Inclusion in the World Heritage List: Paris, 13-17 December 1982
Florence was built on the site of an Etruscan settlement and on the later Roman colony of Florentia (founded in 59 BC). During the early Medici period, this Tuscan city became (between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries) a symbol of the Renaissance revolution, reaching extraordinary levels of economic and cultural development. The present-day historic town centre extends over 505 hectares and is delimited by what remains of the 14th century city walls. These walls feature gates, towers and the two Medici fortresses that still exist: that of San Giovanni Battista to the north, known as "da Basso", and the Forte di San Giorgio a Belvedere located in the southern hills. The Arno river flows from east to west, crossing the city, and a series of bridges, including Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinita, connect its two banks.
Seven hundred years of extraordinary cultural and artistic development are clearly visible in the fourteenth-century cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, in the Church of Santa Croce, in Palazzo Vecchio, in the Uffizi Gallery and at Palazzo Pitti. The history of the city is also evident in the works of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo.
The Historic Centre of Florence represents a unique social and urban achievement, the result of continuous creation lasting centuries, that includes museums, churches, palaces and priceless assets. Florence has had a predominant influence on the development of architecture and monumental arts, first in Italy and then in Europe; and it is in the Florentine context that the concept of Renaissance emerged and developed. This patrimony gives Florence a unique character both from a historical and an aesthetic point of view.
Criterion I - Representing a masterpiece of man's creative genius.
The whole of urban Florence is in itself a unique artistic achievement, an absolute masterpiece, the result of continuous creation lasting six centuries. Here, in addition to the Museums (Archaeological, Uffizi, Bargello, Pitti, Accademia, etc.), we find the greatest concentration of works of art known throughout the world - the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile, Piazza della Signoria dominated by Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Palace, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce with the Pazzi Chapel, Santo Spirito, San Miniato and the Convent of San Marco which houses the paintings of Fra Angelico.
Criterion II - Showing an important exchange of human values, over a long period of time or within a cultural area of the world, concerning developments in architecture, technology, monumental arts, urban planning and landscape design.
Since the fifteenth century, Florence has had a predominant influence on the development of architecture and monumental arts, first in Italy and then in Europe. The artistic principles of the Renaissance began to be defined in the 15th century by Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio. It was in Florence that two geniuses of art were shaped and established themselves: Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.
Criterion III - Being unique or exceptional evidence of a cultural tradition or of a living civilization or one that has disappeared.
The Historic Centre of Florence provides exceptional evidence, both as a medieval merchant city and as a Renaissance city. Florence has preserved many elements intact, including streets, fortified buildings (Palazzo Spini, Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo della Signoria), loggias, fountains (Loggia del Bigallo, Loggia dei Lanzi, Loggia degli Innocenti and Loggia del Mercato Nuovo) and Ponte Vecchio, the marvellous 14th century bridge with its shops. The trades, organized in guilds, left exceptional monuments, such as Orsanmichele.
Criterion IV - Constituting an extraordinary example of a building category, of an architectural or technological ensemble, or of a landscape, that illustrates one or more important phases in human history.
From the 14th to the 17th century, Florence exercised considerable economic and political power in Europe. Prestigious buildings were built during this period, which bear witness to the magnificence of its bankers and its princes: Palazzo Rucellai, Palazzo Strozzi, Pandolfini, Gondi, Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, not to mention the Sacristy of San Lorenzo, the Medici Funeral Chapels, the Laurentian Library etc.
Criterion VI - Being directly or materially linked to living occurrences or traditions, ideas or beliefs, artistic or literary works, endowed with an exceptional universal meaning.
Florence is linked to events of universal importance. It was during the period of the Neoplatonic Florentine Academy that the concept of Renaissance was formed. Florence is the home of modern Humanism inspired by Landino, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, etc. (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2014).