YOUR FLORENCE EXPERIENCE

FINE ARTS AND
CULTURE ACADEMY

The Tower of Palazzo Vecchio

08-12-2018

Palazzo Vecchio, with its high tower is one of the symbols of Florence, and the tower, which stands 95 meters high above the roofs of the city, is what marks the location of the ancient Palazzo della Signoria even from afar.
The tower of Arnolfo was built at the beginning of the fourteenth century by Arnolfo di Cambio, architect of the Duomo and the Santa Croce church, on a pre-existing structure.
In this period, the tower-houses of the palaces were a symbol of prestige, built to demonstrate the power of the family to which they belonged and the city was studded with them.
The tower of the Palazzo dei Priori, now Palazzo Vecchio, was built by raising the tower of the Foraboschi family, which is why it is out of the center of the building; thus becoming the highest in the city. This goal was not difficult to achieve in any case, because in the same period, as written in the chronicle of Giovanni Villani the 'good men of Florence' raised and chased the podestà putting an end to an oppressive government of Ghibelline faction, and they created a new government with new laws.
The height of Palazzo Vecchio’s tower also had a defensive function, it was useful to better spot the enemies and prepare to defend the city's government.
On its top there are swallow-tailed battlements, which symbolize the Ghibelline faction, and inside it was placed, until 1530, the bell called "del Popolo", precisely because its tolling served to call the people to fight.
The tower of Arnolfo is renowned above all for the presence of the Alberghetto cell, first the place of imprisonment of Cosimo de’ Medici in 1433, and later of Girolamo Savonarola on the eve of its execution in 1498.
Of particular importance is the clock on the facade of the tower, the first public clock, and also the first mechanical clock of Florence. It was built in 1353 by Niccolò Bernardo who owned a shop in via Albertinelli, which has since been renamed via dell'Oriuolo, a word that means clock in ancient Florentine dialect. At the top of the tower we find a weathervane in the shape of a rampant lion, the Marzocco, symbol of the power of Florence, and a curiosity related to this particular architectural element will certainly rob you of a smile. Once again demonstrating the irreverent Florentine spirit, a proverb says: "when the lion pisses in the Arno, it's water ", that is, when the weathervane is facing the Arno, rain is expected.
Inside the tower, 233 steps lead to the top, but the effort spent will be worth it: the view from up there is truly spectacular!

Apply now