At the end of the Middle Ages, Florence was one of the city states. It wanted to show it by building a cathedral that would put all other cathedrals in its shadow, literally. In 1296, the first stone was laid for what would become Florence's star, so big that 'it put all Tuscans in its shadow' according to a contemporary. He wrote this when the famous architect Brunelleschi finished the enormous dome of the cathedral, together with the belltower the main eyecatcher of the building. The dome was finished only in the 15th century and is, in fact, not completely in the Gothic style of the rest of the cathedral.
In front of the Cathedral, officially called Santa Maria del Fiore, lies the octagonal Baptistery, which is actually older than the Cathedral. This becomes especially clear when you go inside, and you see the brilliant Byzantine mosaics covering the ceiling. Also of particular importance are the doors on three sides of the building. Especially the last pair of doors, designed by Ghiberti and dubbed the "Doors of Paradise" by Michelangelo are worth a close look. Ghiberti worked more than 25 years on them, and it shows!
After walking around the Cathedral and the other buildings, the belltower is completely detached from the building, it is time to go inside. Unfortunately, I was not able to climb to the top of the dome, but I did go up the belltower and inside the Cathedral. The view from the belltower is truly spectacular. While I was enjoying it, the bells below started to strike, which resulted in heavenly waves of metallic sounds from below. And then I realized - it was noon.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Florence Cathedral (Italy). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Florence Cathedral.
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