Piazza della Repubblica in Florence, credit Comune di Firenze

Republic Square Florence, credit Comune di Firenze

Piazza della Repubblica in Florence 

Ancient Roman colony Florentia has reemerged from beneath the 18th century stone pavement in Piazza della Repubblica (Republic Square). The digging for resurfacing the square, part of the City council’s redevelopment plan, opened a window onto the square’s long history as the ancient heart of the city. Palazzo Vecchio (City Hall), in cooperation with the Archaeological Authority, gave citizens and tourists the possibility to visit the archeological remains that surfaced with an archeology guide from the Cooperativa Archeologia (Archaeology Cooperative). It is possible to learn a little more about the history of one of the most frequented places in the city center.

Forum of Florentia

Piazza della Repubblica in Florence has always been the “square” of the city, from its establishment in Roman times to today. Here in Roman times rose the Forum of Florentia, ancient name of the city. There was a temple dedicated to the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Minerva, and Juno). This is where the cardo crossed the decumanus maximus, the major roads from north to south and east to west. Today the Colonna dell’Abbondanza stands where they intersected. In the medieval ages, it was the location of the Mercato Vecchio (The Old Market). It was surrounded by the towers of some of the most important Florentine families. In the 1500s the area was occupied by the Jewish Ghetto as Granduke Cosimo I. He ordered all Jews to reside here. It was so populated that there were two synagogues with ceremonies in Italian and in Spanish. In the late 1800s, in occasion of the city’s transformation as capital, a discussion arose about the need to “restore” the Ghetto area.

XIX century’s destructions

Unfortunately, the demolition proposal prevailed. It started from the area of the market and covered a good part of the city center, eliminating the city’s ancient medieval fabric. The ancient medieval walls were also destroyed and only a trace of them has remained. In 1888 demolition began in the area north of the Piazza della Repubblica. After the Mercato Vecchio, the medieval towers, churches, seats of the arts and crafts guilds, workshops and housing were also demolished to build the square as we see it today. Almost nothing remains of all of this, except for fragments and testimonies by journalists and artists of that time.