In the heart of Florence lies Galleria degli Uffizi, also known as Uffizi Gallery , one of the world’s finest and oldest art galleries.It houses masterpieces from Leonardo’s times and its curation of paintings and sculptures will have art lovers weak in the knees. To put its merit to perspective, it is safe to say that it ranks right up with the Louvre in Paris and The Metropolitan Museum in New York. It is the second most visited museum in Italy, second to the Vatican Museum in Rome and though majority of the works here are chiefly Italian Renaissance masterpieces, it also houses a commendable collection of classical sculptures.
In 1560, Cosimo I de' Medici, the second Duke of Florence commissioned Giorgio Vasari, his favourite architect to design a building for administrative and judicial purposes , hence lending to the name “Uffizi” – Office. After his death in 1574, the new duke, Francis I, commissioned Bernardo Buontalenti to convert the top floor of the Uffizi into a repository for the art treasures amassed by the Medici family from the 13th century. Every member of the dynasty thus expanded the collection until the dynasty perished in 1743, after which the collection was left to the state of Tuscany. The Uffizi finally opened doors the public after repeated request in 1765 and exactly hundred years later in 1865, it was formally coined a museum.
Clocking in over two million visitors yearly, the Uffizi Gallery is ranked amongst the Top 5 things to do in Florence by Tripadvisor. In its U-shaped frescoed labyrinth, you are transported to the Renaissance era of Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello, admiring their original works in all its splendour and glory. The Uffizi Gallery was built by the famous Renaissance architect Giorgio Vasari and commissioned by Cosimo I de’Medici way back in 1559. The most mind boggling part of Uffizi Gallery is that, the entire curation is the private collection of just the Medici family , and only a part that too. There are more priceless pieces of art tucked away in other parts of the museum which is not open to public viewing! In short, what began with a collection of artwork influential Medici family is now a world-class museum!
The Uffizi Gallery is spread over 3 floors and and here’s a basic floor plan of the Uffizi Gallery that will help you navigate around the museum with better ease. It is best to start from the top floor as it holds the important works and consumes maximum time to cover and then find your way down.
The ticket office and bookstore is located on this floor. If you’re interested in glancing through books on art, history, museum guides and picking up souvenirs, you can visit this shop located bang opposite the entrance. You will be passing this bookstore cum souvenir shop on your way to the exit, so you can walk through here on your way out too.
This floor has many interesting halls and temporary exhibits. You will see the Cabinet of Prints and Drawings here, but you will essentially see the rest of the collection on the second floor.
This floor houses the main and most interesting halls in the museum. There are a total of 45 halls on the second floor of the Uffizi Gallery displaying art spanning from the 13th to the 18th century. At the very end of the second floor, you will find a cafe overlooking the alazzo Vecchio and the rest of the historical center of Florence. From here, you can head back to the first floor along a modern staircase to visit the recently modernized sections of the museum and subsequently to the bookstore and exit along the same path.
Hall 2 is dedicated to the 13th century Italian artist - Giotto di Bondone and houses one of his most important works the "Madonna Enthroned", also known as "Ognissanti Madonna". In this painting , Giotto has introduced Virgin Mary portrayed as a real woman with feminine form.
This masterpiece was realized between 1475 and 1480 by Leonardo da Vinci and reveals some of the typical traits of Leonardo’s earliest art, such as “reproducing” the nature inside his works. The elements of “science within art” oozing out of this painting makes it a remarkable piece.
In Hall 83, you can admire this this painting rich in allegories commissioned by the Duke of Urbino in 1538. The essence is derived from the Sleeping Venus, painted in 1510 by Giorgione and the incredible use of lights and colors by Titian reflects the sensuality of Venus’ naked body.
A masterpiece by the Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli, the "Birth of Venus" was realized between 1482 and 1485 and has become a landmark of 15th century Italian art, rich in allegorical references to classic literature. It is said that the "Birth of Venus" is an ode to the Medici, the wealthy Florentine family who commissioned the work.
The “Doni Tondo” is a XVI century Italian art and the only painting on panel by Michelangelo Buonarroti in the Uffizi Gallery. This round painting (“tondo” in Italian means round) is characterized by unnatural poses of the Mary, Joseph and Jesus with shimmery colors giving it a unique touch.