A stunning arched gallery nestled within the Piazza della Signoria, and right in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Loggia dei Lanzi is a worthy attraction to visit.
It’s beauty and style served as a base model for many of the loggias that were later built across Europe, making it an extremely significant structure. The covered gallery features three large arches, creating a truly unique building both inside and out!
The History of Loggia dei Lanzi
It was built in the 14th century, originally named the Loggia della Signoria, but often nicknamed the Loggia dei Lanzi from the German mercenary guards who were stationed in the region in the 16th century. It was designed by the talented tri of Simone di Francesco Talenti, Lorenzo di Filippo, and Benci di Cione, who built the building in the late Gothic style. The purpose of the building was to house both official and public ceremonies for the Florentine Republic.
About the Loggia dei Lanzi
During the sixteenth century, around the same time as the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, this building became a symbol for the Medici family power. This was done by the sheer beauty of the structure, with imposing sculptures that were chosen not just for their beauty, but to represent a specific political meaning.
On the façade, placed in correspondence of the columns of the arches, are four trefoils with allegorical figures of the four cardinal virtues (Fortitude, Temperance, Justice and Prudence) by Agnolo Gaddi (1383-1386). Their blue enamelled background is the work of Leonardo, a monk, while the golden stars were painted by Lorenzo de’ Bicci. A great example of this is the two lions featured guarding the entrance. One was created in ancient Rome, whereas the other was built in the 17th century. They were used to showcase how sacred the building was, as the lions were seen as both menacing and reassuring guards.
The loggia also contains several ancient structures within, with a large collection of impressive Renaissance and Roman sculptures. A collection of stunning statues began in 1494 when the Florentines won the battle to Medici, who had previously ruled the city for over a hundred years. During this time, the Florentines celebrated their rule by transporting a number of statues, including Donatello’s statue of Judith and Holofernes to the piazza, right in front of the building. The masterpiece is known as ‘Patroclus and Menelaus’ features inside the Loggia dei Lanzi, created in the Flavian era as a copy from an original Greek statue. The six female figures featured along the back wall of the building is from Trajan’s Forum in Rome, transported here during the decorative arrangement of Villa Medici.