It's like going to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower, it's like going to New York and not see the Statue of Liberty or going to Athens and not see the Acropolis. Everyone who has been to Florence (Firenze) will say you gotta see the Duomo! It is spectacular! But, on our trip to Italy, we saw many spectacular churches and cathedrals. The preservation of history and hosting many visitors from around the world is a feat in itself. The church is HUMONGOUS! There is absolutely no way to get a photo of the entire building. The phenomenon on the construction of the Duomo is hard to imagine. If you really think about it, there are no supports in the center and just the sheer curvature of the enormous dome structure keeps itself up and for hundreds and hundreds of years!
I will suggest the climb to the top. It's not easy but if you think you can do it, you should. The views are amazing from up top. There is a separate entrance to the side to make the climb.
Please see my travelogue for more pics!
As I have said many times and repeat here the structures made to "house" and "present gods" are made to be impressive, and the Duomo here in Florence is no different.
From the imposing front entrance seen in the first photo, through the second and third photos showing the sheer size of the structure with its various portals. The fourth photo shows some of the scaffolding that was covering various parts of this emmense building when we visited.
The last photo shows the detached tower that runs as high as the cupola itself. Here in the Duomo, you have to pay for the priviledge to climb the cupola and then pay AGAIN to climb the tower.
From the stairs to the gallery you will find some nice views (photos 1+2) out over the rooftops of Florence, this in itself would be sufficient to climb those 400+stairs.
The third photo shows the open plaza adjoining the Duomo and where the tower is found.
The fourth photo shows one of the beautifuly carved wooden doors leading into the main area of the Duomo. This one was special for me since it was inscribed in Hebrew (the language in Israel where I live), the original language of the ancient religious texts.
The last photo shows the entranc door and arch, impressive as most buildings belonging to a group of structures whose purpose is to "impress" upon one the importance of the religion it serves. This particular Duomo (cathedral) is actually less ornate than many we have seen in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and other Europen countries.
While up in the gallery, don't forget to look DOWN, not only up at the Cupola. Looking down and seeing all the small ant like activity below makes you realize just how high you are.
Things to see on the way UP to the gallery are views over the city and this pantheon of saints in a closed off gallery about half way up.
Of course the main floor does not lack for artistic details and things to see, like this clock and floor detail.
If you want to learn what Heaven and Hell will be like, then visit the Duomo here in Florence. You will also get a chance to see some views of the rooftops of Florence, I will put some photos later.
Only two words of caution about climbing to the topmost gallery to view this, first is that there are over 400 stairs, the way is narrow and not well ventilated, second is that the viewwing gallery itself is very narrow and if you are slightly overweight it may cause problems. Also the plastic protective barrier around the gallery is about 3 meters high and very scratched and faded making it difficult to photograph the cupola.
The Duomo is the number one must see in Florence.
The building of the Cathedral began in 1296 and took nearly 150 years to complete.
It is a pretty fabulous sight, with its stunning white, green and pink marble facade.
Its huge interior is very sparsely decorated which is quite a contract to the outside.
It is free to visit the Cathedral, with a charge to visit the underground crypt (around 3 euros)
Also as part of your visit you can climb to the top of the Dome (for around 6 euros) , for amazing views across Florence.
When you are inside the fabulous Florence Cathedral, wander down to the far end and look up!
The inside of the huge Dome is covered with frescoes depicting what appears to be Heaven and Hell.
It is pretty spectacular......though some of the images are a bit gross!
If you decide to climb to the outside-top of the Dome, half way through the climb you will pop out and find yourself up near the top of the inner Dome, where you can get a much better look at the frescoes.
An amazing site to behold. The dome took hundereds of years to build and used construction methods never tested, but allowed the structure to support itself as it was built.
I woudl stongly suggest reading the book Brunelleschi' Dome, a book that deatils the construction of the dome and offers and interesting insight to the culture of the time. A pretty easy read.
My first view of the Duomo was of part of its iconic dome from the room of my hotel room.
From street level, my first view was on arriving from Via de' Cerretani, so it was of the 19th Century neo-gothic facade. As it was quite dark and raining, I didn't get such a good view.
My previous few Christmas Eves' I'd attended midnight Mass in the Basilica San Marco in Venice. I'd decided that I'd attend that nights service. Apparently the doors open around 21.30
I arrived at around 23.30, and found a standing position near the presepe (the Nativity crib), which had been cordoned off. Although I'm not religious, I do quite enjoy the ceremony, especially as midnight approaches.
to be continued.......
Santa Maria del Fiore, the main cathedral of Florence, probably is the city's most easily recognizable structure. The big orange dome of the duomo can be seen from quite a few streets away, and as you get closer, you begin to recognize the distinctive white, green and pink marble design on the facade. From the outside, it has to be one of the most beautiful churches in the world - at least, it's the most beautiful one I've ever seen! Construction of the duomo began in 1296 and lasted until 1436. The duomo is huge, measuring 153 m in length and reaching a height of 90 m under the dome; it's estimated that 20,000 people can easily fit inside. In contrast to its exterior design, the interior of the duomo is surprisingly sober, but still very impressive. My favourite features were the mosaics covering the entire floor of the cathedral, as well as the fresco painted inside the dome, which two painters, Vasari and Zuccari, took 10 years to complete.
Access to the cathedral itself is free, which is great, but for everything else - baptistery, campanile, dome, museum, archeological site - you need to pay, for a grand total of 27 Euros (yikes!) per person. Have I mentioned that Florence is expensive?!
The first time I went to Florence i climbed the Bell Tower. There were various rest stops along the way, but there is still a sign that says do not climb if you have a heart problem!
On my second trip I climbed the Duomo, and have to say this was by far the more interesting climb and view at the top. Narrow steps, waiting for others to descend, walking around the insided of the dome, and then the final ascent on a curved stairwell all make it worthwhile.
At the top the views are spectacular, and walking around people and staying away from just a railing are all a priority. You can see an art student carving a column or just gaze at the marvel that is Florence.
Make this a priority when you visit!
The original church on this site dated to the 5th century, having been built on the site of an ancient Roman temple. By the end of the 13th century, Florence had grown rich, and the guilds pooled their resources and hired Arnolfo di Cambio to design a grand cathedral worthy of this city.
Construction went on for generations, throughout the entire 14th century and into the next. The dome, still the third largest of any Christian church (after St Peter's and St Paul's), was finished in 1434, and the great cathedral was finally consecrated in 1436.
The Baptistry, in front of the Cathedral, was also built atop the site of a Roman temple, starting in the 5th century. And like the Cathedral, it took all of the 14th century to build. Generations of artists added to it. The huge bronze doors, designed by Ghiberti, are probably the most famous feature.
The Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore was designed in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio to replace the preexisting Church of Santa Reparata. The Duomo was completed in 1436 by Brunelleschi. The Duomo is the 4th largest church in the world - 153m long by 38 m wide.
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral church the Duomo of Florence Construction begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white and has an elaborate 19th century Gothic Revival facade by Emilio De Fabris.
The cathedral complex includes the Baptistry and Giotto's Campanile. The basilica is one of Italy's largest churches, and until the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed. The cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florence.
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore or otherwise known as the Duomo, was begun in 1296 in accordance with the designs of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed in 1436 by the crowning of its magnificent dome.
After winning an architectural competition in 1419 against Lorenzo Ghilberti (and supported by Cosimo de Medici), Filippo Brunelleschi began constructing his dome in 1420 and completed it in 1436. It was the first octagonal dome in history and to this day remains the largest brick dome in the world. Details of its construction are retold in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and would entertain any architectural amateur such as myself.
Although one’s eyes are immediately drawn to the dome, as one approaches the cathedral, the carnivalesque delight that is the façade quickly becomes apparent. Interestingly enough, the façade had remained unadorned for much of its history even though Giotto had drawn up plans for its decoration. It wasn’t until the nineteenth century when Emilio de Fabris began resurfacing the front of the church in neo-gothic style using the same white, green and red marble to be found on the rest of the cathedral. Begun in 1876 and finished in 1887, it is concentrated to the Theotokos.
When one enters the Duomo, one is struck by its surprising starkness. The greatest exception is the vast fresco of The Last Judgement, begun by Vasari in 1568 and finished by Zuccaro in 1579 which adorns the interior of Brunelleschi’s dome. Also noteworthy are the sporadic frescos and large clock decorated by Paolo Uccello.
Of course a cathedral cannot be complete without its campanile or bell-tower, Florence’s Duomo has had the fortune of being bestowed one by Giotto. I was surprised to discover that the artist, so universally recognised as a master of the art of fresco painting, was also a recognised medieval architect. It’s incredible to see how he was able to transfer his sense of pastel beauty to a much colder medium, that of marble. Nonetheless, his white, green and red marbled masterpiece standing 84.7 m. (or 277.9 ft.), built from 1334 to 1359, and interwoven with lozenges and niches, stands as a proud achievement of this great artist.
Entrance into the Duomo is free, but to climb the stairs of the dome (as well as the Campanile) is €6.00. I very much loved my numerous visits to this cathedral (both as visitor and to attend mass). One cannot help but marvel at the engineering of the dome and the stark contrast between the exterior and the interior of the building. It is of course a must on any itinerary.
Opening hours: 10.00-17.00 (the first Saturday of every month 10.00-15.30); Thursday 10.00-15.30
Holidays and Sundays: 13.30-17.00