Florence is historically known as a hub of Art and Religion. Its High Renaissance movement has left a timeless imprint on this magnificent city. Let’s overview some of the richest, must-see museums in Florence.
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The Uffizi Gallery
Now one of the most famous museums in the world and home of masterpieces such as the incredibly beautiful "Birth of Venus" and "La Primavera" by Botticelli, Michelangelo’s “Holy Family”, "The Ognissanti Madonna" by Giotto, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Annunciation”; The Uffizi Gallery houses a vast collection of artworks that you couldn’t possibly visit in just one day, therefore, you will surely be coming back to take in the atmosphere of this incredible museum. It also includes masterpieces by Raphael and Caravaggio as well as Greek and Roman sculptures and statues that will leave you breathless. The Medici Collection is also featured in this magnificent museum.
Housed in a building commissioned by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de Medici, the Uffizi Gallery held the administrative and legal offices of Florence and was built between 1560 and 1580 by Giorgio Vasari.
It began shaping itself as a museum when Francesco I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, arranged its first collection of art on its second floor. Since then, it has been enriched over time by all the Dukes of Tuscany that ruled Florence. In 1769 the Gallery was opened to the public by Leopold II. To avoid being overwhelmed by its vast collection, you might consider our Uffizi Gallery guided tour.
The Academy Gallery of Florence, renowned worldwide for holding the David sculpture by Michelangelo, is one of the world’s most visited sites. It houses artworks by Sandro Botticelli, del Sarto, Lo Scheggia, Alessandro Allori as well as many more, touching upon Florentine Gothic and High Renaissance painting and including a small collection of Michelangelo sculptures that make the museum known worldwide as The Michelangelo Museum.
Founded by Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Lorraine during the XVIII century, it originally began as a teaching space for the Academy of Fine Arts. Over time, its treasures increased due to Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Lorraine and Napoleon’s art sequestrations. In 1873, Michelangelo's David became a part of its Art collection as the sculpture was transferred into the museum from Piazza Signoria. Due to the Medici Family’s passion for music and entertainment, this museum also features a collection of musical instruments from the Cherubini Conservatory. It is considerably smaller than the Uffizi Gallery and therefore much easier to visit.
From secret passages to Roman ruins, medieval fortresses and breathtaking mural paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti, this building is the timeless symbol of Florence’s nobility and the perfect location for mysterious scavenger hunts. Palazzo Vecchio was the government building of the most important families that ruled Florence, including the Medici family. It features an impressive 95-meter-high medieval tower, “Torre di Arnolfo” (Arnolfo’s tower) which can be climbed for a magnificent view of the city.
Its “Hall of the Five Hundred” features breathtaking incomplete murals such as the “Battle of Anghiari” painted by da Vinci as well as the “Battle of Cascina”, painted by none other than Michelangelo.
The chambers, residential apartments and courtyards of the Palazzo Vecchio feature precious decorations by the likes of Donatello, Michelangelo and Vasari. Full of secrets, wealth and rich history some of which incredibly intriguing, this museum is a perfect location to visit for those who love exploring mysteries.
Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens
Palazzo Pitti is a heaven of Art and Beauty. Once home to the scandalous Medici Family, it houses a vast art collection acquired by the art-loving family over the years, inside the castle’s wings you will find paintings by Rubens, Titian and Raphael featured inside the museums arranged within.
Some of the elements of the collection also beautifully featured sculptures and statues of the palaces' breathtaking Boboli Gardens. These luscious Renaissance gardens are a heavenly experience and it's easy to get lost in all of the beauty!
Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens make for a peaceful, romantic escape into the Renaissance era and its rich Art and History.
Located close to Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens, we find Florence’s very own “Sistine Chapel”, the Brancacci Chapel by Masaccio and Masolino is decorated by one of the world’s most beautiful examples of Renaissance fresco painting. Admire Masolino’s “Healing of the Cripple and Raising of Tabitha” and “Temptation” depicting Adam and Even in Paradise as well as Masaccio’s “St Peter Healing the Sick with his Shadow”, “Distribution of Alms and Death of Ananias” among its magnificent frescoes.
These masterpieces are located in the 14th century Cappella Brancacci, founded by the Brancacci family, and its unfinished scenes were subsequently completed by Filippo Lippi.
This medieval palace has been transformed into an Art Gallery that houses Florence’s temporary exhibitions. Built during the 15th century, this estate was originally home of one of the most famous families in Florence and stands as a perfect example of Renaissance architecture. The Strozzi family, exiled from Florence in 1434, was one of Florence’s most powerful families, often in competition with the Medici family. Built upon request of Filippo Strozzi, upon his return to Florence to claim his revenge, Palazzo Strozzi was intentionally designed to be larger and more impressive than Palazzo Medici.
Now a dynamic part of Florence’s Art scene, this palace features events for families, youth and adults alike to find new ways of experimenting and relating to Art.
MAF - National Archeological Museum of Florence
If you are looking to explore the ancient side of history in-depth, The Museo Archeologico di Firenze was founded by King Vittorio Emanuele II in 1871. Full of ancient Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, Roman artifacts, this museum has played an important part in defining the institution of the museum in the world. Its indoor as well as outdoor areas will take you back to the most ancient eras.
Galileo Museum of Florence
Galileo Galilei redefined the perception of the world and universe through his work, so, for those who are passionate about science and are endlessly curious to discover more about this incredible 17th-century man this museum is the perfect site. Despite encountering strong opposition from society as well as his family, Galileo persevered in his exploration of mathematics and science and succeeded in revolutionizing the way humans approach science and exploration.
Once more, the Medici family played an important part in developing yet another precious part of Florence’s heritage. The Galileo Galilei Museum was enriched and developed thanks to the Medici and Lorraine family and their interest in the sciences. The rooms of the museum feature items such as microscopes. mechanical clocks, bussolas, compasses, meridianas as well as other mathematical, meteorological and measurement instruments made by famous European artists. Best of all, it also holds the original instruments used by Galileo Galilei.
Leonardo da Vinci Museum
Follow in the footsteps of one of the world’s most celebrated geniuses by visiting the Leonardo da Vinci Museum. A perfect location to touch history with your own hands as you explore da Vinci’s mind frame and brilliant work.
The museum is divided into 5 sections. The Mechanical section features the codexes, sketches as well as research of the great master. While the other four sections are divided by the elements of nature the machines Leonardo projected handle (Earth, Air, Water, Fire). Something you will love about this museum is that you get to play with machines that were invented by Leonardo. The reconstructions will thrill you as they truly allow you to explore what this master of Science and Art was like and how his genius conceived designs by observing nature closely and adopting its principles. This Tuscan genius explored invention, anatomy, sculpture, painting, architecture and much more and so your mind will truly step into the da Vinci universe that made him one of the most famous figures of all time.
If Fashion fascinates you more than Art, then you might love visiting Florence’s most contemporary museum, The Gucci Museum was founded with fashion lovers in mind and features the brand’s evolution over the years exploring decades of designs.
Best of all, it features a restaurant you can enjoy with your fellow fashion lovers.
Home of the most beautiful museums in the world, Florence has an endlessly enriching artistic and cultural heritage and you will surely return to explore more of this spectacular city.
Written by Anamaria Maier