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Monday 06 December 2021
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Hall of Geographical Maps

Sala Carte Geografiche

In the Priors' day, the room known as the Hall of Geographical Maps did not exist, as can be deduced from the remains of the neighbouring Chancellery's windows on the wall to the left of the entrance. When Duke Cosimo I de' Medici moved into the palazzo, the neighbouring rooms were converted into the Wardrobe, which is where the court's moveable possessions were stored. This room was built by Giorgio Vasari at a later date (1561-1565), when Cosimo asked him to produce a room that could fulfil the dual role of being the main room of the Wardrobe and at the same time a room given over to cosmography.

Working in conjunction with cosmographer Fra' Miniato Pitti, Vasari developed a design for the room consisting of: paintings depicting the constellations on the ceiling; large wooden cupboards lining the walls, with geographical maps on the panels and pictures of the various regions' typical flora and fauna on their bases, surmounted by busts of princes and emperors and three hundred portraits of illustrious men from history. In the centre of the room, two large globes were intended to appear in theatrical fashion from the ceiling's central panels, the celestial globe then remaining suspended in mid-air while the globe representing the earth would descend to the floor. The notion of representing in a single room the whole of the world as it was known in the mid-16th century highlights Cosimo's interest in geography, the natural sciences and trade; but it was also designed to celebrate the duke as lord of the universe, in a role which his very name allegorically assigned to him through its association with the Greek word "kosmos" (universe).

The ambitious project was completed only in part. Dionigi di Matteo Nigetti made the walnut cupboards (1564-1571) that were initially intended to house tapestries, other hangings and assorted upholstery, then silver and gold items, and finally old weapons. Of the 53 maps eventually completed, 30 were painted by Dominican friar Egnazio Danti (1564-1575) and 23 by Olivetan monk Stefano Bonsignori (1575-1586). Twenty-seven were taken from Ptolemy's Geographia (2nd century AD) though they were updated to reflect contemporary writing, while the others, including those of America, were taken from a variety of more recent sources. Egnazio Danti also made the large terrestrial globe (1564-1571), but it was placed elsewhere and only returned to its original destination in the last century. Lorenzo della Volpaia's Planetary Clock, which had been housed in the adjacent Hall of Lilies since 1510, was relocated to the centre of the wall opposite the entrance. A modern reconstruction of this spectacular clock, which was destroyed in the 17th century, can be seen in the Museo Galileo in Florence. And finally, Cristofano dell’Altissimo made a start on painting the portraits of illustrious men for placing above the cupboards, copying them from Paolo Giovio's famous collection in Como. By 1570 the portraits numbered over two hundred, arranged in three superimposed rows, but by the following decade they had been moved to the corridor of the Uffizi Gallery, where they can still be seen today.


  1. Polar regions

  2. Siberia (Tartaria)

  3. Great Britain and Ireland

  1. Iberian peninsula (Spagna)

  2. France

  3. Central and northern Europe (Germania)

  4. Italy

  5. Dalmatian coast (Schiavonia)

  6. Egypt

  7. Ethiopia and Somalia (Trogloditica)

  8. Sudan (Nubia)

  9. Mauritania, Mali, Morocco and Algeria

  10. Tunisia and Lybia (Affrica)

  11. West Africa (Libia interiore)

  12. Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon (Parte dell’Agisimba)

  13. Gabon, Angola and Congo (Parte d’Affrica nuova …)

  14. Namibia, Botswana and South Africa (Parte d’Affrica)

  15. Kenya and Tanzania (Parte d’Affrica)

  16. Karelia and northern Russia (Parte di Scitia)

  1. Latvia and Lithuania (Livonia et Lituania)

  2. Greece, Albania, Bosnia and Bulgaria (Grecia)

  3. Polar regions

  4. Anatolian peninsula with modern place-names (Natolia)

  5. Polar regions

  6. Anatolian peninsula with old place-names and Middle East (Natolia)

  7. Russia (Moscovia)

  8. South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar (Parte di Buona Speranza)

  9. Scandinavian peninsula (Norvegia Gotia …)

  10. Iceland (Thile)

  11. Greenland (Gronlandia)

  12. Madagascar (Isola di San Lorenzo)

  13. California (Ultime parti note nel Indie Occidentali)

  14. Mexico (Nuova Spagna)

  1. Gulf of Mexico, Central America and southern United States

  2. Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and French West Indies (Mare del Nort …)

  3. Ecuador and Peru

  4. Bolivia and western Amazonia

  5. Brasil and the Amazon river

  6. Chile and Argentina (Stretto di Magellano)

  7. Chile and Argentina (Stretto di Magellano)

  8. Middle East (Armenia)

  9. Arabian peninsula (Arabia)

  10. Iran (Persia)

  11. Western part of Pakistan and Afghanistan (Sogdiana)

  12. Eastern part of Pakistan and Afghanistan (Paropaniside et Aracosia)

  13. Tibet, Nepal and northern Hindustan (Indostan)

  14. Indian subcontinent and island of Sri Lanka (Parte dell’India dentro al Gange)

  15. North-west India (India fuori dal Gange)

  1. Maluku Islands and part of the Philippines

  2. Indochinese peninsula and larger islands of Indonesia (Trapobana o Samotra)

  3. Coast of China and Japan

  4. China

  5. Polar regions


città di firenze
Comune di Firenze
Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria
P.IVA 01307110484
Note Legali
Licenza Creative Commons

Amministrazione Trasparente: I dati personali pubblicati sono riutilizzabili solo alle condizioni previste dalla direttiva comunitaria 2003/98/CE e dal d.lgs. 36/2006