Guide to the Uffizi Gallery: Italy's Great Renaissance Art Museum

See master works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and more

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy
••• Julian Elliott Photography / Getty Images

The Uffizi Gallery, or Galleria degli Uffizi, of Florence, is among the most visited museums in Italy, second only to the Vatican Museums of Rome, and one of the best-known museums in the world. The majority of the works displayed here are Renaissance masterpieces, but there are also classical sculptures and prints and drawings. 

A monumental collection of works by Italian and international art masters, most from the 12th to the 17th centuries, such as Botticelli, Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, are displayed in roughly chronological order at the famous museum next to Piazza della Signoria in central Florence.

Every year, more than a million visitors (10,000 a day) from all over the world come to the museum, which is arranged in a U-shape labyrinth of more than 60 halls with stunning frescoed ceilings.  

Learn the Uffizi's History

The de' Medici dynasty bequeathed to the state of Tuscany the family's precious art and treasures, acquired over some 300 years of political, financial and cultural achievements between the 1500s and the 1800s that led to the flowering of the Renaissance and cemented the family's own domination of Florence. The gift was meant as a legacy: a "public and inalienable public good" that would “adorn the State, be of utility to the Public and attract the curiosity of Foreigners.” The art was conserved in the Uffizi ("offices" in Italian), which were transformed into a grand museum, the Uffizi Gallery.

In 1560, Cosimo I de' Medici, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, ordered the construction of the Renaissance Uffizi to house the administrative and judiciary offices of Florence.

It was finished in 1574 and by 1581, the next Grand Duke established a private gallery at the Uffizi to house the magnificent private family collection of art objects. Every member of the dynasty expanded the collection until the dynasty ended in 1743, when the last de' Medici Grand Duke, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, perished without producing a male heir.

She left the vast collection to the state of Tuscany.

Plan Your Trip to the Uffizi

Since the museum is almost as well known for its long visitor lines as for its art, it's best to plan ahead.

Due to recent changes in the bureaucratic relationship between Italian museums and the Italian government, the official Uffizi website is a barebones site with limited information and no tools to book tickets, as it previously had.

Visit Uffizi.org for Info and Tips

An alternate non-profit website set up by friends of the Uffizi—Uffizi.org Guide to Uffizi Gallery Museum—contains general information about the museum, its history, and offerings.

For potential visitors, the site includes how to find the museum, how it's organized and museum hours. It also includes information on admission and tickets, including how to book tickets and how to book tours, which are sold through third-party travel agencies.

To help you navigate the museum and decide beforehand what you want to concentrate on, here are some room by room insider tips.

Uffizi Gallery Highlights

Room 2, Tuscan School of the 13th Century and Giotto: The beginnings of Tuscan art, with paintings by Giotto, Cimabue, and Duccio di Boninsegna.

Room 7, Early Renaissance: works of art from the beginning of the Renaissance by Fra Angelico, Paolo Uccello, and Masaccio.

Room 8, Lippi Room: paintings by Filippo Lippi, including a beautiful "Madonna and Child," and Piero della Francesco's painting of Federico da Montefeltro, a truly iconic work of portraiture.

Rooms 1014, Botticelli: some of the most iconic allegorical works of the Italian Renaissance from Sandro Botticelli, including "The Birth of Venus."

Room 15, Leonardo da Vinci: dedicated to the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci and to artists who inspired (Verrocchio) or admired (Luca Signorelli, Lorenzo di Credi, Perugino) him.

Room 25, Michelangelo: Michelangelo's "Holy Family" ("Doni Tondo"), a round composition, surrounded by Mannerist paintings from Ghirlandaio, Fra Bartolomeo, and others. (​Traveler's tip: Michelangelo's most famous work in Florence, the "David" sculpture, is located in the Accademia.)

Room 26, Raphael and Andrea del Sarto: approximately seven works by Raphael and four works by Andrea del Sarto, including his portraits of Popes Julius II and Leo X and "Madonna of the Goldfinch." Also: "Madonna of the Harpies" by Andrea del Sarto.

Room 28, Titian: dedicated to Venetian painting, particularly that of Titian, with his "Venus of Urbino" among approximately a dozen of the artist's paintings.

West Hallway, Sculpture Collection: numerous marble sculptures, but Baccio Bandinelli's "Laocoon," modeled after a Hellenistic work, is perhaps best known.

Room 4 (First Floor), Caravaggio: three of Caravaggio's most famous paintings: "The Sacrifice of Isaac," "Bacchus," and "Medusa." Two other paintings from the School of Caravaggio: "Judith Slaying Holofernes" (Artemisia Gentileschi) and "Salome with the Head of John the Baptist" (Battistello).

In addition to the outstanding works listed above, the Galleria degli Uffizi also contains works by Albrecht Dürer, Giovanni Bellini, Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino and countless other greats of Italian and international Renaissance art.