The Baptistery of Saint John – Battistero di San Giovanni
The Baptistery of Saint John is located in front of the Duomo (cathedral).
Address: Piazza del Duomo.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 8:15 am to 10:15 am and from 11:15 am to 8:00 pm and on Sunday from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. The first Saturday of the month from 8:30 am to 2 pm.
Price: 18 € for the combined ticket including the dome, the baptistery, the campanile, the crypt of Santa Reparata and the Museum of the Opera del Duomo. Valid for 78 hours.
Built on an ancient Roman house, the baptistery is an octagon of white and green marble with a pyramidal roof. Initially a cathedral, it became a baptistery in 1128. Its size allowed it to accommodate baptisms that were performed only once or twice a year.
South door - it is the first work in bronze executed in Florence. It was designed by a Pisan Andrea Pisano and cast by a Venetian Leonardo d'Avanzo. The 28 four-lobed panels illustrate the life of Saint John the Baptist and at the base the cardinal virtues. Initially placed in front of the cathedral, it was replaced by the door of Paradise by Ghiberti.
North door - Following a competition between Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti, the latter was chosen and worked on it for 20 years.
He took up the four-lobed motif of 28 panels, but innovated by introducing perspective in scenes full of characters and naturalistic details. They represent scenes of Jesus.
The lower 8 panels are dedicated to the Evangelists and Fathers of the Church.
East door - The north door having pleased the draper's guild, they commissioned Ghiberti and it was to become the door of Paradise, so named by Michelangelo.
Ghiberti innovated by adopting 10 rectangular panels, illustrating scenes from the Old Testament, but with several episodes in the same frame.
He applied the laws of optical perspective, reducing the proportions of the images while maintaining an incredible wealth of detail.
The original panels are in the Duomo Museum, where you can contemplate them at your leisure outside the crowds of people gathered in front of the facsimiles.
The interior is divided into two floors, the second being a gallery of false windows corresponding to those outside, allowing light to enter.
The granite columns certainly come from the ancient Roman Capitol. The statue of the tomb in gilded bronze is that of the antipope John XXIII realized by Donatello.
Looking up you will be dazzled by the richness and complexity of the mosaics on the ceiling, in the Byzantine style, cut into concentric circles and divided into quarters, they relate episodes from Genesis, the lives of Jesus and Mary and of course that of Saint John the Baptist. A grandiose Christ, showing his wounds, is surrounded by scenes of the Last Judgment.