The Uffizi, the marvellous Florentine museum known all over the world, was not initially designed to contain history and art. in 1560, Cosimo I de' Medici, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, wanted to build a space to accommodate the "uffizi", which were the administrative and judicial offices of the city of Florence, which had consolidated into a true political State with the Medici dynasty.
The job was entrusted to Giorgio Vasari, who designed the building with a U-shape and a portico with Doric columns that made it elegant and austere at the same time. With the construction of the Vasari Corridor, the Uffizi were ingeniously joined to Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, passing over Ponte Vecchio and crossing the church of Santa Felicita.
To build the Uffizi, Vasari had to demolish a part of the old city on the right bank of the Arno, the part of Florence that had been the port district since Roman times. At that time, the Arno river was navigable, but the most infamous area of the city had also emerged around the port part of it. The construction of the Judiciary building was an opportunity to give the city a new look. The church of San Pier Scheraggio, a place where the Florentines gathered to deliberate at the municipal assemblies during the Middle Ages, was incorporated in Vasari's construction, so much so that along Via della Ninna, next to Palazzo Vecchio, the central nave can still be seen clearly. When Cosimo I and Vasari died, Francesco I created an art gallery, through Bernardo Buontalenti, on the second floor of the building to contain the Medici family's art collections. The octagonal hall of the Gallery, completed in 1584, with the alchemical representation of the Four Elements, contains the most precious works. It was the beginning of the Uffizi, halls that were increasingly extended and enriched with new acquisitions by all members of the Medici family. Priceless works of ancient and contemporary art, statues, paintings, jewellery, maps, weapons, scientific instruments, manuscripts, ceramics and infinite precious tools acquired over the centuries.
With Giangastone dei Medici, the dynasty that had made Florence so important throughout the world for centuries was in danger of dying out. The danger was that the new Hapsburg-Lorraine reign would scatter the city's treasures and take them to its homeland. It was thanks to the great intelligence of a woman, Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, Electress of the Palatinate, sister of Giangastone and the last Medici descendant, that the "Family Pact" was imposed on the new Grand Duke. In 1737, through a legal act, Anna Maria Luisa dei Medici made the Medici legacy forever inalienable from the city of Florence, with the following reason in writing: "for the decoration of the State, for public use and to attract the curiosity of foreigners". The document was accompanied by a complete and meticulous inventory of all the collections, including personal ones, that belonged to the Medici dynasty.
In 1789 the Uffizi were opened to the public, becoming one of the largest and most important museums in the world and a precious space in which time is an ever-changing present.