The Uffizi Gallery covers
an area of about 8.000 sq.m.. and contains one of the most
important collections of art of all times, including classical
sculpture and paintings on canvas and wood by 13th to 18th
century Italian and foreign schools.
The Gallery of the Uffizi was also the first museum ever to
be opened to the public: in fact the Grand Duke granted permission
to visit it on request from the year 1591. Its four centuries
of history make the Uffizi Gallery the oldest museum in the
Cosimo I de' Medici decided to build the Palace, whose construction
was started by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 and later completed
by Buontalenti, who designed the famous Tribune, to house
the administrative offices (or "uffizi") of the
Government because Palazzo Vecchio, which also overlooks Piazza
della Signoria, had become too small to hold them all.
However it was his son Francesco I who was responsible for
starting to turn the palace into a museum in 1581, when he
closed the second floor Gallery with huge windows and arranged
part of the grand-ducal collection of classical statues, medals,
jewellery, weapons, paintings and scientific instruments here.