Dear art lover and tireless explorer of cities rich in history, this post is for you and will lead you to the discovery of a treasure trove of art and architecture in the heart of Florence: the magnificent Loggia dei Lanzi. Located in Piazza della Signoria, surrounded by the prestigious Uffizi Palace and Palazzo Vecchio, this extraordinary medieval construction is an authentic open-air museum. Immersed in the majesty of statues sculpted by the great artists of the past, we will explore the history and secrets of this unique place, where art and culture come together in a timeless embrace.
The Loggia dei Lanzi: an open-air museum in the heart of Florence
Exploring the Loggia dei Lanzi, one of the most fascinating places in Florence, you will discover one of the many wonders this city has to offer. If you want to find out what else you can admire in the surroundings, don’t miss the guide on What to see in Florence to make your trip an unforgettable experience.
THE HISTORY OF THE LOGGIA DEI LANZI
The Loggia dei Lanzi, built between 1376 and 1382, had a noble purpose: to host public assemblies and official ceremonies of the Florentine Republic. Although an example of Gothic-style architecture, the presence of round arches reveals a Renaissance influence, which also inspired the illustrious Brunelleschi for the construction of the Spedale degli Innocenti in Piazza Santissima Annunziata.
Over time, the Loggia lost its original function and became an open-air museum that continues to enchant visitors from all over the world. Between its arches, it houses exceptional sculptural works from the classical age, a priceless treasure within the reach of all.
LEGENDS AND NAMES OF THE LOGGIA DEI LANZI
The mysterious and fascinating atmosphere of the Loggia dei Lanzi is shrouded in legends. One says that in 1527 Charles V’s Lanzichenecchi camped under its arches before heading to Rome. Others, however, suggest that the Lanzichenecchi were part of Duke Alessandro de’ Medici’s guard and found refuge under the Loggia for defensive purposes. However, the name ‘Loggia dei Lanzi’ may also derive from the lances used by the soldiers of the Guard. There is considerable confusion over the Loggia’s authorship: sometimes also called ‘Loggia della Signoria,’ reference is made to Andrea Cione, known as Orcagna, but the building was actually constructed by the brothers Benci and Simone Talenti.
WORKS TO BE ADMIRED
Fascinating with its grandeur, the Loggia dei Lanzi offers us a wide range of sculptural masterpieces. One of its most famous pieces is ‘Perseus,’ an imposing bronze statue more than three metres high, by the master Benvenuto Cellini. Perseus, depicted in a heroic gesture, lifts the severed head of the terrible Medusa, in a political metaphor symbolising the power of the Duke who ‘cuts off’ the head of the republic. Perseus’ helmet discreetly conceals Cellini’s self-portrait, a secret behind the work.
Another priceless treasure is the ‘Rape of the Sabine Women‘ by the sculptor Giambologna. The monumental marble group depicts the legendary episode of Romulus, who abducted the Sabine women to found Rome. The sinuous forms of the characters, developed vertically, capture the attention of every observer, who can admire the sculpture from any angle. Giambologna’s Model of the Rape of the Sabine Women is housed in the Accademia Gallery in Florence.
Among the other wonders of the Loggia dei Lanzi is Pio Fedi’s ‘Rape of Polyxena‘, a modern sculpture that blends harmoniously with the works of great masters such as Cellini and Giambologna. This sculptural group depicts the despair of Polyxena, Priam’s youngest daughter, who is abducted by Neoctolemus, son of Achilles, while her mother mourns her disappearance.
OPENING OF THE LOGGIA DEI LANZI TO THE PUBLIC
A particularly interesting aspect of the Loggia dei Lanzi is its accessibility to everyone. Admission is free and the Loggia is open every day, at all hours, to allow anyone to immerse themselves in the art and beauty it holds. However, to ensure a pleasant and peaceful visit, access is restricted, allowing only a small group of 10 people to enter at a time.
The Loggia dei Lanzi stands like a precious gem in the heart of the city and one of the must-see museums in Florence, offering the world the opportunity to appreciate the sculptural art of the past and immerse itself in the rich history of this extraordinary city.
With its legends, artistic treasures and hospitality to the public, the Loggia dei Lanzi continues to be a landmark for art and culture, an eternal testimony to the priceless heritage of humanity. A must-see for all lovers of art and history, a magical place where past and present embrace.