Considered the fourth largest cathedral in Europe, Florence's Duomo is big on everything, except the interiors. The rich, dramatic symphony of white, green and pink marble neogothic facade reveals a very sparse interior within (picture 3) - quite an anti-climactic experience for me. The only two areas that possess considerable artistic expressions are the dome with frescoes of the Last Judgment by Vasari and the marbleworks on the floor which were designed in part by Baccio d'Agnolo and Francesco da Sangallo.
But this is not being fair to this magnificent cathedral which took 150 years to complete from the time construction began in 1296 based on the design of a Sienese (yes, from Florence's main rival, Siena) architect Arnolfo di Cambio. The rich marble creations that adorn all sides of the giant edifice are a sight to behold as are some rather interesting figures of the holy and saintly, and the not-so-holy-and-saintly (picture 4). Towering above, of course, is the iconic red-tiled dome by Brunelleschi, which had become quite a symbol for the city itself. While the dome was completed in 1463, the neo-gothic facade is a more recent creation (c. 1880s) by Emilio de Fabris.
Brunelleschi found a way to build it without scaffolding risin up from the cathedral floor but, for support, used the base of the drum that the dome sits upon. He built it by a method he found using varying size bricks in a herringbone pattern that was used in the Pantheon in Rome. There is a inner shell that supports the outer shell.
The result was this impressive huge cupola. If you click on the picture you will see how small people look at the top of it...
Together with the bridge Ponte Vecchio I'm quite sure that Il Duomo is the most famous thing in Florence.
Il Duomo, or as it's really called, Santa Maria del Fiori, was built in 1294, on the top of the old cathedral, Santa Reparata.
It took 170 years, but finally the new Cathedral was in place. It was by the way designed by Brunelleschi, for those of you who might be interested in that.
The piazza in front of the Duomo is always crowded with people. For some reason everyone seems to decide that they will meet right there! Quite stupid if you ask me... Although I have done the same stupid mistake me too...
I directly fell in love with the Duomo on my first visit in Florence. The pink color that goes through the whole building catched me in some way (don't want to think of what that might mean...? ;) ). When I, on my second visit to the city, finally had the time to enter the cathedral too, I got instead very disappointed. I had hoped it would be something like the Duomo in Milano, but nothing like that.
That thing that made me sad most of all, I think, was that there wasn't even candles that you could light up, and think of those you had left home on the trip.
Still the Duomo is fantastic, and I still haven't managed to climb those 463 steps that takes you to the top (as I, as always, haven't found the entrance for that... Could someone please give me a map next time...?), and I always go there on my Florence-trips.
For those of you who likes to take photos when you're away, bring a special camera... The cathedral is so big, and the piazza is so small, that it's almost impossible to get the whole building to fit in just one photo...
See my updates in my next tip, as this apparently was too long for VT... ;)
The Duomo is said to be the centrepiece of the Florentine city, towering above all over buildings. And it's true-- though I think I speak for many tourists when I say that the exterior rather than the interior provides a greater source of fascination. After the stunning greeting by the facade, the interior is compartively simpler and somewhat of a letdown. In fact, many other smaller churches prove to be more fascinating in their interior decor.
At first sight, the structure can only be described as overwhelming-- in size, in build and in detail. To fully take it all in, I dare say you will need the better of an hour just spent craning your neck and exploring every motif and floral pattern that bedecks this jewel. And that's just one hour for the FRONT of the the Duomo. To take it all in, you will not only need time, but stamina and a true art aficionado's passion. In fact, judging by the size of its perimeters, it could be fashioned into a make-shift running track, should you find the need to exercise during your trip here.
Yes. It is that big.
For a panoramic view of the city, pay and climb the Duomo's dizzying tower.
IN A NUTSHELL: If you're short on cash, save the entrance fee as the exterior is a good deal more elaborate and rewarding than what's inside.
One of the most known landmarks of Florence is the Duomo. Maybe few knows before the trip that the church is actually named 'Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore', a very nice name. This church being the biggest in Florence (and one of the biggest in the world) is also called Duomo. It is really big - 153 meters long, 38 meters wide at the nave and 90 meters at the transept. The present day basilica was built upon a pre-existing church from the 4-5th cent. The building of the Duomo started in 1296 by the architect A. di Cambio, and it took 140 years(!) to complete, many architects took turn supervising the construction. The facade was the most impressive for me, made by architect E. De Fabris, inspired by a drawing of A. di Cambio based upon the glorification of Madonna. Above the main door you will see a Gallery of the Apostles and in the centre the Virgin and the Child.
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.
Good luck getting a picture of the entirity :) This is huge and will definitely take your breath away. In fact, it's probably the first thing in Florence you'll see.
There is a HUGE past dealing with the architecture and size. There are even books on it (and I've read a few). I'm including information from Wikipedia but you can find multitudes on the importance and history of this building. The maximum allowance of words does not do the history and architectural magnificence justice.
"The basilica was built on the site of a previous cathedral, Santa Reparata (locals of Florence continued to call the Cathedral by this former name for some time after reconstruction), and was inspired by the new cathedrals in Pisa and Siena. By the end of the 13th century, the nine-centuries-old church of Santa Reparata was crumbling with age, as attested in documents of that time such as the Nuova Cronica of Giovanni Villani (1276–1348). Furthermore, it had become too small in a period of rapid population expansion. Prosperous Florence also wanted to exceeded in size by Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, the Seville Cathedral, and the Milan Cathedral.
The new church was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296 (although the design was altered several times and later reduced in size). Arnolfo di Cambio was also the famous architect of the church of Santa Croce and the Palazzo Vecchio. He designed three wide naves ending under the octagonal dome, with the middle nave covering the area of Santa Reparata. The first stone was laid on September 9, 1296 by Cardinal Valeriana, the first papal legate ever sent to Florence. The building of this vast project was to last 170 years, the collective efforts of several generations.
The cathedral is built as a basilica, with a nave and two aisles, forming a Roman cross. The nave and the aisles are divided by wide pointed arches with composite pilasters, dividing the nave into four square bays.
Its dimensions are enormous: length 153 metres (502 ft), width 38 metres (124 ft), width at the crossing 90 metres (295 ft). The height of the arches in the aisles is 23 metres (75 ft). The height from pavement to the opening of the lantern in the dome is also 90 metres (295 ft).
The Gothic interior is vast and gives an empty impression. The relative bareness of the church corresponds with the austerity of religious life, as preached by Girolamo Savonarola.
Many decorations in the church have been lost in the course of time, or have been transferred to the Museum Opera del Duomo, such as the magnificent cantorial pulpits (the singing galleries for the choristers) of Luca della Robbia and Donatello."
Bus: 1, 6, 17, 14, 22, 23, 36, 37, or 71
Hours: Church Mon-Wed and Fri 10am-5pm; Thurs 10am-3:30pm; 1st Sat of month 10am-3:30pm, other Sat 10am-4:45pm; Sun 1:30-4:30pm. Cupola Mon-Fri 8:30am-6:20pm; Sat 8:30am-5pm (first Sat of month to 3:20pm)
Cost: Admission to church free; Santa Reparata excavations 3€ ($3.45); cupola 6€ ($6.90), free for children under 6
Tours: Free tours every 40 min. daily, 10:30am-noon and 3-4:20pm.
This magnificent bell tower was designed in 1334 by Giotto but he died before he finished it. Work halted until 1349 when it was continued by Andrea Pisano and finished by Francesco Talenti in 1359. Both of the latter are said to have scrupulously followed the original design. Indeed, it it hard to see that they could have improved upon it! The exception is that Giotto's design included a terminal spire which was never added. It is 414 steps to the top (247 feet or 82 meters) and well worth the climb for the views, including being able to see Brunelleschi's great dome from on high.
The center of Florence is dominated by the huge cathedral, the Duomo.Both the outside
with the many,many sculptures and ornaments and the huge space inside are overwhelming.
Since it was off-season, not too many people were inside and I could really feel
the impact of the wide space. This feeling will be lost in high-season, I think.
There were candle-trees, where you can pay for a candle, light it and say a prayer.
We didn't go up to the cupola, as this was the only place where there was quite a long line.
Instead we went downstairs to the old crypt.
Here you can visit the cathedral; S. Maria del Fiore. It was built over the church of Santa Reparata between 1296 and 1436. It is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. Beside it there is the bell tower; designed by Giotto in 1334. After his death the work was carried on by Andrea Pisano and later completed in 1359 by Francesco Talenti. It is 85 meters tall. In front of the cathedral there is the batipstery. It is said it is of Roman origin. The structure you see dates back to the XI century. The baptistery is covered in white and green marble. Dante and other famous people were baptized here.
Work on the new cathedral, begun in 1296, was interrupted in 1302 when Arnolfo di Cambio died. His place as masterbuilder was taken by Giotto, in 1334. Due to a social situation and certain natural calamities, the construction of the cathedral slowed down. After Giotto's death, in 1337, Andrea Pisano, Francesco Talenti and Giovanni di Lapo Ghini worked on the cathedral. The building was finished in 1375 with the exception of the dome. The competition for its construction was won in 1420 by Brunelleschi who proposed to build the enormous aerial structure without the use of fixed centring. The dome was finished in 1434 and the cathedral was finally consecrated in 1436. The lantern, at the top of the dome, was also designed by Brunelleschi but its formal and architectural details had not been defined. It was designed and completed by Verrocchio.
The interior is very spacious, both in height and width, following the dictates of Italian Gothic architecture. The most prestigious artists of the age have took place in adorning the cathedrals interior: Nanni di Bartolo, Donatello, Niccolo da Tolentino, Andrea del Castagno, Paolo Uccello, Giorgio Vasari and Giotto of course.
The construction of the Duomo took almost 500 years. It was built on the same ground where the old cathedral of S. Reparata had been. The statues and the mosaics on the facade have been made between the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century.
In the square in front of the church every year, at Easter, the traditional and famous explosion of the Carro takes place, after a dove has flown from the altar inside the Duomo to the Baptistry.