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Palazzo del Bargello: Interior courtyard (ca. 1287) with stairs decorated with coats of arms of the Podestà
Architecture Library, Hesburgh Libraries
Each Podestà, or mayor, who resided in the palace left his coat-of-arms as a reminder of his presence. On the newel post is a lion, the symbol of Florence.
The massive Palazzo del Bargello was begun in 1255 and was the seat of the Podestà from 1261. In 1574 it became the headquarters of the Bargello (the chief of police) and subsequently parts of the interior were converted into prison cells. A programme to restore the building was begun in 1857 and two years later, after the collapse of the grand duchy of Tuscany, one of the first acts of the provisional government was to establish a new museum in it for post-Antique works of art other than painting.