One of the most visited sights to see in Florence, the Uffizi Palace is certainly an architectural masterpiece, hosting numerous works of art of unestimated value. The Uffizi, meaning “judicial magistrate“, was aimed to house the 13 administrative jurisdictions, which at the time were found in Palazzo Vecchio, located in Piazza della Signoria, which had become too small to hold them all. The job was commissioned to Giorgio Vasari by the Grand Duke Cosimo I of the Medici family in the mid 1500′s. In order to build this palace, the nearby church of San Pier Scheraggio was almost completely demolished preserving only its central aisle. Vasari died before his project was completed and the work passed on to Bernardo Buontalenti. Buontalenti carried out the Tribune in 1584 and the Medici Theatre in 1586. The theater hosted many famous performances as well as serving as the seat of the senate while Florence was the capital of Italy.
Around the same time, Franceso I, son of Cosimo, decided to transform the Palace into a museum on the site of the old Court Theatre built by Buontalenti, closing the second floor with large windows. The theater was demolished in 1889 and today occupies two floors, which include the Gallery of Prints and Drawings. The Palace consists of two parallel main bodies conjoined by a large corridor with six high arched windows that overlook the Arno River and the courtyard. A portico, sustained by pillars, runs along the entire length of the Palace and its niches are lined with famous Florentine statues; representations from the middle ages up to the 19th century.
This famous museum Uffizi Gallery, hosted inside Uffizi Palace, is one of the most admired and visited museums in the world housing great works of art and history from the 13th to the 18th centuries by both Italian and foreign artists. Its four centuries of history make the Uffizi Gallery the oldest museum in the world. The museum was originated Francesco Medici, who felt the desire to have something to admire during his walks, and covers an area of approximately 8,000 square meters. He closed the second floor with huge windows and then there arranged part of the Grand Ducal collection, which included classical statues, medals, jewelry, weapons, paintings, and scientific instruments..
It was also the first museum ever to be opened to the public when the Grand Duke granted permission to visit it in 1591. The Medici’s were untiring collectors, constantly enriching the Gallery throughout the years adding important collections like that from the inheritance left by Ferdinand II mother, Vittoria della Rovere (1631). A collection of Self-portraits can be found exhibited today in the Vasari Corridor linking the Uffizi to the royal Pitti Palace.
Other acquisitions to the gallery came from Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici (1617-1675), which created the basis of the Gallery of Prints and Drawings, found on the first floor, containing a vast collection of drawings by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Pontormo, Vasari, and others. Three of the powerful wooden trusses that held up the ceiling were brought to light in 1978 and can be seen today in the Room of Botticelli. The exhibition rooms are now composed of over 45 rooms containing about 1.700 paintings, 300 sculptures, 46 tapestries and 14 pieces of furniture and/or ceramics. The Uffizi owns about 4.800 works, the remainder of which are either in storage or on loan to other museums.