Introduction to the Uffizi Gallery
When you visit Florence, Italy, there is one thing you should never miss out on doing, and that is to tour the majestic Uffizi Gallery Museum. It is one of the oldest and finest museums in the world, housing numerous masterpieces from some of the greatest artists in history. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Italy, one of the largest museums in the world, and one of the most important Italian museums around.
It is home to priceless collections of art from the Italian Renaissance and is one of the first modern museums in the world. It has at least 2 million visitors every year and has been open to the public for more than 200 years, although it was officially called a museum only in 1865. It is located in the city of Florence, which is the capital of the Tuscan region of Italy.
In order for you to get to the Uffizi, you simply need to head to the heart of the city of Florence. It is located just beside the Piazza della Signoria and the Palazzo Vecchio.
What’s in the Uffizi Gallery?
One of the main reasons why some people come to Florence is to see the artwork that can be found in one of the most famous museums in the world, the Uffizi. The museum, which began construction in 1560 and was completed 21 years later, in 1581, is a work of art in itself.
Designed and built by Giorgio Vasari, the structure itself is a testament to his genius. Unknown to some, Vasari was also a painter, historian, and writer, with his work “Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects” being considered the foundation of modern-day historical art writing.
The building of the Uffizi was first intended for use as the offices of the magistrates of Florence, hence the term “Uffizi”, which is the old Italian word for “offices”. With 3 floors, the bottom parts of the building were used as they were intended, as offices, while the top floor was turned into a gallery by the Medici family. This was used to house the collection of Roman sculptures that the family owned.
What to Expect
Also called the Galleria degli Uffizi, the museum is housed in a building that was built in 1560. It was first constructed to become the office of the legal and administrative branches of Florence, hence the name “Uffizi”, which is ancient Italian for “offices”.
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian architect, who was also a painter, historian, and writer. While he did build the Uffizi, he is more well-known for his biographies featuring famous Italian Renaissance artists. You can say he is one of the pillars of the art history world.
The building has 3 floors: the ground floor, first floor, and second floor. At the ground floor, you will find the main entrances of the museum and the ticket office. The U-shaped building’s lowest floor comes with a bookstore that also carries souvenirs for tourists to purchase. This bookstore carries not only museum guides, art history books, and books about the museum but, also children’s books.
To start your tour of the museum the right way, you are advised to head directly for the second floor and to leave the works on the first floor for after your tour of the top floor of the building. You should start your tour from the eastern side of the building, following the eastern corridor down to the second corridor then on to the western corridor. This is where the more important works of art can be found.
The first floor is where you will find collections from Spanish painters, Dutch painters, French painters, and Flemish painters. This floor is also where you will find Hellenistic statues, works from Sienese painters and Florentine painters from the 17th Century, and more.
Must-See Pieces in the Uffizi
Whether you are a historian, a student, an art aficionado, or merely a tourist in Florence, visiting the Uffizi is a must. The artwork that you will find there is like no other and includes some of the most famous and critically acclaimed pieces that you can ever find. It is home to one of the finest assemblies of Renaissance art, with some of the greatest names in art history having a few notable pieces in the collection.
Works by Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo can be found within this structure’s walls. Botticelli, Caravaggio, Fra Filippo Lippi, and Titian also all have works in this iconic museum. These are works of art that you cannot find elsewhere and is worth a day of your time when you are in town.
Aside from these masterpieces, you can also find artwork from Spanish painters, Dutch painters, French painters, and many more in some of the galleries. There are rooms dedicated to archeological pieces, to Sienese artists, Florentine artists, and early Renaissance pieces. There are also rooms that hold Greek portraits, classical art, and even maps.
Some of the most famous pieces
As mentioned earlier, the Uffizi is home to a number of masterpieces that you should not miss seeing. While there are a lot of them, and what you want to see may not be the same as the ones that others want to see, there are a few that should never be missed when you find yourself touring this majestic edifice. Here are some of the most famous and “must-not-be-missed” pieces in the museum:
La Primavera by Botticelli – This painting was made for the cousin of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici. Said to be painted between 1477 and 1482, the painting features 8 figures in a garden with flowers afoot and overhead. The painting is said to depict Zephyrus to the right as he chases Flora, who then turns into Spring who is scattering her flowers. The figure in the middle is Venus while to the left of her are three Graces dancing, with Mercury to the leftmost side of the piece, dissipating the clouds.
The Birth of Venus by Botticelli – Probably the most popular painting by Botticelli, this work of art features the Goddess Venus standing naked on a shell, by the seashore, with the winds blowing her long hair and a shower of roses to her left. To the right of the painting is Ora, a handmaid who is waiting to dress the Goddess with a floral piece of cloth. To the left are the God of Wind, Zephyr and Aura who is said to be the personification of a lighter breeze.
Doni Tondo by Michelangelo – Another Italian artist that is world-renowned is Michelangelo, who is known for his sculptures of the David, the Pieta, and his paintings of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The Doni Tondo, which is a painting that shows the Holy Family, was made in 1507 and comes in a unique circular shape. The name itself tells you that the painting is in a round shape, with the word “tondo” meaning round in Italian.
Medusa by Caravaggio – Another round painting, or tondo as it is called, in the museum is this depiction of the mythological being with hair made of snakes called Medusa. It shows the chopped-off head of the being that can turn people into stone with a single look. This is a painting that people easily associate with the museum, alongside the Birth of Venus.
Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio – One of the earliest works of da Vinci, which is said to be a collaborative piece between his master Verrocchio and himself, is the Annunciation. The painting depicts the Virgin Mary being visited by Angel Gabriel, being told that she will carrying the son of God and that she will name him Jesus. This painting was said to have been completed between 1472 and 1475.
These are just a few of the hundreds of masterpieces that you can find in the Uffizi Gallery. Other pieces that should not be missed here include the Madonna and Child of Fra Filippo Lippi, The Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci, Self Portrait as a Young Man by Rembrandt, and Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael, to mention but a few.
Take a Walk Back in Time with Artwork from the Past
What better way to view the past than in the artwork that was created in those eras? History comes alive with the many paintings, sculptures, and pieces that were made by notable names in art in their specific styles. Art pieces from the 13th century to the 18th century can be found here, showcasing 500 years of priceless and irreplaceable art from names that are known the world over.
Catch a glimpse of how ancient Rome and Greece were both like with the archeological collection found in this building. Marvel at the architecture of the structure itself, designed and built by an artist and genius. Take a walk back in time by simply exploring the many halls that hold all of these pieces that show you the artistry, passion, and vision of those that lived hundreds of years in the past.
No Trip to Florence is Complete Without a Visit to the Uffizi
It is one of the most popular museums in the world and is more than worthy of your time. Take a guided tour of the Uffizi if you want to find out more about the artwork that you find there. If you would rather enjoy these pieces in silence, grab a guidebook from the gift shop at the ground floor and make your way around the halls on your own, starting at the second floor where all the most important pieces can be found.
Visitors who have been to the Uffizi in the past know that when you are in Florence, giving time to explore and enjoy the wonderful works of art within is a must. No trip to this Italian city is complete without admiring the many timeless masterpieces that can only be found here. With numerous halls filled with such majestic pieces, you are sure to fill an entire day with color, history, and wonder at the talent that has contributed to the collection found within this building.