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Florence

Art treasures and monuments of ancient Florence attract millions of tourists from all over the world. In Florence, there are numerous narrow medieval streets with houses and fortresses, but still the city is dominated by monuments of the Renaissance period as the epoch of its greatest prosperity. Museums, palaces, and churches of Florence are home to some of the most significant of the world's artistic treasures. The most popular sites in Florence are the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Bargello, the Uffizi, and the Accademia. The city is also a fine testimony of Michelangelo's architectural genius, with the churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce as well as the library of San Lorenzo as places of magnificent artistic exhibitions.

The heart of the city is Piazza della Signoria. This is the political center of Florence which is associated with major events in its history. The square was historically acknowledged in the Middle Ages and has been known to the present day. The square got its peculiar form in 1268 when the Guelph party once again regained power over the city and decided to demolish the house of its rivals from the Ghibellines party. 36 houses were removed from the streets of the city, leading to the creation of the unusual L-shaped square.

On the Piazza della Signoria, the tourists can find the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) which was constructed in 1294 as a fortress aimed to protect the residence of the priors - a powerful quadrangular building with a jagged end. The Palace is even more distinguishing due to its high tower rising above the site since 1310. The three-storey facade is decorated with paired windows in the semicircular arches, giving the whole building the impression of restrained austerity. On the facade, there are frescoes with nine coats of arms representing communes of the city under the arches of the gallery. The tower clock has a mechanism which dates back to1667. On both sides of the entrance to the palace, there are marble sculptures. Before the Palazzo Vecchio there is a series of sculptures, among which the famous copy of Michelangelo's David is placed. The inscription in Latin over the entrance to the palace says "The King reigns, but God rules.
 
The main Florentine cathedral is called Santa Maria del Fiori. It is the world's third largest cathedral after St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome and St. Paul's in London. It impresses the tourists with the harmony of shapes and elegant decorations made of white, pink, and green marble. The dome of the cathedral gives the impression of weightlessness. Near the cathedral, there is the whimsical Giotto's bell tower.

The oldest bridge in the city is called Ponte Vecchio, and not only because it is the only bridge that has been preserved in its original form. The bridge is known to be located on the site of the ancient Roman bridge and today it has an elegant design of three arches.

A distinctive feature of the Ponte Vecchio is a succession of houses on both its sides. Having undergone various transformations, they look extremely picturesque. In the center of the bridge there is an open area from which you can admire the view of the river and the other bridges of the city.

One of the grandest Florentine palaces is Pitti Palace created in 1487. It houses Royal Apartments, Palatine Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Museum of silver, and the Museum of carriages. The palace is recognized due to its gorgeous elements of the ornament and crowned heads of lions.

The Medici Chapels is a vast building which serves as the Medici family tomb and stands behind the church of San Lorenzo. The entrance leads into a spacious room with a low ceiling. It houses the tombs of Cosimo the Elder, Donatello, the tombs of great dukes.