Galleria degli Uffizi (Uffizi Gallery) is among the world's most celebrated, oldest and renowned art museums. It calls the Palazzo degli Uffizi in Florence
its home. The Palazzo was originally built as offices for the Florentine magistrates of Cosimo I de' Medici. Construction was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560. What resulted is a horse shoe-shaped structure spanning the River Arno and the Piazza Signoria.
The gallery itself was founded in 1581 and has a superb and extensive collection – starting from the sculptures and paintings created or commissioned by the Medici family. In fact, it was founded by Francesco I, the de' Medici Grand Duke. Later on, the collection was expanded by the Lorraine Grand-dukes and by the state of Italy. The Medici's last heir, Anna Maria Luisa, generously shared the family collection to the state. By 1765, the collection was officially opened for public viewing.
The collection is so large that some of it has been relocated to other museums in Florence. Other collections were added to the Gallery, namely the Collection of Prints and Drawings by various artists and the Contini Bonacossi Collection. Also, there is a collection of 17th century artists' self-portraits at the Vasari Corridor. This elevated passageway connects the gallery with the Pitti Palace. You can easily use up half a day browsing through the artworks.
The museum primarily has Renaissance and Primitive paintings spanning the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. The outstanding art collection includes the following paintings: The Annunciation (Simone Martini), Madonna with Child and Two Angels (Fra Filippo Lippi), Primavera and the Birth of Venus (Sandro Botticelli), The Adoration of the Magi and the Annunciation (Leonardo da Vinci), the Doni Tondo (Michelangelo), Madonna of the Goldfinch (Raphael) and so much more. Other renowned artists featured in the Museum are Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio and Dürer. There are also some sculptures such as the Two Wrestlers and Arrotino. Most of the works are by Tuscan artists but there are sections dedicated to German French, Flemish and Dutch artists. There is also a first-class collection of miniatures composed of 1,392 pieces.
The museum is made up of forty-five rooms that group the paintings and artworks in chronological order. The ground floor features the frescoes by Andrea de Vasari (Famous Men) and the restored remains of the Romanesque S. Pier Scheraggio church. On the second floor, you will find the collection of prints and drawings initiated by Leopoldo de' Medici. The long hall is also lined with frescos of grotesques as well as ancient statues.
The Uffizi Gallery is among the most visited museums in Italy with over 1.5 million visitors annually. Expect the lines for the tickets to be long. So it pays to be early. A better option is to call in advance to reserve your tickets and book your entry time. There is also a gift shop which closes 20 minutes before the museum's closing time. The museum is open only from Tuesdays through Sundays, beginning from 8:15 in the morning to 6:50 in the afternoon.