How Florence Evolved as an Artistic City and Became the Cradle of the Renaissance

Florence is the cradle of the Renaissance, a city that spells the magic of artworks. It’s the place to absorb art in the way their authors had in mind while creating it. In the early 15th century, with the birth of the Renaissance, Florence existed as a city-state.

Florence hosts the most famous art galleries in the world at its slow pace. The countless visitors visit Florence at any time of the year to admire the artworks of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Boticelli and others. Florence is a living museum and exploring it means getting the origins of western culture.

The Rise of the Renaissance

The Renaissance puts its seeds in Florence and the question opens up why. The various answers appear as the most influential. The core lies in the fact that Florence was the financial centre like it’s the Wall Street today. It was a hub of Italian merchants and bankers.

The pleasure for pleasure doesn’t come alone, but money gives the background most often. The wealth wasn’t a reason for itself but to enjoy life and spend for that enjoyment.

The city-state of Florence had a very respectful government considering the human rights. The citizens could participate in the government contrary to the Milan.

The desire to become knowledgeable showed the finest expressions in paintings, sculpture and architecture. The beauty became a philosophical point and self-realisation.

Humanism- The Fruit of the Renaissance

Humanism was born out of the Renaissance, which gave value to art and human beings. Humanism influenced the Renaissance in Florence and Italy, giving a new vision to society. It took into practice all the social aspects- from government to art.

Humanism gave shape to the artistic heart of Florence. Humanism put on the peak of the current life and art the virtuous guidance.

Humanism took seeds in the late 20th century but expressed the proper rise by the Florentine poet, Francesco Petrarch. His legal profession fell behind in the glory of becoming a poet and collector of ancient texts. The basis of his research were Cicero and other Roman authors.

The consequence of the Humanism movement was the appreciation of the human body. That’s one of the reasons that the famous Venus of Sandro Botticelli was portrayed in her nudity elegantly covered by long hair.

The History of Florence

Once known as Florentia (The Flourishing Town), Florence developed its position as the colony of Rome. The Etruscan heritage engraved the ancient base in the town of Florence- today’s Fiesole. Florence overcame the importance of Fiesole in the Middle Age.

The rivalry between Florence and Sienna turned into war in 1218. After the downfall of the aristocracy, the mercantile elite took power in 1293. The war between the Guelphs and Ghibellins lead to the fading of the aristocracy.

The view of Florence framed by lily flowers
The view of Florence framed by lily flowers- Credit: flytap.com

Florence took the most prosperous role among the European cities despite the political conflicts. The city became pretty influential in the loans towards the European sovereigns.

Maritime significance framed the existence of Florence in 1406 after conquering Pisa. Wealthy merchants initiated the construction of the elegant palaces. The Medici family shaped the future of Florence during the Renaissance. The oligarchy in the 14th century was the main point of revolts.

The Medici Family

The Medici family was the wealthiest in Florence and achieved their success pretty slowly. This banking family from the Mugello region of Tuscany raised their power under the politician Cosimo di Giovanni de Medici. Though the Medici family were not nobles, they ruled Florence and later Tuscany from 1434 until 1737 with some intervals.

The portraits of the main acters in the Medici family
The portraits of the main acters in the Medici family- Credit: Walkaboutflorence.com

Their greatest success was forming the Medici bank, which was the largest in Europe during the 15th century.

The alum industry initiated its growth towards wealth, followed by the textile trade. Two queens of France were born in the Medici family and four popes.

The cultural scene was highlighted with the invention of the piano and opera thanks to the Medici family. Their financial help led to the artistic influence of Leonardo da Vinci, Boticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Machiavelli and many others. Lorenzo de Medici signed his name as the leading artist and ruler of the city.

The Main Conflicts in the Medici Family

Siena enjoyed the status of the leading banking centre in Italy during the 13th century. After bankrupt under the crown of the Bonsignoris family, the leading banking scene transferred to Florence.

The Albizzi family comes into opposition to the upcoming leading status of the Medici family.

The economic resources and their control resulted in the loss of power of the Medici family after the centuries of reign.

Medici Palaces

Florence is the home to the three palaces of the Medici family.

The Medici Palace, which later got the name the Medici-Riccardi Palace, is the Renaissance home of Cosimo and Lorenzo the Magnifiscient. It’s the place where the story of the Medici family started, nowadays a museum. The Medici palaces delight with the artworks inside, though the edifice is somehow rustical outside.

The fabulous art of the Medicci-Riccardi Palace in Florence
The fabulous art of the Medici-Riccardi Palace in Florence- Credit: Loveflorenceitaly.com

Designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, the palace holds the colonnaded courtyard and delights with the Megi Chapel. It was a private chapel where stunning frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli describe the Megi’s journey to Jerusalem. The Medici Gardens are filled with orange trees, the symbol of the family.

Palazzo Vecchio is a medieval fortress and the next home of the Medici family. Nowadays, this ancient palace hosts the Florence City Hall and a museum. The carved columns in the courtyard offer a lovely entrance to the palace full of artwork.

Pitti Palace

Pitti Palace across the Arno river is a spacious testimony of the royal touch and magnificent artwork. Its original purpose was to serve as a home to the Florentine banker Lucca Pitti, a Medici rival.

The main reason for settling down in the new palace is the desire of Cosimo’s wife to have a larger home.

Palazzo Pitti with its majestic gardens and fountains
Palazzo Pitti with its majestic gardens and fountains- Credit: Planetware.com

From 1549 to 1737, the Pitti Palace was the residence of the Medici family. Today, the several museums expose the prestigious history of the Medici family and their costumes. The Palatine gallery is the most significant museum where artworks by Titian, Raffael or Rubens cover the fascinating treasure of time.

The Renaissance Artworks to See in Florence

Florence developed as the artistic hive that flourished its honey around some of the majestic art pieces. The most famous artists of Italy shaped the image of the city. Bringing the extraordinary art on its streets, Florence became the captivating wonder that belongs to beauty.

Visiting Florence means absorbing the marvellous history that gives its shine to the masterpieces of art. The vibrant history of Florence is inscribed in the artworks of Michelangelo, Sandro Boticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and much more.

The statue of David by Michelangelo in Academy Gallery
The statue of David by Michelangelo in Academy Gallery- Credit: Florentinermuseen.com

The statue of David by Michelangelo is a fascinating example of Florentine art. Michelangelo created the most renowned marvels, like the Sistine Chapel in Rome or the Pieta.

The biblical hero David is captured in a battle which glorifies his eyes and body with courage and shine. The Accademia Gallery also hosts several unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo which trace his creativity.

Primavera & Birth of Venus by Sandro Boticelli

Primavera truly speaks about amazement that’s hidden in the heart. It’s that piece of art that perfectly describes the hidden gems that belong to the world.

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Boticelli, one of the most famous world's paintings
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Boticelli, one of the most famous world’s paintings- Credit: Artincontext.org

Primavera or even one more famous image, The birth of Venus, can be seen in the Uffici Gallery. These paintings belong to the series of nine pictures done for the Medici family. Primavera creates elegance through the soft nuances and the play of movements.

The Birth of Venus glorifies the goddess of love and beauty protected by the giant shell of the sea. Long hair depicts the style of the 15th century with the idyllic nudity.

The Architecture of Florence

The architecture of Florence dwells in overwhelming beauty. The heart of the city, Piazza del Duomo, attracts numerous visitors.

The Dome of Florence is an architectural gem by Brunelleschi, who won the competition over the most famed architects. Shaped as an octagonal design, the dome became the largest in Italy.

The Duomo in Florence, one of the largest Italian churches
The Duomo in Florence, one of the largest Italian churches- Credit: Tuscanypeople.com

The Duomo has the enchanting decor inside, including frescoes by Paolo Ucello and stained glass windows by Donatello.

Giotto’s Bell Tower is a stunning masterpiece upon which the sculptures and marble of different colours speak the story of Gothic times.

Baptistery of St. John, as the third building of the Duomo, is one of the oldest in Florence. Its octagonal design enchants by the gold mosaics of the ceilings.

Next to the Palazzo Vecchio stands the open-air museum of the Loggia dei Lanzi, which delights by the lovely arches.

The Ponte Vecchio holds a splendid medieval charm which makes it more than a bridge.

Main Museums in Florence

The museums of Florence are the testimony of the Renaissance time in the light of the world’s renowned paintings and sculptures. Not only Renaissance art filles the Florentine museums but also the Venetian masterpieces of Tintoretto and Titian, Raphael’s fascinating portraits by Rembrandt.

The Uffici Gallery at Arno river in Florence
The Uffici Gallery at Arno river in Florence- Credit: Getyourguide.at

Florence’s museums cherish the heritage of Egyptian mummies, historical fashion and the Medici’s jewelry.

The Academy Gallery is one of the most precious collection of Florentine art where Michelangelo’s David holds the top position. The Academy pulls the traces in 1784 being the school for artists.

This is the place to see Michelagelo’s creative process and unfinished sculptures.

The original setting of Michelagelo’s David was Piazza della Signora but was brought to Academy in 1873 because of the weather’s conditions.

The Uffici Gallery shows the panorama of Renaissance artworks in all its nuances in one of the largest European museums.

Other Florentine Museums

Seeing the two above museums means visiting the Florentine artwork at the palm of your hand. Bursting with art, Florence is a perfect place to absorb art treasure.

Pitti Palace holds modern art, fashion and jewelry, putting the highlight to the Palatine Gallery.

Bargello Palace National Museum holds the fascinating marble sculptures giving the marvelous points to Donatello and Michelangelo. Glazed terra-cotta rooms by Andrea and Giovanni della Robbia crown the visit to Bargello Palace.

The Museo dell’Opera in Santa Maria del Fiore or Cathedral museum glorifies Ghiberti’s bronze doors panel’s . The marvellous artworks of Michelangelo, Donatello and Luca della Robbia cannot be avoided.

Michelangelo’s house, Museo Galileo, Bardini museum and gardens and the Archeological museum merge to the colourful palette of the Florentine museums.

Hidden Gems in Florence

The wealth of artistic bloom in Florence shines in the most hidden corners.

San Marco Museum is inspired by Beato Angelico’s artworks without the hordes of people.

Villa Demidoff is a touch of elegance only 30 minutes away from the historical centre of Florence.

The marvellous statue the Colosso dell’Appennino by Giambologna at Villa Demidoff
The marvellous statue the Colosso dell’Appennino by Giambologna at Villa Demidoff- Credit: Feelflorence.it

Museum Stibbert holds a stunning arbor collection and lovely English gardens.

Michelangelo’s secret carvings at Palazzo Vecchio fill the heart with artistic soul.

Perseus with the head of Medusa enlights Loggia dei Lanci among many other sculptures.

Cappella Brancacci is a vibrant church full of frescoes reminiscenting to the Sistine Chapel.

Rivalry of Rome and Florence

Florence evolved out of the Renaissance and concentrated its power into the field where culture and art rule. This small town scattered the prestigious level of art throughout its museums, galleries, streets.

The competition between Florence and Rome was constant while both cities set into Christianity and cultural life.

Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's masterpiece in Rome
Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s masterpiece in Rome- Credit: Tripsavvy.com

The Cathedral of Florence, built in 1296, flourished as the largest in Italy and a symbol of the city. The unparalleled world of the Vatican’s Basilica doesn’t bring to the surface the true winner. Rome stays under the shelter of the Roman Republic, to the world even more ancient in its culture.

Rivalry is strong not only between Florence and Rome, but the crucial link between these two cities prevailed in the Renaissance. The artistic shine puts the magnificent artworks in the basket of Florence while Rome holds the pillars.

Conclusion- The Artistic Power of Florence

The unusual reasons that lifted Florence as an artistic hive lie in the essence of the banking world. The Renaissance built its images upon art and the world of aesthetic enjoyment. Humanism brings an even more solid basis to the switch that changes the entire world.

Florence breaths the artistic lifestyle that describes something more soft to unite with, a delight that cherishes the colours, emotions and change.

The secrets of Florence live through art and its hidden treasures. The values of art speak of history that deserves to have a more comprehensive approach.

The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a symphony that belongs to art and uncovers hidden potentials.

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