Florence Cathedral

Florence Cathedral, officially known as Santa Maria del Fiore (the Virgin of the Flower), was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296. However, it was not completed until 1436, when Filippo Brunelleschi found a way to build the cathedral’s world famous dome and cupola.

The Cathedral is the third largest church in the world (after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London) and was the largest church in Europe when it was completed in the 15th century. It is 153 metres long, 90 metres wide at the crossing, and 90 metres high from the floor to the bottom of the lantern. The gothic interior is vast, but fairly bare, corresponding with the austerity of religious life. The largest artwork in the cathedral is Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes of the Last Judgement (1572-9). While these frescoes were designed by Vasari, they were mostly painted by his student Frederico Zuccari.

The Florence Cathedral complex, located in Piazza del Duomo, includes the Baptistery of St. John, and the Campanile. All three are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Visitors can visit the cathedral for free, but there is a ticket for climbing up the 463 steps to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome. The climb can be difficult at times, with a narrow, winding staircase through extremely cramped corridors, but the view of Florence from the top of the dome is truly spectacular. There are several tour operators that offer tickets but you need to book well in advance.


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