Palazzo Vecchio, found in Piazza della Signoria in the historical center of Florence, which once had the exclusive role of political representative of the city, began to lose importance beginning with the new construction of the Uffizi Palace in 1565.
The Palace went through three building stages from the time of its original construction. Arnolfo Di Cambio, who began the project in 1299, was the creator of the original plan, but shortly after beginning the project he died and left the project o be completed by his successors who finished it in 1314.
Built on the ruins of two other palaces, the original ancient tower found on these ruins, was incorporated into the new facade by Arnolfo Di Cambio. It is 94 meters in height and contains two small holding cells which once held prisoner Cosimo the Elder in 1435 and Girolamo Savonarla later in 1498.
The first large alterations were done during the Republican era and again after Cosimo I of the Medici took residence there in the mid 1500's. Centuries later it gained importance again after the powerful Lorraine family was expelled from the city in 1848 and Florence was the capital of the kingdom of Italy.
It was shortly after that Palazzo Vecchio became the seat of United Italy's provisional government from 1865-71 and housed the Chamber of Deputies. It later returned to its original function as the seat of the City Council in 1872.
The Palazzo Vecchio that we see today house offices of the City Council but much of it can be visited today.
The first floor is composed of 3 courtyards, Salone dei Cinquecento, and the Studiolo.
The second floor contains the Apartments of the Elements, Terrace of Saturn, The Hercules Room, the room of Jupiter, the Room of Cybele, The Ceres Rom, the Sala Verde, The Room of the Sabines, the Dining Room, the Room of Penelope, the Private Chambers of Eleanor, the Sala dell’Udienza, the Chapel of the Signoria, the Sala dell’orologio, the Stanza del Guardarobe, the Old Chancellery, and the Study.