Facts about Florence

We found 34 facts about Florence

The cradle of the Renaissance

Florence is the capital of Tuscany and its most populated city. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the richest cities of that era. Many scientists consider it the cradle of the Renaissance, being a major artistic, cultural, commercial, political, economic, and financial center, with enormous influence in Italy, Europe, and beyond. The city is famous for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture, and many monuments. It attracts millions of tourists every year, and UNESCO has included the Historic Center of Florence on its World Heritage List. Due to its artistic and architectural heritage, in 2010 Forbes magazine recognized Florence as the most beautiful city in the world.

Florence is a city located in Tuscany, in central Italy.

It is the capital of Tuscany and its most populous city with 383.083 inhabitants (2016) and over 1.520.000 in its metropolitan area. The metropolitan area established in 2000 covers the three provinces of Florence-Prato-Pistoia.

The city is located near the Apennines, in a basin formed by the surrounding clay hills.

The Arno River (the most important river in central Italy after the Tiber) and three smaller rivers (Mugnone, Ema, and Greve) flow through it.

In the 17th century, the first meteorological station in the history of the city, and one of the first in the world, was established in Florence - Monastero degli Angeli.

It was based in the former church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in via Alfani. It acted on the orders of Grand Duke Ferdinand II de' Medici, who led to the creation of a network of detection stations, which also included the first weather station of Vallombrosa and other stations in Tuscany. She conducted meteorological observations in the years 1654-1670.

The Florentine plain and the surrounding hills have been inhabited since prehistoric times, as evidenced by archaeological finds in the area.

The first permanent settlement was a stilt village built around the 9th century BC by the Etruscans, near the Ford of the Arno. Around 150 BC The Etruscans founded the city of Fiesole near the river and built the first wooden bridge over the Arno.

During the times of Emperor Hadrian, the city was connected to Rome by the Via Cassia road.

Current Florence was founded by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for veterans and was called Fluentia, as it was founded between two rivers. Later the name was changed to Florentia, which meant "city of prosperity".

Its location along Via Cassia, the main route connecting Rome with the north, in the fertile Arno Valley, meant that the settlement quickly became an important trading center.

Around 1000, the golden age of Florentine art began.

In 1013, construction began on the Basilica of San Minato al Monte, situated atop one of the city's highest points. It is one of the most magnificent Romanesque buildings in Tuscany and one of the most picturesque churches in Italy.

The city's main resource was the Arno River (mainly for the textile industry) and access to the Mediterranean Sea (international trade).

Another resource was the city's merchant community and its merchant banking skills, which gained particular recognition in Europe. They introduced financial innovations at medieval fairs - e.g. the double-entry accounting system.

In the 15th century, Florence was one of the largest cities in Europe.

It had a population of 60.000 and was considered a wealthy and economically successful city. Florence was something of a democracy, but its power came from the extensive patronage network that the Médicis held at the time. Unofficially, they were the Pope's bankers, which gave them additional support.

One of the Medici was Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici, de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic, and the most powerful and enthusiastic patron of Renaissance culture in Italy.

Lorenzo was a great patron of art, commissioning works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Botticelli. Lorenzo himself was an accomplished poet and musician, bringing composers and singers to Florence, including Alexander Agricola, Johannes Ghiselin, and Heinrich Isaac. By contemporary Florentines, and ever since he was known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (Lorenzo il Magnifico).

In the 15th century, an important figure for Florence was Girolamo Savonarola - a Dominican, religious and political reformer, who was considered a heretic and schismatic by the Catholic Church.

Savonarola was an Italian Dominican from Ferrara, a preacher who called for Christian renewal and condemned clerical corruption, despotic rule, and exploitation of the poor. He contributed to the establishment of the Florentine Republic (after the expulsion of the Medici).

In 1512, the Medici regained control of Florence.

They were led by two cousins, Giovanni and Giulio de Medici, who later became popes of the Catholic Church (Leo X and Clement VII, respectively). Both were generous patrons of the arts, endowing works such as the Laurentian Library and the Medici Chapel.

The Laurentian Library (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana or BML) was built in the cloister of the Medici Basilica of San Lorenzo di Firenze.

The library was designed by Michelangelo and is an example of Mannerism. It contains approximately 11.000 manuscripts, 2.500 papyri, 43 ostracons (the shell of a pottery vessel, used as writing material, mainly in ancient Egypt and Greece), 566 incunabula, 1,681 prints from the 16th century, and 126,527 prints from the 17th to the 20th century.

In 1527, Jesus Christ was appointed king of Florence.

The Florentines drove out the Medici for a second time and re-established a theocratic republic.

Florence officially became a monarchy in 1531, when Emperor Charles and Pope Clement appointed Alessandro de Medici as prince of the Florentine Republic.

The Medici monarchy lasted for over two hundred years. Alessandro's successor, Cosimo I de' Medici, was created Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569. In all of Tuscany, only the Republic of Lucca and the Duchy of Piombino were independent of Florence.

At the beginning of the 19th century (1801-1807), Florence was the capital of the Napoleonic kingdom of Etruria.

It covered a large part of modern Tuscany and took its name from the Roman name of the Etruscan land.

In 1861, Tuscany became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

Florence then replaced Turin as the capital of Italy (1865). Florence remained the capital of Italy for six years when Rome became the capital of the country.

During World War II, Florence was occupied by the Germans for a year (1943-1944) and was part of the Italian Social Republic.

It was a puppet state existing in northern Italy. Created by Benito Mussolini with the help of Germany, after the overthrow of fascist rule in Italy. It was liquidated after the outbreak of the uprising, whose participants shot Mussolini.

Florence was liberated by New Zealand, South African and British troops on August 4, 1944.

Allied soldiers who died liberating Florence are buried in cemeteries outside the city.

In November 1966, there was a flood in Florence.

Arno flooded part of the center, damaging many works of art. Ponte Vecchio was flooded, and the water carried away some jewelry from the jewelry stores located there. City residents tried to fish jewelry out of the water.

Around the city, on the walls of houses, small signs are telling where the water reached.

Tourism in Florence is by far the most important of all industries, although manufacturing and trade are also very important.

Tourism added approximately €2.5 billion to the city's finances in 2015. From April to October, tourists outnumber the local population.

In 2010, Florence was voted the third favorite tourist destination, and in 2015, Condé Nast Travel readers voted it the best city in Europe.

Florence is the 17th richest city in Italy in terms of average employee earnings, with a figure of €23.265.

The city's total income is 6.531.204.473.

Florence is considered to have the greatest concentration of art (proportion to size) in the world.

The city was the birthplace of Renaissance art (1450 to 1527). Renaissance art focused on naturalism and human emotions. It was rational, mathematical, and individualistic, and consisted of a linear perspective and shading (chiaroscuro). The Renaissance marked the revival of classical values in art and society.

Florence is the city where the leading representatives of Italian painting, architecture, and sculpture lived and worked.

The following artists worked there: Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Michelangelo, Cimabue (Cenni di Pepo), Giotto, Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano, Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Paolo Uccello and others.

Their works, along with those of many other generations of artists, are collected in several museums of the city: the Uffizi Gallery, the Palatina Gallery, the Accademia Gallery, the Bargello Museum, the San Marco Museum with works by Fra Angelico, the Musée dell'Opera del Duomo, the Medici chapels, the Buonarroti house with sculptures by Michelangelo et al.

Florence is so rich in works of art that some first-time visitors experience the Stendhal syndrome.

It is a type of neurotic disorder manifested by rapid heartbeat, dizziness, disorientation, and even hallucinations in some people when they see the splendor of works of art and monuments gathered in a small space.

The Florence skyline is dominated by the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, called Il Duomo by the Italians, topped by Brunelleschi's dome.

Brunelleschi’s design involved building the largest dome ever built at the time and the first larger dome built in Europe since the two great domes of Roman times - the Pantheon in Rome and Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

The red dome of Santa Maria del Fiore remains the largest brick structure of its kind in the world.

The Galeria dell'Accademia houses Michelangelo's David - probably the most famous work of art in the world.

It is one of the most important works of Renaissance sculpture, next to the Pieta, the most famous sculpture by Michelangelo. The Statue of David is 5.17 meters high. It was made with great attention to detail, as the artist even carved the blood vessels.

In 1504, a statue of David stood next to the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria, symbolizing the freedom gained by the city's inhabitants and their readiness to defend it - it stood there for 369 years. In 1873, the statue was moved to the special Tribune of David in the Galleria dell'Accademia to protect it from pigeons and replaced by a copy that still stands there today.

The Florentine (Tuscan) dialect forms the basis of standard Italian.

It was chosen as the language that began the process of the linguistic unification of Italy. This happened thanks to the great Florentine poets: Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarch, and Giovanni Boccaccio, who worked for the Florentine culture and became the pillars of the Italian language.

In 1982, the historic center of Florence (Centro Storico di Firenze) was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The city center is surrounded by walls built in the 15th century. Within them, in Piazza della Signoria, there is the Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati, which is a masterpiece of marble sculpture and is part of a still functioning Roman aqueduct.

Most of the city was built during the Renaissance, although its layout and structure in many respects refer to Roman times (garrison settlement). In addition to Renaissance architecture, you can also find traces of medieval, baroque, classical, and modern architecture in the city.

The panorama of Florence is dominated by the city cathedral - Duomo, as well as Palazzo Vecchio - the city hall.

Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) located in Piazza della Signoria is the former seat of the city council. It was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1299. Inside the building, there is, among others: The Room of the Five Hundred (Salone dei Cinquecento), the most impressive chamber, 52 meters long and 23 meters wide, (built on Savonarola's request), accessed by a wide staircase designed by Vasari.

In 1503, two great Renaissance masters were commissioned to paint the frescoes decorating the hall: Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Their designs were never realized (Leonardo tried, unsuccessfully, to use a new method of painting frescoes, and Michelangelo left only sketches).

The Arno River, which runs through the old part of the city, is deeply embedded in the history of Florence.

It evokes two feelings in the city's inhabitants: love, because thanks to it the city developed, but also hatred because of the floods that destroyed the inhabitants' achievements.

One of the bridges over the Arno - Ponte Vecchio - stands out in particular, especially for the multitude of shops built on its edges, supported by pilings. This bridge, also called the Ponte Vecchio, is one of the most recognizable symbols of Florence, it is also the oldest bridge in the city (originally built by the Etruscans), the only one to survive World War II intact, and the oldest stone bridge in Europe.

It is the first example of a bridge built of segmental arches in the Western world.

Near Piazza della Signoria there is one of the oldest museums in Europe - the Uffizi Gallery.

The gallery's collections are dominated by paintings by the Italian and Flemish schools: Cimabue, Giotto, Duccio, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Lorenzo Monaco, Fra Filippo Lippi, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer, Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Antoon van Dyck, Giovanni Bellini et al.

Florence has numerous museums and art galleries that house some of the most important works of art in the world.

The city is one of the best-preserved Renaissance centers of art and architecture in the world, characterized by a high concentration of art, architecture, and culture. In the ranking list of the fifteen most visited Italian museums, two-thirds are represented by Florentine museums.

There are many different churches and religious buildings in Florence.

These include the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, the Basilica of Santa Croce, Basilica of San Lorenzo (burial place of all the main members of the Medici family, from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III).

Another sacred building is the Baptistery of San Giovanni, which has the status of a minor basilica. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1059 and 1128, in the Florentine-Romanesque style. The Baptistery is famous for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors with bas-reliefs.

The southern doors were created by Andrea Pisano and the northern and eastern doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Michelangelo called the eastern door - Porta del Paradiso - the Door of Paradise.

The Italian poet Dante Alighieri and many other significant Renaissance figures, including members of the Medici family, were baptized in the baptistery.

The building contains a monumental tombstone of Antipope John XXIII by Donatello.

One of Florence's tourist attractions is Fontana del Porcellino - Il Porcellino - "the piglet".

Il Porcellino is the local nickname for a bronze fountain depicting a wild boar. The figure was carved and cast by the Baroque master Pietro Tacca, shortly before 1634, based on a marble Italian copy of a Hellenistic marble original (on display in the classical section of the Uffizi Museum).

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