Piazza della Signoria is found in the heart of the historical center of Florence and in one of the most visited piazzas of the city by both tourists and locals alike. The creation of this L-shaped square dates back to 1268 when the Guelph party gained control again over the Ghibelines who dominated Florence up until 1250. The two parties, which divided Florence, had been fighting for power since 1215. Before then, in the original Roman town called Florentia, the square was already popular and included a theater, roman baths, and various workshops discovered from excavations in the 1980's.
So, in 1268, the Guelphs tore down all property of their rivals on the site including the towers which belonged to the Foraboschi and Uberti families, and the land remained neglected up until 1385 when it was paved for the first time.
The piazza gets its name from the dominating palace found there; Palazzo della Signoria, now called Palazzo Vecchio. The palace was designed by Arnolfo Di Cambio at the turn of the 1300th century for government offices. The piazza is also noted for the famous Bonfire of the Vanities, not the movie by Brian De Palma, but the burning of what were considered vanities like books, fine clothing, art and poetry in 1497 by the Dominican priest Girolomo Savonarola and his followers. The priest, who ruled Florence from 1452 to 1498 was later burned in the same spot where he held the fire marked in front of the fountain of Neptune by a marble plaque.
The L-shaped square hosts other famous buildings including the Uffizi and Loggia dei Lanzi with 15 gothic statues lining the roof, the most noted being that of Benvenuto Cellini's Perseus with the head of Medusa in hand.
Other statues worth noting in Piazza della Signoria include a replica of David by Michelangelo (the original was moved to the Academia Gallery in 1873), and the equestrian statue of Cosimo I de' Medici.
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