Historic Centre of Florence

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Historic Centre of Florence
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Architectural, artistic
Criteria C (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (vi)
Reference 174
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1982 (6th Session)

The historic centre of Florence is part of quartiere 1 of the Italian city of Florence. This quarter was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.

Built on the site of an Etruscan settlement, Florence, the symbol of the Renaissance, rose to economic and cultural pre-eminence under the Medici in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its 600 years of extraordinary artistic activity can be seen above all in the 13th-century cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore), the Church of Santa Croce, the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace, the work of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo.[1]

1835 City Map of Florence, still largely in the confines of its medieval city center.


Closed inside the avenues traced on the old medieval walls, the historic centre of Florence collects the city's most important cultural heritage sites. Delimited by the 14th century wall circuit, built thanks to the economic and commercial power reached at the time, knew its maximum splendor in the following two centuries.

Spiritual center of the city is Piazza del Duomo with the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, flanked by Giotto's Campanile and facing the Baptistry of Saint John with the 'Gates of Paradise' by Lorenzo Ghiberti. From here to the north there are the Palazzo Medici Riccardi by Michelozzo, the Basilica of Saint Lawrence by Filippo Brunelleschi, with the precious sacristies of Donatello and Michelangelo. Furthermore, the Museum of San Marco with masterpieces by Fra Angelico, the Accademia Gallery which houses among other works the David by Michelangelo (1501–1504), and the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata with the Loggia of the Innocenti by Filippo Brunelleschi.

Heading south from the Duomo there is the political and cultural center of Florence with Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery nearby, near which are the Bargello Museum and the Basilica of the Holy Cross. Crossing the Ponte Vecchio we arrive at the Oltrarno district with the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. Still in Oltrarno, there are the Basilica of the Holy Spirit by Filippo Brunelleschi and the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, with frescoes by Masolino, Masaccio and Filippino Lippi.

In the area west of the Duomo is situated the imposing palace Palazzo Strozzi (home of major exhibitions and cultural institutions) and the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, with the facade designed by Leon Battista Alberti.

The old town can be appreciated in its entirety from the surrounding hills, especially from Forte Belvedere, from the Piazzale Michelangelo with the Romanesque Basilica of San Miniato al Monte and the hills of Fiesole, which offers one of the most beautiful views of the Arno valley.

The northern part of the old town is surrounded by the avenues of Viali di Circonvallazione, a series of large six-lane avenues inspired by Parisian boulevard created when Florence was the capital of Italy.

The center of Florence, with its hundreds of business activities is a paradise for shopping and entertainment: elegant boutiques, historic cafes, the lively street markets, as well as hosting numerous nightclubs, discos, American-bar and meeting places for a drink (the famous Negroni cocktail was born here).


In 1982 ICOMOS proposed the historic centre of Florence as a candidate World Heritage Site with the following motivations:[2]

ICOMOS would underscore the fact that the historic centre of Florence responds to nearly all the criteria defined by the Convention.
  • Criterium 1: the urban complex of Florence is in itself a unique artistic realization, a chef-d'oeuvre absolute, the fruit of a continuous creation over more than six centuries. Leaving aside its museums (the Archaeological Museum, Uffizi, Bargello, Pitti, Galleria dell'Accademia, etc.), the greatest concentration of universally renowned works of art in the world is found here- the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery and the Campanile of Giotto, Piazza della Signoria dominated by Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo Uffizi, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce and the Pazzi chapel, the Convent of San Marco which houses paintings of Fra Angelico, Santo Spirito, San Miniato, etc...
  • Criterium 2: Since the Quattrocento, Florence has exerted a predominate influence on the development of architecture and the monument arts- first in Italy, and throughout Europe: the artistic principles of the Renaissance were defined there from the beginning of the 15th century by Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio. It was in the Florentin milieu that two universal geniuses of the arts- Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo- were formed and asserted.
  • Criterium 3: the historic centre of Florence attests in an exceptional manner, and by its unique coherence, to its power as a merchant-city of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance. From its past, Florence had preserved entire streets, fortified palaces (Palazzo Spini, Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo della Signoria), logge (Loggia del Bigallo, Loggia dei Lanzi, Loggia degli Innocenti and del Mercato Nuovo), fountains, a marvellous bridge of the 14th century lined with shops, the Ponte Vecchio. Various trades, organized into prosperous arte have left several monuments such as the Or San Michele.
  • Criterium 4: Florence, a first-rate economic and political power in Europe from the 14th to the 17th century was covered during that period with prestigious buildings which translated the munificence of the bankers and the princes: Palazzo Rucellai, Palazzo Strozzi, Palazzo Gondi, Palazzo Riccardi-Medici, Palazzo Pandolfini, Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens- as well as the sacristy of San Lorenzo, the funerary chapel of the Medicis, and the Biblioteca Laurenziana, etc.
  • Criterium 5: Florence is materially associated with events of a universal importance. It was in the milieu of the Neo-platonic Academia that the concept of the Renaissance was forged. Florence is the birthplace of modern humanism inspired by Landino, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, etc...

See also


External links


  1. "Historic Centre of Florence". UNESCO. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  2. "Advisory Body Evaluation" (PDF). UNESCO. Retrieved 18 September 2014.

Coordinates: 43°46′23.016″N 11°15′22″E / 43.77306000°N 11.25611°E / 43.77306000; 11.25611

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