on October 13, 2007
The Uffizi palace was designed and begun in 1560 by the architect Giorgio Vasari in the period when Cosimo de' Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany, was bureaucratically consolidating his recent takeover of power. Built in the shape of a horseshow extending from Piazza della Signoria to the Arno River and linked by a bridge over the street with Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi were intended to house the administrative offices (Uffizi) of the Grand Duchy. From the beginning, however, the Medici set aside a few rooms on the third floor to house the finest works of their collections. The Gallery was subsequently enriched by various members of the Medici family. Two centuries later, in 1737, the palace and their collection were left to the city by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heir, and today houses one of the world's great art galleries. In its 45 rooms, the Uffizi houses not only the best of Florentine paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries, but masterpieces from other parts of Italy as well as four centuries' worth of works from leading artists in Germany, Spain and Holland. Apart from paintings, the Uffizi exhibits ancient Roman and 16th century sculpture in its frescoed corridors. Serious art lovers should visit the Uffizi at least twice. The museum is organized in chronological order from the 13th to the 18th centuries. Your first visit should cover Rooms 1-24, dedicated to the Florentine Renaissance (home to the most famous paintings). A second visit could deal with Rooms 25-45, devoted to the High Renaissance and Mannerism in Florence, with works that end in the 18th century. Visitors to the Uffizi may also visit the famous Vasari Corridor linking Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi to the Pitti Palace across Ponte Vecchio. Over 1 km long, the passage way was commissioned in 1565 by Cosimo I to celebrate the marriage of his son Francesco to Joanna of Austria and was completed in only six months. The private corridor enabled the Medici to move freely between the seat of government and their private residence without having an escort and without walking among the commoners on the street. Apart from the delightful views of the city through the corridor's circular windows, its entire length contains a selection of 17th and 18th century paintings, including a unique self-portrait collection. A visit to the corridor has to be booked in advance as only small groups are allowed, accompanied by a guide.
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