A living museum, Florence is famed worldwide for its concentration of impressive architecture. With palaces, churches, monuments and all in-between being some of the most impressive antique buildings around the globe. A walk amongst the ancient streets will quickly reward you with sightings of some of its architectural gems.
Coined a ‘city of the past’, during your visit, you will discover and likely pass without notice, art and architecture which is hundreds of years old. Impressive and important buildings are the heart of this metropolitan hub, and they will form the backdrop for your time here.
With so many striking structures to see, we’ve highlighted a few of our favourites, so that ahead of your trip, you have an overview of some of the best that there is!
One of Florence’s unmissable sunset spots, the Ponte Vecchio is a jewel in the city’s architectural crown. It is one of the most iconic symbols of Florence, and a must-see during your trip.
The bridge that can be admired today was built in 1345 following heavy flooding which caused the Arno River to burst its banks. Who constructed it remains a mystery, although some say that the style and construction methods used indicate the Dominican friars or Taddeo Gaddi. The Ponte Vecchio is home to a selection of shops, and it has been since the 13th-century.
In 1593, 12 years after the Corridoio Vasariano was built (a corridor that connected Pitti Palace to the Uffizi Gallery, used by the Medici family), it was instructed that the only shops to feature on the Ponte Vecchio were to be jewellers and goldsmiths.
Santa Maria del Fiore – Florence Cathedral
An unmistakable sight on the city’s skyline, the Cathedral of Florence and its remarkable dome stands tall amongst the surrounding buildings.
As one of Florence’s most renowned landmarks, its exquisite architecture more than lives up to its reputation, and from near and afar, the detail and beauty are evident.
Designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, the structure took more than 140 years to complete, and the dome, designed by Fillippo Brunelleschi, is now the largest masonry structure in the world.
The entire cathedral, both inside and out, is a masterpiece. The ornate decoration and exquisite artwork housed inside are a pleasure to admire.
Housing art from the Middle Ages through to the Modern period, the Uffizi Gallery is primarily visited for its renowned collection of art. Artists such as Simone Marini, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Botticelli have work featured here. With such masterpieces housed within the walls, it is only appropriate that the building itself is of equal brilliance.
Work began on the structure in 1560, and it was instructed by the famous Giorgio Vasari, a leading architect from the period, under the request of Granduca Francisco de’ Medici. The original intent for the building was to house administrative and legal offices for the city’s bureaucrats; it is now the most visited museum in Italy.
Palazzo Vecchio – Old Palace
Robust and mighty in its appearance, and demonstrating considerable power and force, the Palazzo Vecchio is one of the most imposing structures of Florence. Work began on the fortress in 1299, and its original use was as a residence and a place of work for the Guilds of Florence.
The architecture of the building is typically medieval, and the celebrated Arnolfo di Cambio envisioned the design. While on the inside, the rich and elaborate interior was designed by Giorgio Vasari.
Interestingly, the foundations of the Palazzo Vecchio rest upon an ancient Roman theatre, excavations on the site continue to this day, and during a visit, you can venture underground to admire the ruins.
It is also located in one of the most important squares of the city, Piazza della Signoria, which is found between the Arno River and the Duomo.
The Abbey of San Miniato al Monte
The San Miniato al Monte is the oldest church in Florence, dating to the 11th century. This significant building is said to be one of the finest examples of Romanesque structures in the region and is a must-see during your architectural tour of the city.
Connected to the Olivetan monastery, the basilica has a stunning geometric green and white marble façade, as well as outstanding views of the city, due to its elevated hillside positioning.