Florence is the capital and most populous city of the Tuscany region in Central Italy. It’s considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance art movement and you can feel the influence of its most famous artists in every part of the city.
Back in the Middle Ages, Florence was one of the biggest cities in Europe and one of the wealthiest as well. Therefore, the city has been given the nickname “The Athens of the Middle Ages” by some historians.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most famous buildings in Florence, structures that define a period in which some of the greatest minds in history were at play!
1. Florence Cathedral
Florence Cathedral was originally known as the “Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore,” or “Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower.”
It’s one of the most fascinating landmarks in the city and has a wonderful dome.
This magnificent church was completed by the founding father of Renaissance architecture Filippo Brunelleschi.
It’s his most famous work and its most prominent feature that can be seen from anywhere in the city.
Official website: Duomo Firenze
2. Pitti Palace
The Pitti Palace, better known as the “Palazzo Pitti,” is one of the most fascinating palaces in the world.
This magnificent structure is located just south of the River Arno on a small hill overlooking the historical center of the city.
Most of the palace was completed in the 15th century but it was expanded when it became the property of the Medici family in the 16th century in the Renaissance architectural style.
It currently houses a museum with numerous Renaissance paintings, an attraction in Florence you should visit while you’re in the city.
Official website: Pitti Palace
3. Piazza della Signoria
The Piazza della Signoria is the most famous square in Florence and the historical heart of the city.
The square is L-shaped and is just walking distance away from Florence Cathedral and other famous Florence landmarks.
It has been the political heart since the birth of the Florentine Republic in the early 12th century
Today, it is still considered to be the most important square in the city and a great place to start your journey in Florence.
4. Palazzo Vecchio
The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of the city of Florence and one of the city’s most iconic structures.
Just in front of the building, we can find a copy of Michelangelo’s David, arguably one of the most famous sculptures ever created.
This is exactly the location where the original statue, which was supposed to decorate the roof of Florence Cathedral, was placed.
The building used to go by various other names and received its current name when the Medici Family permanently moved to the Pitti Palace in the 16th century.
Today, a museum with a lot of info about the history of Florence is located within the building.
Official website: Palazzo Vecchio
5. Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio is one of the most remarkable bridges in the world and is one of the ultimate symbols of the city.
The shops that were built on top of the bridge used to be occupied by butchers and farmers.
This has changed, and they are currently used by jewelers and souvenir shops.
The bridge and its surroundings are one of the most picturesque places in all of Florence and a must-visit attraction in Florence.
6. Uffizi Gallery
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous and popular museums in the world and one of the first modern museums in the world as well.
It welcomes well over 4 million visitors a year and simply has to be on your bucket list during your stay in Florence.
It’s located in the area of the Palazzo Vecchio and houses some of the most famous paintings of the Renaissance.
Some of the highlights of the museum include some of the works of da Vinci, Botticelli, and a painting by Michelangelo called Doni Tondo.
Official website: Uffizi Gallery
7. Florence Baptistery
The Florence Baptistery is an octagonal religious building in the center of Florence, right across from Florence Cathedral.
It’s one of the oldest buildings in the city as it was constructed between 1059 and 1128 in the Florentine Romanesque style.
One of the most fascinating features of the building is the 3 large bronze doors that feature relief sculptures.
Michelangelo once described these doors as the “Gates of Paradise,” and that’s not the only reason why these works of art have become one of the most popular attractions in Florence.
Official website: Florence Baptistery
8. Basilica of San Lorenzo
The Basilica of San Lorenzo is another amazing church in the heart of Florence and is situated just a short walk away from the main cathedral in the city.
The structure was commissioned by the Medici family and completed in the year 1459.
It’s another building that was originally designed by Filippo Brunelleschi but was only completed after his death in 1446.
The complex features the Old Sacristy, the New Sacristy, the Medici Chapels, and the Laurentian library, a historic library that was designed by Michelangelo.
Official website: Basilica of San Lorenzo
9. Ospedale degli Innocenti
The Ospedale degli Innocenti, also known as “Hospital of the Innocents,” is another fascinating structure in the heart of Florence.
It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in the early 15th century and serves as a small museum today.
The building was originally used as a children’s orphanage and is considered to be the first foundling hospital in Europe.
The most prominent feature of the building is the loggia facing the square which consists of 9 bays. This was a revolutionary architectural novelty at the time.
Official website: Ospedale degli Innocenti
Orsanmichele translates to “Kitchen Garden of St. Michael” and is another remarkable church in the center of Florence
It’s just a short walk north from the Piazza della Signoria and it was originally built as a grain market in the early 14th century.
The building was transformed into a church in the late 14th century by the most powerful guilds in the city at the time.
Apart from completely redesigning the building, 14 niches were carved into the exterior as well.
These ended up being filled with statues by some of the most renowned sculptors in the city, including for example the statue of Saint Mark by Donatello.
11. Pazzi Chapel
The Pazzi Chapel is another masterpiece of Renaissance architecture designed by Filippo Brunelleshi, a man who made a permanent mark on the city of Florence.
The chapel is located in the so-called “first cloister” of the Basilica di Santa Croce, one of the many famous churches in the city.
The chapel was built with funds from the Pazzi family between 1442 and 1443, just a few years before the renowned Renaissance architect died.
It’s believed that the chape was built to emphasize the power of the Pazzi family in the city, something that worked out remarkably well.
12. Basilica di Santo Spirito
Basilica di Santo Spirito is another prime example of Renaissance architecture in Florence, and as you guessed, it was constructed to a plan made by Brunelleschi.
The architect didn’t live to see the building completed in the 15th century but his followers followed his plans accurately.
The church is located in the southern part of the city, just south of the River Arno. This was a rough neighborhood at the time of construction.
The façade designed by Brunelleshi was never completed and has remained completely blank until today.