History of The Uffizi

The building was constructed by Giorgio Vasari and commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici who wanted to bring together the “Uffizi” (the offices of the Tribunals) and the workshops of the court in the heart of the city next to Palazzo Vecchio.

One of the best examples of Mannerist architecture, the building is shaped like a horseshoe with a large portico at ground level, windows with noble tympanum on the first floor and an airy loggia, which originally had an open-topped crown. The Grand Duke planned an elevated palace (still in use today) connecting the new building with Palazzo Vecchio and a long corridor linking the west wing of the Uffizi to Pitti Palace. It was bought by the Grand Duke and furnished as a place of leisure and retreat for the dynasty. The Vasari Corridor, named after its architect Giorgio Vasari, was built in March 1565 on the occasion of the wedding of Francesco I and Joanna of Austria.

The Gallery, which in 1590 already had an inventory, was originally located on the top floor of the east wing. At the time, in addition to the windowed loggia in which ancient statues and busts were displayed, there was a large particularly splendid octagonal room called the Tribuna, designed by Bernardo Buontalenti who also added some adjacent rooms to house the extensive Medici’s collections. The best of the grand ducal collections, which included statues and paintings as well as precious objects, coins, medals, and small bronze statues, were exhibited in the Tribuna “… a shrine of rare and precious things” (Borghini). Francesco I de’ Medici, Cosimo I’s son and heir to the throne, was responsible for the realization of the first nucleus of the Gallery, which was the first in Europe to be called a “museum”.