Architecture Around the World

Palazzo Strozzi (The Strozzi Palace)
Via Tuornaboni at Via Strozzi, Florence, Italy


Begun 1489 for Filippo Strozzi


Benedetto da Maiano


Florentine Renaissance civil architecture

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

2002 photos

Lower story is rusticated, the middle consists of large blocks of stone, and the top story is smooth

The entablature overhangs the street by more than seven feet, casting a mighty shadow:  Egg-and-dart molding   ...   Bead-and-reel molding   ...   Dentil molding

Lower story is rusticated, the middle consists of large blocks of stone, and the top story is smooth

Voussoirs   ...   Note original torch holders on the corners   ...   Arcade window   ...   Dentil molding

Original torch holder

Original horse tether

All the important rooms look inward upon the quiet and cool courtyard.   ...   Loggia    ... Plasters on second story

Piano nobile (second story in US) and third story


Composite columns   ...   Keystone decorated with acanthus leaf in round arches

Banker Filippo Strozzi began building the city's largest palazzo (palace) in 1489, demolishing fifteen surrounding palaces in the process. Today the palazzo hosts a prestigious biennial antiques fair.

The façades of the Palazzo Strozzi are articulated by means of three different treatments of the masonry corresponding to the three stories: the lower story being rusticated, the middle consisting of large blocks of stone, and the top story being smooth. A similar conjunction of smooth and rusticated masonry is found in the Palazzo Pitti and the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi

Historical perspective

The secular nature of the Renaissance - the triumph of Humanism even in the Catholic South - finds a symbol in the villa and the palace, not least the palaces of Florence, The palaces were built in the middle years of the fifteenth century for such princely and mercantile families as the Strozzi, as well as Medici (Medici-Riccardi), the Pitti, and the Pandolfini. They vary in detail but conform to type:

  • Unlike the villas which were set among the fountains and cypresses of the surrounding hills, these palaces arc fundamentally urban
  • Each fills a city block
  • Each is built right up to the street frontage, presenting a cliff of masonry to the outer world
  • Each has an internal courtyard of shaded and colonnaded charm
  • Each relegates to the ground floor such subordinate things as offices, stables, kitchens and guard,rooms
  • Ground floor rooms often have quite small windows to the street, covered with heavy grilles. The grilles themselves, as in the case of the Palazzo Pitti, were often fine works of art, their metallic quality being a foil to the rusticated stonework
  • Each palace has great suites of state apartments on the first floor - the piano nobile (second story in US) - with coved and painted ceilings. Externally this gives a splendid area of blank wall above each range of windows
  • Each palace has a crowning cornice; that of the Palazzo Strozzi overhangs the street by more than seven feet, casting a mighty shadow
  • The façades, while having scale and dignity, were austere
  • Often the greatest enrichment was the craggy character of the rusticated masonry or, as in the Alberti's Palazzo Rucellai, very flat pilasters

What is mote important than individual façades is the fact that here had been created a new urban type, which was to be found throughout the centuries in the Georgian square, the Pall Mall clubs, the Wall Street bank. The wealthy businessman, now neither a churchman nor a feudal lord, had found his architectural symbol. Moreover, the modern street, the "corridor" of stone frontages, had, for better or worse, been invented.


  • "A History of Architectural Styles," by Fritz Baumgart. Praeger Pub. 1970
  • "A Concise History of Western Architecture," by R. Furneaux Jordan. Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1980

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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