo Toscana, located in Volterra – this palace was taken as the basis.

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Photo: Sergey Dzyuba / Shutterstock.com

When you look at the facade, it seems that it is divided into three levels: such a feeling is created by the cornices. On the second and middle floor the building is decorated with arched windows, divided in two by columns.

You will not see here an abundance of decorative elements – the palace looks simple, but majestic.

The tower

The upper level is decorated with a massive gallery with wide teeth – as if it overhangs the entire building. Next is the 94-meter high Arnolfo Tower. On it stands a bell tower with a gallery similar to the one below.

In medieval times, the tower served as a prison. Girolamono Savonarola and Cosimo de Medici were imprisoned here.

The Arnolfo Tower is worth a climb – it offers an unforgettable panorama of Florence. Also available to visit is the part of the palace with the battlements, which offers a beautiful view of the city.

The Lion’s Gate

In front of the entrance to the palazzo, called the Lion’s Gate, from 1504 to 1873 was the original statue of David, created by Michelangelo. Today there is a copy in its place, and the original has been moved to the Academy of Fine Arts.

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Piazza della Signoria

The statue of David is five meters high: it took a full four days to move it to the Palazzo Vecchio. It replaced the bronze group of Judith and Holofernes by Donatello.

Another statue before the entrance is Hercules defeating Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli.

What to see inside

The palace’s opulent interiors are a work of art, housing frescoes and murals by renowned Italian masters.

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Photo: Nick_Nick / Shutterstock.com

Among the various musical instruments in one of the rooms are violins made by Antonio Stradivari and Amati, a member of the Amati family of violin makers.

The Room of Five Hundred

One of the largest rooms of the palace is the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of Five Hundred). Its dimensions are 52 x 30 meters. Meetings of the Grand National Council of the Republic of Florence were held here.

Initially the execution of the frescoes for decorating the room was entrusted to the famous Italian masters Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci) and Michelangelo di Buonarroti. The theme of the images was the battles glorifying the Republic of Florence.

The frescoes were commissioned by the gonfaloniere Piero Soderini. One, by Leonardo da Vinci, was to be dedicated to the battle of Anguari, the other, by Michelangelo, to the battle of Cascina. The frescoes were supposed to face each other.

However, the artists collaborated to create only preparatory cartons. After completing this part of the work, Da Vinci began painting the walls in 1503. In the process it became clear that the fresco was gradually deteriorating, and the case was delayed. One possible cause was experimentation with the composition of the paints.

If Leonardo da Vinci finished the fresco, it would have been the largest of his works: a masterpiece would have received a size of 6.6 x 17.4 meters. However, after receiving an invitation from Milan, the artist left, leaving the mural unfinished.

Giorgio Vasari was subsequently commissioned by the Medici family to paint the walls. Many believe that he did not remove the fresco begun by Leonardo da Vinci, but left it in the background of his own – it recounts the battle of Marchiano.

In addition to the amazing painting of the ceiling and walls, the marble statues are worth paying attention to. The most famous are Giambologna’s copy of the Triumph of Florence over Pisa and Michelangelo’s sculptural composition of the “Genius, trampling over brute force”.

Apartments of the elements

The private rooms of Duke Cosimo I, called the Apartment of the Elements (Quartiere degli Elementi) are on the second floor. They include several rooms and two loggias.

They were also decorated by Giorgio Vasari. The frescoes contain allegorical representations of fire, earth and water – the main one is the image of Venus the Foetus.

Pay attention to the ceiling – there is an image of Saturn, god of agriculture. From the terrace you can admire a magnificent view of the Church of Santa Croce.

In one of the rooms belonging to the Apartment of the Elements is the sculpture by Andrea del Verrocchio, “The Boy with the Fish”.

Cybele Hall

An interesting hall is the Cybele Hall, where the frescoes “The Seasons” and “The Triumph of Cybele” are worth seeing. The windows overlook the Third Courtyard.

Sala Jupiter

In Jupiter’s Hall (Sala di Giove), the fresco on the ceiling, dedicated to this deity, is remarkable. The walls are decorated with tapestries: they were created from Stradano’s cartons in the 16th century.

The room of Penelope

The walls of the Sala di Penelope are decorated with frescos by Sandro Botticelli: “Madonna and Child and St. John” and “Madonna and Child”.

The ceiling has an image of Penelope sitting at the loom. There you can also see scenes from the poem “The Odyssey” by the ancient Greek poet Homer.

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Ceres Hall

Amazing tapestries and frescoes can be found in the Hall of Cerere (Sala di Cerere). The first are on the walls and are dedicated to the theme of the hunt, created from Stradano’s cartoons.

A fresco depicting the goddess of harvest and fertility Cerere adorns the ceiling. The work is by Doceno, son of Giorgio Vasari.

The Green Room

In the Green Room (Camera Verde) are interesting murals by the Italian painter Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio.

There is also a chapel on the right side. Its decoration was done by Agnolo Bronzino. The altar has a fresco of the Pietà and on one of the walls is the Story of Moses.

A small door gives access to the Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano), built in the mid-16th century to link the palazzo with the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti.

Hall of Audiences and Hall of Lilies

Once separate rooms, the Sala dell’Audienza and the Sala dei Gigli are now united into one. Contains some of the palace’s oldest interiors.

The magnificent fresco on the walls is by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio. It depicts Saint Zanobia, who was the first bishop of Florence, and the saints Stefano and Lorenzo. In addition, the fresco contains figures of heroes of the Roman Republic.

The ceiling of the Hall of Lilies contains an image of the coat of arms of the Counts of Anjou – a golden lily on a bluish background. On the ceiling of the Room of Audiences, painted in the 14th century by Giuliano de Maiano, you can see the coat of arms of Florence.

Also notable are the frescoes recounting the life of the Roman dictator Furius Camillus (Marcus Furius Camillus). They are an allegory of the power of Cosimo I.

Worth seeing is the marble portal, designed by Giuliano de Maiano and Benedetto. In this room we also keep the original Judith and Holofernes by Donatello.

Chancery Hall

In the Hall of Chancery (Sala della Cancelleria) you can admire the bust of the Italian philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli. You can also see his portrait.

Hall of Geographical Maps

An antique world map and a huge globe are kept in the Hall of Geographic Maps (Sala delle Carte Geografiche). Looking at the panels on the walls, you can get an idea of how the world was seen in the 16th century.

You can enter this room from the Hall of Chancery.

The inner courtyard

On the first floor it is worth admiring the courtyard decorated in Renaissance style in the mid-15th century by architect Michelozzo di Bartolomeo.

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Photo: Roman Babakin / Shutterstock.com

In the central part there is a fountain by Verrocchio. The structure is decorated with a figure of Cupid holding a fish.

Paintings are dedicated to the Austrian cities of Linz, Vienna and Graz. They were created for the marriage of Francesco I, son of Duke Cosimo I, to Ioanna of Austria.

How to reach Palazzo Vecchio

Located in Piazza della Signoria in the historic center. It is about a 20-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella train station and about a 10-minute walk from the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.

Office hours

When to visit Palazzo Vecchio:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m;
  • Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ticket offices close one hour before the end of the museum.

Climb the Arnolfo Tower on the following schedule:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m;
  • Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ticket prices

As of 2022, a ticket to visit the Palazzo Vecchio costs:

  • 12.50 Euros for adults;
  • 10 Euros for visitors from 18 to 25 years old and students.

How much does it cost to climb the Arnolfo Tower:

  • 12.50 Euros for adults;
  • 10.00 Euros for visitors aged 18 to 25 and students.
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Children under 18 years old are free to enter the palace.

Schedule and ticket prices are subject to change – check the official website at cultura.comune.fi.it/pagina/musei-civici-fiorentini/museo-di-palazzo-vecchio.

Excursions in Florence

If you want something more interesting than a traditional walk around the city on a map, try a new format of sightseeing. In modern times more and more popular are unusual excursions from the locals! After all, who better than a local knows the history and the most interesting places in Florence?

You can see all the tours and choose the most intriguing on the Tripster website.

Palazzo Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio

Full ticket – 12,50 euro, full ticket with a visit to the roof of the palace and the tower – 17,50 euro, full comprehensive ticket (museum + tower + archaeological area) – 19,50 euro, full ticket only the roof of the palace and the archaeological area – 16 euro.

Palazzo Vecchio is the main structure in Piazza della Signoria. Designed by the famous Italian architect Arnolfo di Cambio, the palace for many years was the center of political life in Florence. Today it is one of the city’s symbols and one of its most visited attractions.

Built at the turn of the 14th century, the Palazzo Vecchio is a classic example of a medieval fortress palace. There are many similar structures in Florence today. The powerful construction was intended to protect its illustrious residents in case of enemy attack. The architecture is also subject to this – it is simple and concise.

If you look at the structure from above, it is rectangular in shape. The austere building is almost devoid of decorations. Barely visible cornices divide its massif into three parts. The top of Palazzo Vecchio is crowned with battlements, making it even more like an impregnable fortress. The same technique is repeated on the tower, which rises above the main building. The jagged crown is attached to the building by arched spans. Today the openings contain the coats of arms of the nine Florentine guilds, but originally they had a utilitarian purpose. In the event of a siege stones and hot brew would pour down on the heads of the besiegers.

In contrast to the architecture, the interior furnishings of Palazzo Vecchio are stunning. Looking at the austere building, it’s hard to imagine the luxury and wealth that lurk inside. On the interiors of the palace worked the best masters of their time – Giorgio Vasari, Bernardo Buontalenti, Simone del Pollaiolo. It is adorned with works by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Donatello, Giambalogni, Bandinelli and Ghirlinedo. In general, behind the simplicity of the walls of Palazzo Vecchio hides a veritable treasury of world masterpieces of painting and sculpture.

Palazzo Vecchio

From the Palazzo della Signoria to the Palazzo Vecchio

The palace was built on the site of the residence of the defeated Uberti family. Having wiped out all the buildings of their former rival, the rulers of the Florentine commune decided to build their own residence in their place. The works began in 1299 and were finished in 1314. The representative building was called the New Palace.

In the 14th century it was renamed into the Palazzo della Signoria as the rulers of the municipality got a new title – they began to be called lords. In turn, the new name was transferred to the square in front of the palace – it was called Piazza della Signoria, which remains to this day.

In 1540 the seat of government changed its name again. A member of the Medici dynasty, Duke Cosimo I of Tuscany, moved here, and the palace was renamed Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace). But after 15 years, the Duke moved to a new residence, and the former New Palace is assigned the current name Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace).

Palazzo Vecchio

The Palazzo Vecchio witnessed the dramatic twists and turns of Florentine history. In the second half of the fifteenth century, plotters who encroached on the power of the Medici family were hanged in its windows. And Savonarola, who was executed in the square, spent his last days in a small room in the tower. The memory of another unfortunate man, whose name is not preserved by history, is preserved by one of the stones of the wall behind the sculpture “Hercules defeating Cacus” near the front entrance to the palace. As legend has it, this “graffiti” was left by none other than Michelangelo.

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Today Palazzo Vecchio is not only the seat of power (it houses the municipality) but also a museum worth visiting if you come to Florence.

Tickets

The Palazzo Vecchio Museum offers five types of tickets:

  • Museum halls only – 12.50 euros full and 10 euros discounted.
  • Museum halls, the roof of the palace and the tower – €17.50 full and €15 discounted.
  • Complex ticket (museum halls, archaeological area, palace roof and tower) – 19,50 euro full and 17,50 euro discount.
  • Single ticket for the roof of the palace and the tower – 12,50 euro full and 8 euro discount.
  • Archaeological area – 4 euros for all visitors.

Preferential ticket applies to young people aged 18-25 years and students.

Children under 18 years of age visit the Palazzo Vecchio for free.

Children under the age of 8 are not allowed to enter the Archaeological Zone. Children under the age of 6 are not allowed on the roof of the palace and the tower. Children under 18 years of age may only ascend the roof and tower when accompanied by an adult.

To avoid wasting time in line, it is recommended to purchase a ticket in advance online on the museum website.

Ticket offices to the museum are on the first floor, so the beautifully decorated courtyard can be seen by anyone for free.

The entrance to the palace is through the front door from Piazza Signoria. However, in the reviews of tourists there is information that the front door can be closed. Then get inside through the gate from the side of via dei Gondi.

Palazzo Vecchio

Mode of operation

The museum in Palazzo Vecchio operates as follows:

April – September daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

October-March daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Box Office closes 1 hour before the museum closes.

The museum is closed on December 25th.

Regime of the Tower :

April – September daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

October to March 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Entrance to the Tower is closed in case of rain.

More information on ticket prices and opening hours can be found on the museum’s website.

The halls of Palazzo Vecchio

An introduction to the palazzo is worth beginning at the front entrance, which has the name of the Lion’s Gate. Placed in 1528, the portal is decorated by two stone lions. On either side of the door are statues – a copy of the famous “David” by Michelangelo and “Hercules defeating Cacus” by Bandinelli.

The front entrance leads to the Inner or First Courtyard, made in early Renaissance style in 1453. Later there are murals depicting the Austrian cities of Vienna, Linz, and Graz to celebrate the marriage of the son of Cosimo I with the daughter of the Austrian emperor.

The Palazzo Vecchio has three floors or tiers. The interior space is divided into halls. Their extraordinarily beautiful interiors were created mainly in the 16th century after the Medici family came to power. The earlier decoration has hardly survived. The rooms are decorated with frescoes, tapestries, and paintings by the great Renaissance masters.

The interior decoration of the palazzo

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Among the most interesting rooms are the Hall of Audiences and the Hall of Lilies. Once they were a single space. These rooms are noteworthy for the preservation of elements of the interiors of the Florentine Republic: frescoes by Ghirlandaio of Cicero, Brutus, Scipio, and other champions of the Republic of ancient Rome. In the Hall of Audiences and Lilies, the extraordinary ceiling with lilies and the original sculpture of Judith and Holofernes by Donatello deserve special attention. A copy is installed in the Loggia Lanzi in Piazza Signoria.

Wandering through the many halls of the palaces, don’t miss such interesting exhibits as the death mask of Dante in the Priory Apartments, the famous painting of the Madonna and Child by Botticelli, and the sculpture of the Boy with a Fish by Andrea Verocchio in the Apartment of the Elements. Also in the museum, you can see ancient maps, a huge globe from 1581, and Stradivarius’ violins.

The Room of Five Hundred

This is the most famous and largest room of the Palazzo Vecchio and is located on the first floor. The room measures 52 by 23 meters and was created for the meetings of the Great People’s Council of the Republic of Florence. Coryphaei such as Michelangelo and Da Vinci worked on the interiors of the room. It is the only example of two titans of the Renaissance working together. Unfortunately, the frescoes made by them were destroyed during the reconstruction carried out in the second half of the 16th century.

New murals depicting Florence’s military victories under Cosimo I were painted by Giorgio Vasari. There is a legend, however, that he kept Da Vinci’s fresco, simply painting over it with his own.

Numerous statues adorn the Hall of Five Hundred. Among them is the marble sculpture of Michelangelo’s “Genius, trampling over brute force”.

The tower and roof of the palace

The Vecchio Palace is crowned by a 94-meter tower, named after the creator of the palace complex, Arnolfo. In 1667, a clock appeared on it, and it still counts today.

The tower is a decoration of the palazzo and the entire square, but in the past it had to perform a darker function – its walls served as a prison. Among the most famous inmates of the Arnolfo Tower were Cosimo de Medici and Girolamono Savonarola.

Today the tower is open to all comers. It offers unforgettable views of beautiful Florence. When you climb the tower you can admire the famous dome of the Duomo Cathedral. And the number of visitors here is usually less than on other famous viewing platforms – the Duomo Dome or Giotto Campanile. You might have to wait your turn, though. The number of visitors to the tower is limited and the recommended time to visit the observation deck is 10 minutes.

Panorama – view from the Arnolfo Tower

The ascent to the Arnolfo Tower is relatively easy due to the fact that the stairs leading up there are not spiral. If you don’t want to climb all 94 meters, however, you can limit your attention to the roof of the palace. The views from it are no less stunning.

How to reach Palazzo Vecchio

The palace is located in the heart of Florence, in Piazza della Signoria. All the main attractions of the city are located in the neighborhood, within walking distance. When walking around the city, include Palazzo Vecchio in your list of things to see.

If you travel by public transport, the nearest stop is Benci, where bus 23 stops.

The same bus you can get to the palace from the train station of Santa Maria Novella.

Bus from Florence Central Station to Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria

From the opposite side of the river go the C4 buses. Go to the Borgo San Iacopo stop.

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