Published: May 1, 2017
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Florence ⚜

Photos of Florence, Italy, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flower), Palazzo Vecchio, the Loggia dei Lanzi, and panoramic views of the city.

Dome of the Cathedral of Florence

Dome of the Cathedral of Florence - Florence, Italy Inspired by the Pantheon of Rome, Filippo Brunelleschi was responsible for this 15th century dome (built between 1420 and 1436), which crowns the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and is so representative of Florence. The construction of this imposing structure was quite a challenge at the time, but also an achievement at the beginning of the Renaissance; it has an external diameter of 45 meters (148 feet), and adds up considerably to the cathedral’s height of 114 meters (374 feet). When including the cross and the bronze orb, a work by Andrea del Verrocchio, the cathedral reaches approximately 116 meters (380 feet).

The city of Florence

The city of Florence - Florence, Italy A photo of the historic quarter from Michelangelo square. On the right, the Florence cathedral, and on the center, the Palazzo Vecchio, which can be seen in more detail in other photos.

Façade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Façade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore - Florence, Italy Just as Notre-Dame of Paris, the façade of Santa Maria del Fiore, which shares in part the Gothic style, includes a rose window; elaborate cornices; niches with statues of various personalities related to the history of Florence; and three portals with tympana portraying various religious scenes, such as the one on the photo representing Christ enthroned with Mary and John the Baptist.

Detail of the façade of the Florence Cathedral

Detail of the façade of the Florence Cathedral - Florence, Italy A close-up view of the façade area above the central bronze door of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, where you can better appreciate the details of the scene on the tympanum representing Christ on the throne, a work designed by Nicolò Barabino.

Giotto's Bell tower and Florence Cathedral façade by day

Giotto's Bell tower and Florence Cathedral façade by day - Florence, Italy The multicolored inlaid marble paneling is similar to the Pisan Romanesque style of the cathedral and baptistery of Saint John in Pisa, another architectural achievement in the Tuscany region, although the Florentine Romanesque style has its uniqueness.

Giotto's Campanile and Florence Cathedral façade by night

Giotto's Campanile and Florence Cathedral façade by night - Florence, Italy The abundant artificial lighting around the Duomo facilitates night photography, especially when you are not carrying a tripod with you.

The Abduction of Polyxena

The Abduction of Polyxena - Florence, Italy A sculpture by Pio Fedi in the Loggia dei Lanzi, an open air gallery in piazza della Signoria. On a side note, the title of this work is frequently mentioned in English as "The Rape of Polyxena," even in academic works, which is unfortunately a wrong translation of the original Italian title "Il Ratto di Polissena," where Ratto refers to abduction or kidnapping, not rape, which is known as "stupro" in Italian, and Fedi’s title for this work is definitely not "Lo stupro di Polissena." Behind the sculpture you can see the beginning of the Vasarian Corridor, a work by Giorgio Vasari, which is a communication linking Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, on the other side of the Arno River.

Santa Maria del Fiore from the streets of Florence

Santa Maria del Fiore from the streets of Florence - Florence, Italy Buildings framing the cathedral in the historical center of Florence.

Ponte Vecchio by day

Ponte Vecchio by day - Florence, Italy Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge") is a medieval bridge of 1345, although its origin is even more ancient, since it is probably the third built in the same location. The first one, built during the Roman empire, is believed to have existed already in the year 996, and was destroyed by floods, just as the second one. The third and current bridge was almost destroyed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Ponte Vecchio by night

Ponte Vecchio by night - Florence, Italy Night photo of the Old Bridge over the Arno.

Jewelry stores in Ponte Vecchio

Jewelry stores in Ponte Vecchio - Florence, Italy Shop window of one of the handcrafted jewelry stores in the Old Bridge.

Palazzo Vecchio by night

Palazzo Vecchio by night - Florence, Italy In this photo you can see up close the range of corbels of Palazzo Vecchio.

Bicycle of a store in the streets of Florence

Bicycle of a store in the streets of Florence - Florence, Italy An ornamental bicycle in a street corner of Florence.

Palazzo Vecchio tower by day

Palazzo Vecchio tower by day - Florence, Italy The tower of Palazzo Vecchio, also known as the Arnolfo tower, since it was designed by the Tuscan architect Arnolfo di Cambio, also responsible for the original project of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, or Duomo of Florence.

Detail of the façade of Palazzo Vecchio

Detail of the façade of Palazzo Vecchio - Florence, Italy Repeated over and over between the corbels you can see the 9 coat of arms of the medieval Republic of Florence.

Detail of the apse of the Florence Cathedral

Detail of the apse of the Florence Cathedral - Florence, Italy This section of the building corresponds to the area of the sacristy and apse of the cathedral, which, just as the Cathedral of Pisa and many other Christian temples is oriented towards the East, following the east-west liturgical axis. This classical orientation has exceptions such as St. Peter’s basilica in the Vatican, which has the opposite orientation, or the Barcelona Cathedral and Notre-Dame of Paris, which have a south-east orientation.

Little angel with Dolphin in the Palazzo Vecchio

Photo of the statute entitled "Putto with Dolphin" by Andrea del Verrocchio, next to which you can also see the stucco decorated columns of the Palazzo’s first courtyard. Little angel with Dolphin in the Palazzo Vecchio - Florence, Italy

Quadripartite ribbed vault in the Palazzo Vecchio

Quadripartite ribbed vault in the Palazzo Vecchio - Florence, Italy All the walls and ribbed vaults in the first courtyard of the "Old Palace" are decorated with frescoes, many of which are in reference to Austria, since they were painted on the occasion of the wedding between Francesco I de’ Medici and the Archduchess Joanna of Austria.

Giotto's Bell Tower next to the Florence Cathedral

Giotto's Bell Tower next to the Florence Cathedral - Florence, Italy In this photo you can appreciate the artistical and architectural consistency across the campanile and the cathedral. The white, red and green inlaid marble, as well as the geometric shapes, stylistically unite the campanile with the adjacent cathedral.

Florence Cathedral façade

A closer view of the façade where you can see the rose window better, as well as the statues of 6 out of the 12 apostles, and those of Mary and Jesus. This layout is similar to the one in Notre-Dame de Paris, in that the façade is decorated with a series of statues below the rose window, like the gallery of the kings of Judah in Notre-Dame.

Florence Cathedral façade
Florence Cathedral façade

Giotto's Campanile

Giotto's Campanile - Florence, Italy The famous bell tower of Florence, a project designed and started by Giotto di Bondone, although upon his death it was continued by Andrea Pisano, and lastly completed by Francesco Talenti in 1359.

Gothic vaults of Palazzo Vecchio

Gothic vaults of Palazzo Vecchio - Florence, Italy Ribbed vaults decorated with frescoes in the first courtyard of the "Old Palace" of Florence.

Hercules and Centaur Nessus sculpture

Hercules and Centaur Nessus sculpture - Florence, Italy Another of the sculptures in the "Loggia della Signoria" (or "Loggia dei Lanzi"), a work by the Flemish sculptor Jean Boulogne, also known as Giambologna.

Side door of the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore

Side door of the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore - Florence, Italy North door of the cathedral’s nave, demarcated by two columns supported by lions. The wooden door features low-reliefs portraying a lamb with a cross, the symbol of "OPA," an organization within the medieval Florentine Guild of Wool, responsible for supervising and protecting the works ("Opere") of the cathedral; this symbol can also be seen throughout the works of the Miracle Square ("Piazza dei Miracoli") in Pisa.

Apsidiole of the Florence Cathedral

Apsidiole of the Florence Cathedral - Florence, Italy A south apsidiole and its dome.

Brunelleschi's dome and apsidiole in Santa Maria del Fiore

Brunelleschi's dome and apsidiole in Santa Maria del Fiore - Florence, Italy Night photo of the octagonal base of Brunelleschi’s dome and an apsidiole in the south part of the Duomo.

Brunelleschi's dome of the Florence Cathedral

Brunelleschi's dome of the Florence Cathedral - Florence, Italy Daytime photo of Brunelleschi’s dome and south apsidiole.

Interior of the first courtyard in Palazzo Vecchio

Interior of the first courtyard in Palazzo Vecchio - Florence, Italy This is the front view of the previously shown sculpture entitled "Putto with Dolphin" by Andrea del Verrocchio.

Statue of David in Michelangelo square

Statue of David in Michelangelo square - Florence, Italy Bronze replica of the David by Michelangelo in piazzale Michelangelo, south of the Arno.

Fountain of Neptune in Piazza della Signoria

A giant Neptune on a carriage holding what appears to be a scroll, surrounded by humans below and anthropomorphic aquatic creatures made of a contrasting bronze material. This is a work by Bartolomeo Ammannati of the 16th century, and is located next to the Old Palace ("Palazzo Vecchio"). Fountain of Neptune in Piazza della Signoria - Florence, Italy

Pond in the Giardino della Fortezza

Pond in the Giardino della Fortezza - Zaandam, Netherlands The pond in the garden next to the "Fortezza da Basso" to the north of the train station Santa Maria Novella.

Fortezza da Basso

Fortezza da Basso - Florence, Italy A defensive fortress of 1536 commissioned by Alessandro de’ Medici.

Patroclus and Menelaus in the Loggia della Signoria

Patroclus and Menelaus in the Loggia della Signoria - Florence, Italy Menelaus holding Patroclus’ body, a scene from the Trojan War. It has also been postulated that this sculpture of Hellenistic style might represent Ajax supporting Achilles.

Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Gallery - Florence, Italy The "Uffizi" or Offices Gallery was built in the late sixteenth century as administrative offices for the city of Florence, it became a receptacle for many works of art belonging to the Medici, and by the eighteenth century it became a public museum. In the center you can also see part of the Vasarian Corridor which goes through the museum.

Brunelleschi's dome, lantern and north façade of the cathedral

Brunelleschi's dome, lantern and north façade of the cathedral - Florence, Italy The lantern on top of the dome was completed by the architect Michelozzo in 1461.

The Abduction of Polyxena of 1865

The Abduction of Polyxena of 1865 - Florence, Italy In this other photo of the sculpture you can better see Polydoros’ dead body and Hecuba trying to rescue Polyxena from the hands of Neoptolemus, son of Achilles.

Detail of the right side of the Florence Cathedral front façade

Detail of the right side of the Florence Cathedral front façade - Florence, Italy In this night picture you can see the right portal by Giuseppe Cassioli, one of the side rose windows, and Giotto’s Campanile or Bell Tower.

Detail of the Palazzo Vecchio façade

Detail of the Palazzo Vecchio façade frontispiece - Florence, Italy In this photo you can see the ornamental marble above the main entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, or "Palazzo Della Signoria", with the fleur-de-lis (the emblem of Florence), one of the two lions, the solar disc with the Christogram YHS (monogram of Jesus) and the inscription "REX REGUM ET DOMINUS DOMINANTIUM" (King of kings and Lord of lords).

This marble frontispiece in the Palazzo Vecchio is a vestige from turbulent Renaissance times in the Republic of Florence, and its inscriptions were used to communicate decisions about the city’s sovereignty. In 1527, the Medici were arduously disputing with other factions to preserve the power they had regained in 1512, and maintained during the papacy of Leo X (Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici). But this power struggle was not limited to Florence; in the same year, 1527, in Rome, the pope Clement VII (Giulio de’ Medici) took shelter in the Sant’Angelo Castle, after Carlos I of Spain besieged Rome and vanquished the papal Swiss military guard. In the meantime, the Council of the Republic of Florence was deciding the sovereignty of Florence, and the Christogram and inscription were placed as the frontispiece of the Palazzo Vecchio after one of their voting sessions, in order to declare Christ as their king and therefore symbolically eliminate the authority of the Medici, affirming the sovereignty of the Republic, and pacifying the populace. Although such decisions would not last for long, since after some agreements in 1532, the pope Clement VII was back in power and placed Alessandro de’ Medici in charge of the city as Duke of Florence, and the Republic is dissolved.

According to Modesto Rastrelli in his book "Illustrazione Istorica Del Palazzo Della Signoria detto inoggi il Palazzo Vecchio" [*] of 1792, the original inscription was "YHS, XPS, REX" in golden letters, then spelled in Latin as "Jesus Christus Rex Florentini" (Jesus Christ, King of Florence). XPS is a variant of the Christogram using Greek letters (χριστός = Christus = Christ). But it would be modified in the 19th century; nowadays only the first Christogram can be seen, YHS, with the solar rays, characteristic symbols of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuit order, together with the inscription mentioned previously, which can be seen in the photo.

[*] "Historical Illustration of the Palazzo della Signoria, now known as Palazzo Vecchio"

Giotto's Bell tower

Giotto's Bell tower - Florence, Italy An extreme view of the imposing bell tower by Giotto di Bondone in piazza del Duomo.

Panoramic view of Florence

A photo of the historic center of Florence from Michelangelo square ("Piazzale Michelangelo"), to the south of the Arno, which features, from left to right, the Old Bridge ("Ponte Vecchio"), the Old Palace ("Palazzo Vecchio"), Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Duomo or Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, the National Central Library of Florence (the building with two towers overlooking the river), and the Basilica of the Holy Cross ("Basilica di Santa Croce").

Panoramic view of Florence
Panoramic view of Florence

Media (40)

Dome of the Cathedral of Florence - ThumbnailThe city of Florence - ThumbnailFaçade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore - ThumbnailDetail of the façade of the Florence Cathedral - ThumbnailGiotto’s Bell tower and Florence Cathedral façade by day - ThumbnailGiotto’s Campanile and Florence Cathedral façade by night - ThumbnailThe Abduction of Polyxena - ThumbnailSanta Maria del Fiore from the streets of Florence - ThumbnailPonte Vecchio by day - ThumbnailPonte Vecchio by night - ThumbnailJewelry stores in Ponte Vecchio - Florence ⚜Palazzo Vecchio by night - Florence ⚜Bicycle of a store in the streets of Florence - Florence ⚜Palazzo Vecchio tower by day - Florence ⚜Detail of the façade of Palazzo Vecchio - Florence ⚜Detail of the apse of the Florence Cathedral - Florence ⚜Little angel with Dolphin in the Palazzo Vecchio - Florence ⚜Quadripartite ribbed vault in the Palazzo Vecchio - Florence ⚜Giotto’s Bell Tower next to the Florence Cathedral - Florence ⚜Florence Cathedral façade - Florence ⚜Giotto’s Campanile - Florence ⚜Gothic vaults of Palazzo Vecchio - Florence ⚜Hercules and Centaur Nessus sculpture - Florence ⚜Side door of the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore - Florence ⚜Apsidiole of the Florence Cathedral - Florence ⚜Brunelleschi’s dome and apsidiole in Santa Maria del Fiore - Florence ⚜Brunelleschi’s dome of the Florence Cathedral - Florence ⚜Interior of the first courtyard in Palazzo Vecchio - Florence ⚜Statue of David in Michelangelo square - Florence ⚜Fountain of Neptune in Piazza della Signoria - Florence ⚜Pond in the Giardino della Fortezza - Florence ⚜Fortezza da Basso - Florence ⚜Patroclus and Menelaus in the Loggia della Signoria - Florence ⚜Uffizi Gallery - Florence ⚜Brunelleschi’s dome, lantern and north façade of the cathedral - Florence ⚜The Abduction of Polyxena of 1865 - Florence ⚜Detail of the right side of the Florence Cathedral front façade - Florence ⚜Detail of the Palazzo Vecchio façade - Florence ⚜Giotto’s Bell tower - Florence ⚜Panoramic view of Florence - Florence ⚜
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