Florentine Lion Symbol
Every wondered why you might have seen so many lions around the city of Florence? Lions are to be seen in all other cities of the world, but haven’t you noticed that Florence seems a little overboard with using the lion as a symbol? There is a reason for this. The lion has a specific connection with Florence.
It goes all the way back to the year 1280. Legend has it that back in those days, the lion caged close by the Baptistery by Florentines escaped. It caught a child, but actually gave the child back to its mother. The animal has since been used as a symbol that represents the “Free Republic of Florence”, more so than the eagle which represents imperial power, since lions are a step ahead in the food chain.
The Medici family adopted these lions as part of their own iconography. At the Loggia dei Lanzi on Piazza Signoria, you will see a couple more lions. These are the Medici lions, moved to their present location in 1789, but used in Rome by the family at the Villa Medici originally.
The lions located around the city that directly represent the Republic of Florence are known as the Marzocco lions. Look up above at the Piazza della Signoria, you will see one of the most famous examples of a Marzocco lion, the original of which was sculpted by Donatello in the 15th century and is now kept safe in the Bargello.
Keep your eyes peeled as you venture around the city as there’s a few more gems to be found. A lot of history is to be learned in regards to this important symbol for the city of Florence.
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