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Museo Nazionale del Bargello

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Discover the Fascinating History of Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Firenze

Located in the heart of Florence, Museo Nazionale del Bargello is a hidden gem that offers a captivating journey through history, art, and culture. This former barracks and prison, now transformed into an art museum, is one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating back to 1255. Let's delve into the fascinating history and highlights of this remarkable museum.

Historical Significance and Architectural Features

Originally serving as the headquarters of the Capitano del Popolo and later the Podestà, the Bargello Palace became the residence of the Bargello, the head of the police, in the 16th century. Throughout the 18th century, it functioned as a prison, witnessing significant episodes of civic history. Dante himself participated in the Council of the Hundred, which took place within these walls.

The architectural features of the Bargello Palace reflect its rich history. The beautiful courtyard, balcony, and the grand hall on the first floor showcase the harmonious severity of the building. As you explore the museum, you'll be immersed in the ambiance of the past, surrounded by the echoes of sieges, fires, and even executions.

Marvel at the Artistic Treasures

The Museo Nazionale del Bargello houses an impressive collection of sculptures and decorative arts. The large 14th-century hall on the first floor is home to works by the renowned sculptor Donatello. Admire the early marble David, the St. George, the bronze David, the Atys, and the Marzocco. These masterpieces are complemented by the delicate works of Donatello's pupils, Desiderio da Settignano and Antonio Rossellino.

The Renaissance repertoire at the museum includes glazed terracottas by Luca della Robbia, featuring an extraordinary group of Madonna with Child. You'll also find works by other prominent artists such as Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Sansovino, Bandinelli, Ammannati, Cellini, and Giambologna. The collection showcases the evolution of art during the Renaissance period.

Fun Facts and Tips for Visitors

  • Did you know that the Bargello Palace was the setting for the famous execution of Baroncelli, involved in the Pazzi plot against the Medici? Leonardo da Vinci himself witnessed this event.
  • The museum also houses a remarkable collection of decorative arts, including Roman and Byzantine ivories, medieval glazes, Limoges porcelain, Renaissance jewels, and Islamic examples of damascened bronze.
  • Don't miss the bronze animals that were originally displayed in the grotto of the Medici villa of Castello, now showcased on the museum's staircases.

When to Visit

To fully appreciate the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, it's best to visit during weekdays when it's less crowded. The museum opens at 8:15 am and closes at 2:00 pm, so plan your visit accordingly. Take your time to explore the various rooms and immerse yourself in the rich history and artistry on display.


Museo Nazionale del Bargello is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike. With its fascinating history, architectural beauty, and impressive collection of sculptures and decorative arts, this museum offers a unique glimpse into Florence's past. Plan your visit to the Bargello and embark on a captivating journey through time and creativity.

Updated on 27 May 2024

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