Yeah, you’ve already seen the Duomo Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore… or at least its dome and bell tower in pictures!
Photo By: (Echiner1)
Guide to the Duomo Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Okay everybody! It’s time for an Italian lesson! The easiest way to refer to the breathtaking Florence landmark of which I’m writing about is the Florence Cathedral. But you can’t say Florence Cathedral when you’re in Florence! Come on, now! The incredible cathedral, which you’ve definitely seen if you’ve viewed any pictures of Florence, is often called the – say it with me – Il Duomo di Firenze. It’s also known as the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore , and translated means the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower. Let’s take a trip to the Basilica di Santa Maria Del Fiore!
Still holding services today, the Florence Cathedral is a Gothic style building that took nearly 200 years to construct. Arnolfo di Cambio designed this amazing structure, and construction commenced in 1296. By 1436, the cathedral was completed – for the most part – and its famous dome, the one you see in all the pictures, was the engineering feat of Filippo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi’s octagonal dome was the first of its kind , composed primarily of brick and built without frame support.
You’ll notice I said the cathedral was completed “for the most part,” that’s because the full exterior of the church wasn’t finished until 1887. Yes, you read that right! It took nearly 500 years to complete the cathedral’s unique exterior, and what makes it so unique are the colors chosen to adorn this glorious building. The basilica of the cathedral is covered in pink, green, and white marble – unusual colors to say the least! The exterior façade, designed by Emilio De Fabris, is considered 19th-century Gothic Revival architecture.
Despite the extended period of time it took to complete the outside of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the church was consecrated on the Florentine calendar’s first of the year in 1436, which was March 25. Pope Eugene IV oversaw the blessing, and this amazing cathedral is a must-see for any visitor planning a trip to Italy… and the cathedral isn’t the only thing you have to see !
Aside from the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore’s groundbreaking architectural style and beauty, its entire complex also attracts many visitors annually. You see, you aren’t just going to see the cathedral and Brunelleschi’s dome. The grounds, which the Italian’s call the Piazza del Duomo, are also home to the Battistero di San Giovanni – the Baptistery of Saint John – and Giotto’s Campanile, which is one heck of a bell tower by Giotto di Bondone. These amazing structures are part of the reason why Florence, Italy receives nearly 2 million visitors a year, so let’s break them down!
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore
There are many things to see inside the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Visitors naturally clamor to view the inside of Brunelleschi’s dome. Sixteenth century artist Giorgio Vasari envisioned painting the dome’s internal frescoes with an elaborate portrayal of the Last Judgment. Vasari’s student, Frederico Zuccari, immortalized Vasari’s vision by painting the inside of the dome in 1579.
Another interesting feature inside the basilica is a clock designed by Paolo Uccello in 1443. This clock was crafted to keep time according to the ora italica, which basically places the end of the day – or the 24th hour – at sunset instead of midnight. Despite its 700 year age, the clock still keeps time in the basilica today.
Battistero di San Giovanni
The Baptistery of Saint John is considered a “minor basilica” in religious status; it is also one of Florence’s oldest buildings. The baptistery boasts the Florentine Romanesque architectural style, and it was built between 1059 and 1128 A.D. Aside from the building itself, people flock to the baptistery annually to see what Michelangelo dubbed the “ Gates of Paradise .”
Adorning the baptistery are three sets of bronze doors, designed by artists Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti. Pisano designed the baptistery’s south doors, and Ghiberti designed the baptistery’s north and east doors. The original doors were replicated and replaced in 1990 due to years of climate damage. Visitors can enjoy the replicas, hanging on the baptistery where the originals once stood, and some of the originals inside the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
Standing tall and proud adjacent to the Florence Cathedral is Giotto’s Bell Tower . Giotto designed his bell tower in the Gothic architectural style, and it is adorned in a glorious marble façade and sculptural decor. Standing 277.9 feet tall, the tower boasts five levels. Its windows, lozenges, and ornate panels are truly something to see up close.
Within the tower hang seven bells. The Campanone, which is the largest of the ringers, was commissioned in 1705 and cast by Antonio Petri. The tower’s “mercy bell,” the La Misericorida was hung in 1830 after being cast by Carlo Moreni. The remaining five bells were all cast by P. Barigozzi and are, respectively, the Annunziata; the Mater Dei, “God’s Mother Bell”; the L’Assunta; and the L’Immacolata, all hung in 1956. The tower’s final bell, the Apostolica, was hung in 1957.
As you can see, there is a lot to see on the grounds of the Piazza del Duomo. Some of the world’s most intricate and famous architecture sits on these hallowed grounds, adorned by some of history’s most famous and influential artists. Florence is known as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and this historic city held extensive influence over medieval Europe. When visiting Italy, make certain Florence and the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore are on your itinerary. Voi non ve ne pentirete! You won’t regret it!