Old Bridge
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Tourist informations
Where is it: right in the middle of Florence!

Ponte Vecchio, the Old Bridge, is the most famous and ancient bridge of Florence; togheter with the Cathedral's dome it is a symbol of the city.



The Ponte Vecchio is located approximately where the first wooden bridge of Florence was built in Roman age (hence the name "Old Bridge"). It was destroyed several times by floods of the Arno (in 1177, then in 1200 and once again in 1250); in 1294 the City decided to strenghten the bridge, which nevertheless was again destroyed by the flood of 1333. Reconstruction begun only in 1345, when a completely new bridge was realized: it was characterized by walls and four towers on the edges.
This building proved to be very resistant - it is the bridge we see today. The Old Bridge lose very quickly its fortress-like character: the City turned it into a market and in 1442 many butchers opened here their shops. In 1495 some of the shops were enlarged towards the river, with those characteristic jutting houses at the sides of the bridge.

Click to enlarge pictures.

The Old Bridge was reshaped again in 1565, when court architect Giorgio Vasari built on top of it a part of the famous Corridor joining Palazzo Vecchio with Pitti Palace. In 1594 Grand Duke Ferdinando I decided to remove from the bridge all butcher's shops: they were replaced by more noble goldsmith's workshops, and since then "Ponte Vecchio" became synonym of gold and jewels.
The bridge survived the flood of 1844, and a century later survived also World War II: in August 1944 the retreating German army destroyed all bridges of Florence, except the Ponte Vecchio. After the war a vast restoration of the bridge took place; the works ended in 1960 and enabled the Old Bridge to survive the devastating flood of 1966.

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