Battistero San Giovanni & Gate of Paradise, Florence

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  • Battistero San Giovanni & Gate of Paradise
    by brendareed
  • Battistero San Giovanni & Gate of Paradise
    by brendareed
  • Battistero San Giovanni & Gate of Paradise
    by brendareed
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    Baptistry Doors #3 - East ("Gates of Paradise")

    by brendareed Updated Jun 15, 2014
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    Ghiberti did these doors as well, but there was no competition for them in 1430; he was just asked to do them. These panels are completely different; not only are the gold, but they are square and there are only ten of them. These panels show scenes from the Old Testament. More time had elapsed since the second set of doors and art was progressing to show an increasing level of emotion and the perspective creates an illusion of depth. This perspective can especially be seen in the panel that shows the story of Jacob and Esau – look at the architecture behind the front scene.

    Also, look up. As your eyes go up, notice how the reliefs are designed for your eyes – they are actually made with the idea that the top ones would be seen from standing on the ground and looking up at them, so the relief (or 3D parts) are larger.

    Before you finish with these doors, look at the small heads in the frames around the panels. On the center left, count four heads down. That is Ghiberti’s self portrait – a sort of signature on his masterpiece.

    These doors have the unofficial name of "Gates of Paradise" because it is said that Michaelangelo called them that after he looked at them. The name kind of stuck.

    These are not the real doors created by Ghiberti – those are being restored and will remain in the Cathedral Museum to protect the art from the weather. The ones on the Baptistry now are exact copies.

    The doors are best viewed in the early morning before all the tourists come around. The first time I saw them was mid-afternoon and it was time consuming and difficult to get a good view until I worked my way through the crowd to the front. But in the early morning, you can have the doors all to yourself! Well worth getting out a little earlier in the day!

    All this great art for free…only in Florence!

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    Baptistry Doors #2 - North

    by brendareed Written Jun 14, 2014
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    The city decided to have a competition for a second set of doors. The winner would get to design and create them. This is the famous competition between Ghiberti (who won) and Brunelleschi (who didn’t win but went on to build the dome to the Cathedral). The actual competition entries can be found in the Bargello Museum in the Donatello Room (see my tip). Ghiberti’s entry won because of its unique use of landscape, its classical styling, its sense of emotion, and, oh yes, it was made all in one piece so it would be cheaper to make the doors (something those paying for the doors and selecting the winner appreciated).

    So from the first set of doors on the south side, walk to your left around the Baptistry until you come to the next set of doors, the north side and the entrance to the interior of the building. Reminder - there are no doors on the west side.

    Here you will see the second set of doors, created by Ghiberti in 1404. It only took him 28 years to finish these. Actually, the process of creating bronze reliefs or statues was very tedious (something Ghiberti was good at since he was trained as a goldsmith). But maybe he could’ve finished them sooner if he hadn’t kept accepting other commissions during this same time.

    The second set of doors shows scenes from the New Testament and the life of Christ. Try to find the baptism scene and compare it to the one on the first set of doors. Notice how much more realistic the water is now? Times were changing and Renaissance ideas were being seen in the artwork. These reliefs were just beginning to show emotion, action, and depth.

    Now return to the third set of doors on the east side – the golden ones - my next tip will cover those.

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    Baptistry Doors #1 - South

    by brendareed Written Jun 14, 2014
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    The first set of doors, the earliest set which are located on the south side of the Baptistry, was created by Andreas Pisano back in the 1330s and show scenes from the life of John the Baptist. These were made before the great plague that took thousands of Florentine (and other European) lives. The doors are made of bronze relief and use the Gothic quatrefoil design. And there are 28 separate panels with reliefs on this door. But artist had not improved too much in the medieval times and artists still were not creating realistic works that showed depth.

    If you look closely at the figures, you’ll see stout, hearty people showing very little emotion. At this time in history, artists didn’t use nature of landscape unless it related to the story (because these were supposed to tell a story so the illiterate populace could understand). A good panel to find is the Baptism of Jesus on the left door. See the “wall of water” that shows Jesus’ legs? Not very realistic for sure.

    Originally, these doors had the top spot on the east side of the Baptistry (where the golden "Gates of Paradise" doors are now) but were later moved to the south side to make room for Ghiberti's new doors.

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    The Baptistry and its doors

    by brendareed Written Jun 14, 2014
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    If you’ve done any research on the Baptistry, you’ve read about the doors and the competition between Ghiberti and Brunelleschi. So what’s up with these doors? And how do you know which doors are which?

    First, let’s start with the building itself. The Baptistry is one of the oldest buildings in Florence; it predates the Cathedral and is assumed to have been built in the 6th or 7th century. At one time, most all Catholic babies born in the city were baptized in this building, including Dante and members of the Medici family.

    While you can easily admire the artwork on the doors (they are free to look at!), you can also go inside the Baptistry and see the magnificent mosaic ceiling and complex marble flooring. There is also the tomb of the Antipope John XXIII (from the era of the Great Schism), which was designed by Donatello and Michelozzo Michelozzi (cool name, huh?). The entrance is on the north side of the Baptistry and costs €5. But it's free to look at the doors!

    So, let’s go back to the doors. There are three sets of them – the ones most people pay attention to are the golden ones that face the Cathedral – the “Gates of Paradise” as termed by Michelangelo. These are actually the third set of doors created for the Baptistry and to really appreciate the development of Renaissance art, it is best to look at them in chronological order. So, if you are standing facing the golden doors, go around to your left until you reach the south doors (when you are looking at them, the Cathedral will be to your right).

    My next three tips will continue the story of the doors in chronological order.

    Baptistry Doors #1 - South
    Baptistry Doors #2 - North
    Baptistry Doors #3 - East
    (there are no doors on the west side of the Baptistry).

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    Battistero di San Giovanni

    by croisbeauty Updated Mar 18, 2014

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    The Baptistery of San Giovanni have been built originally around 4th to 5th century, octagonal in plan with a semi-circular apse. In the 11th century it became the city cathedral, since Santa Reparata was being rebuilt. In that circumstances the Baptistery was refaced both inside and out, while in 1128, the smooth pyramidal roof was finished and topped by a lantern with columns. After this works, finished in 1150, the Baptistery looked as it does today.
    Thr three bronze doors of the Baptistery are particularly important. The South door, by Andrea Pisano, is the oldest, decorated with scenes from the Life of San Giovanni the Baptist and the Allegories of the Theologian and CardinalVirtues. The North door with stories from the New Testament is by Lorenzo Ghiberti, with the help of Donatello, Paolo Uccello, Bernardo Ciuffagni and Bernardo Cennini. The Eastern door, known also as the Gates of Paradise with ten panels (now replaced by the copies) representing Stories from the Old Testament is by Lorenzo Ghiberti, and is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of 15th century sculptures.

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    A Night at the Baptistry!

    by EugeneM Written Jul 27, 2013
    The amazing early 13th century gold mosaic cupola!
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    The Baptistry of San Giovanni in Florence is one of the most beautiful spaces I know, a real favorite of mine. Its mosaic cupola is among the most exquisite things your eyes will ever feast on.

    Summer in Florence can be hot and crowded, so why not take advantage of the Baptistry's late summer hours: Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights you'll find it open until 11:00pm! All other days, it stays open until 7:00pm. These hours will be in effect until September 28, 2013.

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    Portals to Paradise

    by goodfish Written Oct 10, 2012

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    Oh gosh, where do I start with this one…

    The Baptistery of St John is part of the Duomo complex and, other than the scavi under church, the oldest of the structures. Information on the thing is all over the place as it has never really been determined exactly how old it is: there’s this ongoing, erroneous myth that it was once a pre-Christian temple. Suffice it to say that a chapel was built over ancient, Roman foundations sometime between the 4th - 5th centuries, probably rebuilt again in the 7th, and again in the 11th. It also wasn't used exclusively for baptisms until the 12th. Over those centuries significant other changes were made: marble cladding and pavement added to the interior (11th/12th), Romanesque-style marble veneer to the exterior and addition of a third, upper story (12th/13th), and intricate, glittering mosaics applied to cupola, apse and other sections of interior (13th/14th).

    And then there are those famous doors: Andrea Pisano’s to the south, and Lorenzo Ghiberti’s to the north and east. The most beautiful - Ghiberti’s bronze “Gates of Paradise” - took 27 years to complete and are now in the cathedral's museum (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo). A copy now serves as a stand-in, and you can see the panel the artist submitted to win the commission at the Bargello.

    The mosaics alone are stunning: this is, in my humble opinion, the real jewel of the Duomo campus and well worth the ticket price. Other highlights include a Donatello tomb of Anti-pope Giovanni XXIII, and gorgeous inlaid 'carpet' pavements - look for the astrological wheel -which radiate out from the center, where the font once stood, to the three entrance doors. This website has some nice pages on the individual panels of the doors, stories and meanings illustrated in the mosaics, and other interesting background: print them out to take along.

    http://www.duomofirenze.it/index-eng.htm

    See the website below for hours and ticket prices. NOTE: the baptistery is considered a sacred site so appropriate dress is required to visit the inside: no uncovered knees or shoulders. Also, no flash, tripods or cell phone use is allowed.

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    The Babtistry

    by Martin_S. Written Jul 24, 2011
    Babtistry, Duomo, Florence, Italy
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    Probably the most architecturaly interesting structure in the Duomo compound is the Babtistry with its multiple arched hexagonal sections and bronze doors. ESPECIALLY the bronze doors, included here in the photos is a closeup of just one of the panels. Beautiful detail.

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    Battistero di San Giovanni

    by aukahkay Written Nov 5, 2009

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    The Baptistery
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    The 11th century Baptistery stands above an ancient Roman building and remained in use until just after WWII. Many famous people, including Dante, were baptised here. The external decoration, in strips of white and green marble, are in geometric patterns. The Renaissance bronze doors of the Baptistery, placed at cardinal points, are universally famous. The eastern door, which Michelangelo called The Gate of Paradise, is by Ghiberti, who in ten large separate panels depicted scenes from the Old Testament.

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    Battistero di San Giovanni

    by JoostvandenVondel Updated Jul 30, 2009

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    Battistero di San Giovanni, Exterior South West
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    Italy's ecclesiastical structures never fail to inspire me and the Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of Saint John) or the Florence Baptistery is no exception.

    Whereas the baptismal font is usually given a separate place within the body of a church, many cathedrals in Southern Europe had a separate structure reserved for the celebration of the first sacrement of Christian life: baptism. Given the sacramental importance of baptism, the baptisteries were splendidly designed to welcome the newest members of the faith and the Battistero di San Giovanni is a perfect example of this.

    The octagonal structure is one of the oldest buildings in Florence, built between 1059 and 1128. It is built in the romanesque style which signifies a mural architecture. Prior to the inventions of buttresses and other methods or architectural support, large buildings had to depend on their outer walls for support which restricted the number and size of windows incorporated in the building. The round arches used were directly inherited from Roman engineering, hence the name romanesque, and most structures were built along strict symmetrical plans, for example, the plan of the baptistery of Florence.

    The baptistery's exterior is clad with the characteristic polychrome (multi-coloured) florentine marble and its doors adorned during the Renaissance with relief sculptures by Lorenzo Ghiberti. The ones you see today are copies, the originals are located in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.

    Whereas the interior of the Duomo may be considered stark in comparison to its exterior, the baptistery's interior is of a splendid opulance, surpassing its exterior. The interior walls are equally clad with highly polished polychromed walls inlaid in geometrical patterns. But its crowning glory is its mosaic ceiling which will capture any visitor's attention for a long, lingering moment. This magnificent work was started by Venetian craftsmen in 1225 and was not completed until the 14th century. The mosic cycle depicts the Last Judgement, stories from the Book of Genesis, of Joseph, of Mary and Christ and of Saint John the Baptist.

    I love this building. It is quite simply a jewel and worth revisiting numerous times. One cannot but look upward in awe at the majestry of the Christ and other mosaics. Do visit close to the closing times when crowds are thinner.

    Opening hours:

    Weekdays: 12.00 pm – 7.00 pm. First Saturday of the month: 8.30 am – 2.00 pm

    Holidays and Sundays: 8.30 am - 2.00 pm. Easter Monday, April 25, May 1: 8.30 am – 7.00 pm

    Entrance fee: €3.00

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    Baptistery - a little disappointing

    by Donna_in_India Updated Jul 5, 2009

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    Door of the Baptistery of St. Giovanni
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    After waiting days for the entrance lines to be of a reasonable length, we finally made it to the Baptistery of St. Giovanni. The Baptistery is believed to be the oldest building in the city, although there is some controversy about that.

    Although the mosaics of the cupola (ceiling) were beautiful, the rest of the Baptistery was very small and plain – and empty. The most beautiful part of the Baptistery are the three bronze doors on the outside, with the nicest being the Gate of Paradise on the east side of the Baptistey. Stories from the Old Testament including the Creation of Adam and Eve and the Sacrifice of Noah are each enclosed with a frame on the door.

    This wouldn't be on my list of must-sees in Florence - especially since you can see the best part - the doors - without entering, but I guess it's one of those sites everyone (including me) will see anyway.

    Get here as early as possible to avoid the tour groups and general crowds!

    Admission charge.

    Hours:
    Monday - Saturday 12:15 p.m. - 7 p.m.
    Sunday 8:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.

    Please note that all visitor information is correct as of this writing.

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    Baptistery

    by jorgec25 Written Jun 16, 2009

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    The Baptistery, near the Duomo is mostly famous for its golden gate. But there is a lot more to see in the interior. It's well worth a visit, even though sometimes the queues at the entrance can be long. Take notice of the beautiful ceilings and statues. There was some small restoration work going on in May 2009, but nothing that can ruin your visit.

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    The Baptistry

    by Tijavi Updated May 29, 2009

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    Mosaic figure of Christ at the front ceiling
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    In a sign of atonement for the Duomo's sparse interiors, the nearby Baptistry's interiors is richly covered in 13th century colorful mosaics. The ones that adorn the ceiling depict the Last Judgment, quite misplaced if you ask me for a building meant to celebrate a child's initiation into Christendom. Outside, it's all works of art galore, not least among them the south door by Andrea Pisano and the east door by Lorenzo Ghiberti. But beware, these are replicas, originals of which are stored at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.

    Dedicated to St the John the Baptist (now this sounds more appropriate), this romanesque octagonal building is one of the oldest in Florence, having been completed in the 11th century.

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    Battistero di San Giovanni

    by lina112 Updated Nov 17, 2008

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    It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1059 and 1128. Until the end of the 19th century, all Catholic Florentines were baptized in this Baptistry. The interior is rather dark, light entering through small windows in the ambulatory and through the lantern. The interior is divided in a lower part with columns and pilasters and an upper part with an ambulatory. The baptistry is crowned by a magnificent mosaic ceiling. The covering of the ceiling started under the direction of the Franciscan friar Jacopo da Torrita and was probably not completed until the 14th century.

    Ticket: 3 Euros

    Es uno de los edificios mas antiguos de Florencia, fue construido entre 1059 y 1128 y es un ejemplo de la arquitectura romana del siglo XI. El interior es bastante oscuro la luz entre a traves de de las pequeñas ventanas del deambulatorio y por los faroles, está dividido por la parte baja con columnas y pilas y la parte de arriba con un deambulatorio. Lo mas destacado del interior es el mosaico del techo, el trabajo se empezó bajo la dirección de Jacopo da Torrita y no se completó hasta el siglo XIV

    Entrada: 3 Euros

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    The Golden Door

    by wilocrek Written Mar 29, 2008

    This is one of the most famous doors in Florence, and why not? Its gold! Located on the east side of the Baptistry, this golden door always has a crowd around it. On each square is a representation of historical religious event in the proper time line. The artistic skill involved is extremely impressive, so don't be turned off by the crowd around it, just fight your way to the front and enjoy!

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