Palazzo del Bargello (Bargello National Museum), Florence

Palazzo del Bargello (Bargello National Museum), Florence (must see)

If Florence, in general, is a haven for architecture enthusiasts and art lovers, then the Bargello Museum takes this experience to even greater heights. Occupying a medieval fortress, houses some of Italy's most treasured sculptures and artworks.

Also known as the People's Palace ("Palazzo del Popolo"), this is one of the city's oldest structures, dating back to 1255. Throughout its rich history, the building has served various purposes. Initially, in the 16th century, it accommodated the renowned "Captain of the People", the chief of police in Florence, known as the "bargello," hence the name of the palace. Later, the Bargello Fortress functioned as a prison until the mid-19th century, when it was transformed into a museum showcasing an extensive array of Gothic and Renaissance sculptures.

Displayed here are the works of renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Verrochio, Brunelleschi, and Donatello among others. Notably, the latter's statue of David holds great significance as the first male nude sculpture publicly exhibited since ancient times, marking a pivotal moment in the evolution of European art. The inner courtyard provides an elegant space adorned with relief and freestanding sculptures, while the gallery, located off the courtyard, and the spacious exhibition area above house the most famous pieces.

Apart from the Renaissance treasures, the collection includes rare artifacts from the Byzantine, Roman, and Medieval eras. Alongside the sculptures, you'll find jewelry pieces of European Renaissance and Islamic origins. To enhance the visitor experience, all exhibits are accompanied by English descriptions.

***MICHELANGELO'S MASTERPIECES***
Among the museum's prized possessions are masterpieces by Michelangelo, including Bacchus, Pitti Tondo (or "Madonna and Child"), Brutus, and David-Apollo. Bacchus is depicted with eyes that seem to roll, his staggering body appearing on the verge of toppling off the rocky pedestal on which he stands. Giorgio Vasari observed that the figure conveyed "both the slenderness of a young man and the fleshiness and roundness of a woman", showcasing its androgynous qualities. The sense of instability resulting from a high center of gravity can be found in several later works by the artist, most notably in the David and the figures on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Michelangelo carved Bacchus when he was only 22 years old.

Tip:
To make the most of your visit to the Bargello, checking out the museum's website in advance for opening hours, as on special occasions, it may close later than usual. For those brave enough to explore the eerie, deserted medieval building in the late evening, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy the sculptures in solitude.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Florence. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Palazzo del Bargello (Bargello National Museum) on Map

Sight Name: Palazzo del Bargello (Bargello National Museum)
Sight Location: Florence, Italy (See walking tours in Florence)
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Florence, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

Creating your own self-guided walk in Florence is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Dante's Florence Walking Tour

Dante's Florence Walking Tour

Dante Alighieri was arguably the greatest – albeit also most controversial – of Italy's poets. After having served as one of the six priors governing Florence, his political activities – including the banishing of several rivals – led to his own banishment, upon which he wrote his masterpiece, “The Divine Comedy”, as a wanderer, seeking protection for his family in one town after...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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Duomo Walking Tour

Duomo Walking Tour

Located in the very heart of historic Florence, the Duomo area is deservedly considered the city’s religious and civic center, replete with numerous landmarks. Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, the two most important squares in the city, are steeped in history and the sights and activities found here are truly endless.

The most prominent of these, undoubtedly, is the breathtaking...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Florence Introduction Walking Tour

Florence Introduction Walking Tour

The city of Florence was founded by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for veteran soldiers. It was built initially in the style of an army garrison – with main streets intersecting at today's Piazza della Repubblica. The original name, Fluentia, stems from its location between the two rivers; later, it was renamed Florentia, which means “flowering” or “flourishing”.

The...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour

Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour

Michelangelo spent over 20 years of his life in Florence – the birthplace of the Renaissance – during which time he created some of the most beautiful masterpieces the city had ever seen. The most famous of them – the David – was larger than life, and brought a larger-than-life image to the artist. No amount of photos or copies of the statue will do it justice, so to see it with your own...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles
Florence's Hidden Art Treasures

Florence's Hidden Art Treasures

The “Cradle of the Renaissance,” Florence is one of Europe’s most beautiful and busiest destinations, home to some of the world's greatest pieces of art and architecture. The iconic masters like Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael and Michelangelo, as well as their somewhat less-known but equally talented counterparts, such as Ghirlandaio, Sangallo and Castagno, have blessed this city with...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Arno South Bank Walking Tour

Arno South Bank Walking Tour

The area south of Arno river, also called Oltrarno ("Beyond the Arno"), is a quieter place but not less interesting. Here you can find the Pitti Palace whose collection of paintings is second only to the Uffizi, and the vast Boboli Gardens once enjoyed by the Medici and the royal family. One of the first and most important examples of "Italian Gardens", they later served as...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles

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