The Republic of Florence, Leonardo da Vinci's birthplace and childhood home, played a large role throughout da Vinci's career. At the age of 15, da Vinci began training under artist Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence, where he trained until his departure for Milan in 1481. After a period of 17 years in Milan, da Vinci fled to Mantua and Venice before returning to Florence in 1500, beginning the "Second Florentine Period." The Second Florentine Period lasted from 1500 to 1508, during which he began mathematical studies and served as an architectural expert for the city of Florence, was interrupted by a brief stint from summer of 1502 to spring of 1503 in service of Cesare Borgia. It was during this period that da Vinci proposed ideas such as a self-supporting arched bridge. It was also a time of intense scientific discovery, marked by his innovations in dissection and anatomy.


Heydenreich, L. H. (2019). Leonardo da Vinci. In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved May 11, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Leonardo-da-Vinci/Second-Florentine....


Latitude: 43.769560400000
Longitude: 11.255813600000

Timeline of Events Associated with Florence

Date Event Manage

Leonardo da Vinci's Letter to Sultan Beyazid II

Sketches of Arched Bridge

circa. 1502

Leonardo da Vinci Designs Arched Bridge

Leonardo da Vinci was a proficient engineer as well as artist, and among his designs was a bridge entirely supported by the parabolic arch underneath it. His notebook includes two illustrations of this arched bridge. He specified that the bridge, which would span the Golden Horn connecting Galata to Istanbul, would be 600 braccia long, which is equivalent to 366 m or 1200 ft; 400 braccia spanned the inlet itself, with 100 braccia over the land on either side. At its highest point, the arch would rise 70 braccia, or 43 m, above the water. While da Vinci was correct in asserting that a parabolic shape would offer extraordinarily strong support, the exact mathematical techniques required to build a bridge of this design were not developed until centuries later. These sketches, found in Manuscript L, are currently located at the Institut de France in Paris.


Atalay, B. (2013, January 22). LEONARDO’S BRIDGE: Part 2. “A Bridge for the Sultan”. Retrieved May 11, 2019, from https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2013/01/22/leonardos-bridge-part-2-a...

Books, Maps and Calligraphic documents in the Topkapi Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2019, from http://kilyos.ee.bilkent.edu.tr/~history/booknmaps.html

C. (2011, April 10). Bridge built using Leonardo da Vinci's design for a self supporting bridge.Retrieved May 12, 2019, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_da_Vinci_bridge_Karby.jpg (Originally photographed 2011, April 10)

The image is from Wikimedia Commons and taken by user Cntrading. It is used with the Free Art License.

circa. 3 Jul 1502 to circa. 3 Jul 1503 The letter is dated July 3, but the year is not specified

Letter to Sultan Beyazid II of Istanbul

While in Florence around 1502 or 1503, Leonardo da Vinci pursued a position as a scientist and engineer in the court of Sultan Beyazid II of Istanbul. To showcase his innovative ideas, he sent a “cover letter” to the Sultan proposing four projects: a windmill, a hydraulic pump, a bridge connecting Galata to Istanbul, and a suspension bridge across the Bosporus connecting Turkey and Asia. The bridge connecting Galata to Istanbul across the Golden Horn was da Vinci’s first formal proposal for a self-supporting arched bridge. As proposed, the bridge would be the longest single span bridge at the time and self supporting due to the parabolic shape of the arches underneath it. The sultan rejected this radical proposal and da Vinci’s design remained unused. The connection between this letter and da Vinci's sketches of the arched bridge design was established in 1952, as the letter, stored in the Istanbul National Archives, had been mislabeled and misattributed. The letter is now on display in the Topkapi museum in Istanbul.


Atalay, B. (2013, January 22). LEONARDO’S BRIDGE: Part 2. “A Bridge for the Sultan”. Retrieved May 11, 2019, from https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2013/01/22/leonardos-bridge-part-2-a...

Erik Cleves, K. (2014, April 8). [Galata]. Retrieved May 11, 2019, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Galata_(13971741453).jpg

The image was taken by Erik Cleves Kristensen and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. It is provided through Wikimedia Commons.