The Duomo - The cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore
The cathedral of Florence is located in Piazza del Duomo, in the heart of the old town of Florence.
Address : Piazza del Duomo
Opening hours of the cathedral : Open every day from 10:45 to 16:30. Closed on Sundays.
Price of the cathedral: free.
Schedule of the dome: Open every day from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm, Saturday from 8:30 am to 5:40 pm and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Paying (see below for details). Reservation for the visit to the dome is obligatory even with the Firenze card and can be made at the time of ticket purchase.
Campanile opening hours: Open every day from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm. Chargeable (see below for details).
Santa Reparata Crypt Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Thursday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:45 pm. Closed on Sunday. Charge (see below for details).
Price: 20€ for the dome, 10€ for the baptistery, 15€ for the campanile, 25€ for the terrace and 15€ for the crypt of Santa Reparata (access to the cathedral is free). Valid for 72 hours.
It was at the end of the 13th century that the City Council (Priorat) decided to replace the old cathedral of Santa Reparata (Virgin Martyr died in 250 AD at the age of 15) with a building worthy of Florence, in imitation of Siena and Pisa. The project was entrusted to the architect Arnolfo di Cambio, but when he died in 1302 the work had barely begun.
In 1334 Giotto took over the work, but devoted himself mainly to the campanile. Several architects succeeded him in completing the naves and the drum of the dome. The elevation of the dome remained unresolved until the intervention of Filipino Brunelleschi in 1423. He opted for a double-capped dome, an internal one with fishbones and self-supporting rings and a very light external one.
The work was completed in 1436, but the lantern crowning the dome was not put in place until 1461.
The original facade was demolished in 1587 and replaced by the project of Emilio de Fabrice in 1887. This pastiche, although dazzling, is widely disparaged by purists.
The facade, is, whatever one says, worthy of interest. The colored marbles, the mosaic, the numerous statues give an impression of power, but without heaviness.
The bronze doors also deserve attention.
Walk around the cathedral from the left to appreciate its white, green and pink marble volume, as well as the windows and doors for their sculptures.
The tympanum of the Porta della Mandorla represents the Assumption of the Virgin.
Don't be surprised to see the base of the dome which, for aesthetic reasons, leaves the brickwork bare, following Michelangelo's mockery that a first gallery looked like "a cricket cage".
You will arrive at the campanile designed by Giotto but completed by Francesco Talenti. It is decorated with bas-reliefs and statues, works of the greatest masters of the Renaissance, the originals are in the Duomo museum. The 28 hexagonal panels by Andrea Pisano and Luca della Robbia illustrate creation and various human activities. The access to the top (414 steps) offers a remarkable view of Florence.
One feels a certain disappointment when entering this immense nave because its sobriety contrasts sharply with the exuberance of the exterior.
Turn around to see a curious clock whose large hand turns backwards indicating the hours of prayer beginning at night.
The two frescoes by condottieri Nicolo da Talentino and John Hawkwood imitate, certainly for economy, bronze.
For the lovers of the Divine Comedy, a fresco represents Dante in front of the city and its monuments. The dome of Brunelleschi is decorated with a huge fresco of the Last Judgment painted by Vasari.
Photo : Gryffindor Wikipedia 2008.
The cantors' tribunes, which overlooked the entrances to the two sacristies, are now in the Duomo Museum. It is possible to go down to the crypt to see the foundations of the ancient cathedral and to go up to the dome (463 steps) to see the technical feat of building the dome.