Piazza del Duomo – Florence Cathedral

Santa Maria del Fiore, Piazza del Duomo, Firence, Italija

Website of the Sanctuary

+39 055 2302885

The times of access to the monuments are subject to changes in time due to extraordinary events. The museum will be closed on the first Tuesday of each month.

Florence Cathedral

Santa Maria del Fiore, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, 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 third and last cathedral of Florence, it was dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore, the Virgin of the Flower, in 1412, a clear allusion to the lily, the symbol of the city of Florence.

A single great museum comprising:

  • The Florence Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore,

  • Brunelleschi’s Dome,

  • Giotto’s Bell Tower,

  • The Baptistry of San Giovanni,

  • The Crypt of Santa Reparata and

  • The Opera Museum

If you haven’t seen this, you haven’t seen Florence.

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History of the Florence Cathedral

Consisting of two interconnected ogival shells, the Florence Cathedral’s octagonal dome was erected between 1418 and 1434 to a design which Filippo Brunelleschi entered in a competition in 1418 but which was only accepted, after much controversy, in 1420.

A masterpiece capable of withstanding lightning, earthquakes and the passage of time, it continues to enchant all those who observe it from afar. The dome has a diameter of 45.5 metres, the equivalent of the baptistry in its entirety.

The competition that the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore ran in 1418 was won by Brunelleschi, but work did not get under way until two years later and was not completed until 1434.

The Florence Cathedral was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV on 25 March 1436.

It was built over the second cathedral, which early Christian Florence had dedicated to St. Reparata.

The numerous different styles that we encounter in the building bear witness to changing tastes over the long period of time that elapsed between its foundation and its completion.

The first stone of the façade was laid on 8 September 1296 to a design by Arnolfo di Cambio. Arnolfo worked on the cathedral from 1296 to 1302, designing a basilica with classical volumes based on three broad aisles converging in a vast choir hosting the high altar, itself surrounded by tribunes subsequently crowned by a dome.

Arnolfo’s design was substantially different from the church’s current structure, as we can see from the outside. If we look at the northern and southern sides of the building, we will note that the first four windows on each side are lower, narrower and closer together than those to the east of them, which are part of an extension built by Francesco Talenti who was master of the works in the mid-14th century.

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Santa Maria del Fiore, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, 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.

Timetables: 

  • Cathedral 10:00-17:00
  • Dome 08:30-18:20 
  • Baptistry 08:15-10:15 / 11:15-18:30 
  • Bell Tower 08:15-18:50 
  • Crypt 10:00-17:00 
  • Museum 09:00-21:00

Cathedral
Santa Maria del Fiore, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, 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 third and last cathedral of Florence, it was dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore, the Virgin of the Flower, in 1412, a clear allusion to the lily, the symbol of the city of Florence.

Dome
Consisting of two interconnected ogival shells, the cathedral’s octagonal dome was erected between 1418 and 1434 to a design which Filippo Brunelleschi entered in a competition in 1418 but which was only accepted, after much controversy, in 1420.

A masterpiece capable of withstanding lightning, earthquakes and the passage of time, it continues to enchant all those who observe it from afar. The dome has a diameter of 45.5 metres, the equivalent of the baptistry in its entirety.

Baptistry
The Baptistry of San Giovanni, one of the most ancient churches in Florence, sits opposite the city’s cathedral, the church of Santa Maria del Fiore.

Octagonal in plan, it is totally clad in slabs of white Carrara and green Prato marble. It is covered by a dome of eight segments resting on perimetral walls, but the dome cannot be detected from the outside because it is concealed by the walls being raised above the arcade on the second level and crowned by a flattened pyramidal roof.

This fascinating structure, combining faith, history and art, has given scholars much food for thought with regard to its dating.

Giotto’s Bell Tower
Giotto’s bell tower is one of the four principal monuments on the Piazza del Duomo.

84.7 metres tall and approximately 15 metres in breadth, it is the most eloquent example of 14th century Gothic architecture in Florence, combining a strong vertical thrust with the principle of sound solidity, its corner buttresses rising the full length of the tower to the projecting terrace at the top.

Clad in white, red and green marble like the cathedral adjacent to it, the majestic square bell tower, considered to be the most beautiful campanile in Italy and probably designed more for decorative than for functional purposes, was begun by Giotto in 1334.

Crypt of Santa Reparata
A major archaeological dig beneath the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore from 1965 to 1973 brought to light the remains of the old basilica of Santa Reparata, the most tangible evidence of early Christianity in Florence after the disappointing results from a dig in Santa Felicita and the difficulty in finding documentary references to the city’s first cathedral of San Lorenzo.

Now just over two and a half metres separate us from the ancient early Christian basilica of Florence, which was restored on more than one occasion and also used as a meeting hall by the Parliament of the Republic before the construction of Palazzo Vecchio.

Opera Museum
The Museum of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore houses the second most extensive collection of sacred art in the world after the Vatican Museums with masterpieces by such artists as Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Luca della Robbia, Antonio Pollaiuolo and Michelangelo. Its collections consist of statues and paintings produced for the baptistry, the bell tower and the cathedral of Florence that have been removed from their original position and taken out of daily liturgical use either for purposes of conservation or in the course of alterations and modernisation programmes.

The Florence Duomo Mass Schedule for those who would like to attend services:

Weekdays:

  • 7:30
  • 9:00 10:30 (Gregorian Chants)
  • 12:00 & 6:00 pm (with organ)

Sundays & holidays:

  • 7:30
  • 8:30
  • 9:30
  • 10:30
  • 11:30 & 6:00 pm (in Baptistery)

There is no line to go in the church for religious ceremonies.

Santa Maria del Fiore, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, 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 third and last cathedral of Florence, it was dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore, the Virgin of the Flower, in 1412, a clear allusion to the lily, the symbol of the city of Florence.

It was built over the second cathedral, which early Christian Florence had dedicated to St. Reparata.

The numerous different styles that we encounter in the building bear witness to changing tastes over the long period of time that elapsed between its foundation and its completion.

The first stone of the façade was laid on 8 September 1296 to a design by Arnolfo di Cambio. Arnolfo worked on the cathedral from 1296 to 1302, designing a basilica with classical volumes based on three broad aisles converging in a vast choir hosting the high altar, itself surrounded by tribunes subsequently crowned by a dome.

Arnolfo’s design was substantially different from the church’s current structure, as we can see from the outside. If we look at the northern and southern sides of the building, we will note that the first four windows on each side are lower, narrower and closer together than those to the east of them, which are part of an extension built by Francesco Talenti who was master of the works in the mid-14th century.

Arnolfo managed to complete two bays and half of the new façade. His sculptures were to be removed to the Opera’s Historical Museum in 1586 because Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici had ordered the construction of a new façade.

Work on the building site slowed down when Arnolfo died in around 1310, only resuming for good in 1331 when the magistrates of the Arte della Lana, or Guild of Wool Manufacturers and Merchants, took over responsibility for the building. Giotto was appointed master of the works in 1334, devoting most of his time to the erection of the bell tower but he died three years later. His post was filled by Andrea Pisano until 1348, the year of the Black Death which slashed the city’s population from 90,000 to 45,000.

Work continued, despite constant interruptions, until a competition was finally run in 1367. The competition was won by four architects and four painters, including Andrea di Bonaiuto, Benci and Andrea di Cione, Taddeo Gaddi and Neri di Fioravante.

Francesco Talenti held the post of master of the works from 1349 to 1359, completing the bell tower and preparing a new design with the assistance of Giovanni di Lapo Ghini (from 1360 to 1369). The nave was fully vaulted by 1378 and the side aisles by 1380. The tribunes, and possibly also the drum for the dome, were built between 1380 and 1421.

The marble cladding and the decoration of the side entrances continued apace in the meantime, leading to the erection of the Porta dei Canonici to the south and the Porta della Mandorla to the north, the latter being crowned by a relief of the Assumption of the Virgin (1414–21), a graceful work by Nanni di Banco.

The other two doors are no less elegant: the door of the bell tower to the south, in the second bay, has relief work by the school of Andrea Pisano, while the Porta della Balla to the north was named after an old gate in the city walls leading out to the Borgo di Balla (now Via dei Servi) where the Arte della Lana had its drying sheds.

The cathedral’s dignified east end consists of three large tribunes lit by Gothic two-light windows. Fourexedrae, or blind tribunes, adorn the base of the drum.

19th century intervention – consisting primarily of new choir lofts and the simplification of Bandinelli’s choir, from which the entire columned superstructure and the statues on the altar were removed – completed the decoration of the cathedral. But the most important operation of all was the construction of a new façade by Emilio De Fabris and his assistants between 1871 and 1884 in imitation of the decorative Florentine style of the 14th century that we find on the bell tower and the side doors of the cathedral.

Information
  • Admission free
  • Entry via the right-hand door in the west front (Cathedral façade).
  • Disabled access via the Porta dei Canonici (south side of the Cathedral)
  • Dress appropriately to a place of cult

History of the Dome

Consisting of two interconnected ogival shells, the cathedral’s octagonal dome was erected between 1418 and 1434 to a design which Filippo Brunelleschi entered in a competition in 1418 but which was only accepted, after much controversy, in 1420.

A masterpiece capable of withstanding lightning, earthquakes and the passage of time, it continues to enchant all those who observe it from afar. The dome has a diameter of 45.5 metres, the equivalent of the baptistry in its entirety.

The competition that the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore ran in 1418 was won by Brunelleschi, but work did not get under way until two years later and was not completed until 1434.

The cathedral of Florence was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV on 25 March 1436.

Brunelleschi’s astonishingly innovative approach involved vaulting the dome space without any scaffolding by using a double shell with a space in between. The inner shell (with a thickness of more than two metres) is made of light bricks set in a herringbone pattern and is the self-supporting structural element while the outer dome simply serves as a heavier, wind-resistant covering. The dome is crowned by a lantern with a conical roof, designed by Brunelleschi but only built after his death in 1446, while the gilt copper sphere and cross on top of the lantern, containing holy relics, was designed by Andrea del Verrocchio and installed in 1466.

The inner shell of the dome was frescoed by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari from 1572 to 1579, the subject matter chosen, namely the Last Judgement, reflecting the iconography adopted in the baptistry. The frescoes on the inner shell of the dome were the object of a thorough restoration between 1978 and 1994.

We bring you our top 10 Florence hotels near Piazza del Duomo. Great choices for every pocket. We have taken in consideration the distance, price and guest reviews.

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Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy

Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy

  • The hotel is halfway between the Uffizi Gallery and Florence Cathedral. The rooms boast an elegant contemporary style, which combines Italian design with artworks inspired by local fashion houses.
  • Many rooms offer views of the square, of Brunelleschi’s dome, or of Giotto’s Bell Tower. You will find very attentive staff and the location in the heart of Florence in just amazing.
  • 5 stars
  • 0.3 km from Piazza del Duomo
  • Ratings and reviews: Superb 9.0, Location 9.8, 373 reviews
  • Compare prices or go directly to Booking.com

 

The St. Regis Florence

The St. Regis Florence

  • This beauty is along the Arno River with stunning views of the Ponte Vecchio, The hotel is in a historic building designed by Brunelleschi.
  • It has a Michelin-starred restaurant,l features a spa and gym, and luxury rooms with antique furnishings. this hotel provided the best service of any place. You will have a memorable experience here!
  • 5 stars
  • 0.9 km from Piazza del Duomo
  • Ratings and reviews:Superb 9.4, Location 9.6, 250 reviews
  • Compare prices or go directly to Booking.com

Hotel De La Ville

Hotel De La Ville

  • Luxury and classic-style Hotel!Enjoys a top location in Florence. It is on the pedestrian, high-fashion street of Via Tornabuoni, a 3-minute walk from Florence Cathedral and 3 minutes’ drive from Santa Maria Novella Train Station.
  • One of the most booked hotels in Florence. Its morning while we are writting this reviews and has been booked already 31 times. Breakfast is a rich American-style buffet with fresh fruit, cold meats, bacon and eggs. Freshly baked Italian cakes and pastries are also provided.
  • Its a charming hotel combining traditional values & modern facilities in the perfect location.
  • 4 stars
  • 0.4 km from Piazza del Duomo
  • Ratings and reviews: Superb 9.0, Location 9.7, 2,204 reviews
  • Compare prices or go directly to Booking.com

Hotel Spadai

Hotel Spadai

  • 2 minutes’ walk from Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, Hotel Spadai is housed in a historic building next to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi.
  • Set in the heart of Florence, 2 minutes’ walk from Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, Hotel is housed in a historic building next to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi.
  • Each room features soundproofing, a smart TV and free drinks from the minibar. The private bathroom comes with a rainfall shower, free toiletries and a hairdryer.
  • When booked for your stay, you will enjoy an extensive American buffet breakfast. This is an elegant hotel, with an excellent breakfast. Staff is friendly and personable! Il Duomo is literally next door. Crowded outside, quiet inside!
  • 4 stars
  • 0.1 km from Piazza del Duomo
  • Ratings and reviews: Exceptional 9.6, Location 9.9, 1,614 reviews
  • Compare prices or go directly to Booking.com

Hotel Pendini

Hotel Pendini

  • This family-run hotel dates back to 1879 and features antique furnishings and frescoes. A continental breakfast buffet is served everyday.  You will enjoy the breakfast in the elegant dining room. The hotel has been renovated nicely.
  • The Pendini is well located for Florence’s historic sights, including the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio, just a 2-minute walk away.
  • 3 stars
  • 0.4 km from Piazza del Duomo
  • Ratings and reviews: Superb 9.0, Location 9.8, 2,054 reviews
  • Compare prices or go directly to Booking.com

Hotel della Signoria

Hotel della Signoria

  • Breakfast is a buffet of sweet and savoury products, and can be served on the panoramic-view terrace located on the 7th floor. Rooms are spacious. And bathrooms are modern
  • Ponte Vecchio bridge is few steps away. The hotel is 100 m from a bus stop with links to Piazza San Marco and Santa Maria Novella Train Station. Florence Cathedral and Pitti Palace are a 5-minute walk away.
  • 3 stars
  • 0.5 km from Piazza del Duomo
  • Ratings and reviews: Superb 9.1, Location 9.8, 1,532 reviews
  • Compare prices or go directly to Booking.com

Hotel Collodi Firenze

Hotel Collodi Firenze

  • The Hotel Collodi is in San Lorenzo, the oldest neighbourhood in Florence. Its next to the Accademia Gallery and Palazzo Medici Riccardi. The hotel is named named from the author of Pinocchio.
  • Beautiful cosy room and strong Wifi. The bedrooms are decorated in a typical Florentine style and feature wrought iron beds. Continental breakfast is included in the room rate.
  • 2 stars
  • 0.4 km from Piazza del Duomo
  • Ratings and reviews: Fabulous 8.8, Location 9.4, 944 reviews
  • Compare prices or go directly to Booking.com

Hotel Jolì

Hotel Jolì

  • Hotel is set in a early 19th-century building in Florence’s centre. A buffet breakfast with hot and cold food is served daily in the breakfast hall. Each room at Jolì Hotel is decorated with light colours and either wooden or wrought-iron furniture.
  • Great value for the money. You get fresh and amazing breakfast
  • 2 stars
  • 0.6 km from Piazza del Duomo
  • Ratings and reviews: Fabulous 8.8, Location 9.4, 1,456 reviews
  • Compare prices or go directly to Booking.com

Albergo Bencidormi

Albergo Bencidormi

  • It is hardly a 2-3 min walk from the SMN train station which is the main station in Florence. Offers free Wi-Fi and rooms with self-adjusting air conditioning. Free luggage storage facilities are available.  Set on the 1st floor of a building with no lift.  The private bathroom is equipped with a hairdryer and shower.
  • You can use the shared fully equipped kitchen at no additional costs. There is a private parking area nearby where charges are applicable. The owners and the caretaker of the house are very wamr and kind.
  • 1 stars
  • 0.6 km from Piazza del Duomo
  • Ratings and reviews: Fabulous 8.8, Location 9.4, 636 reviews
  • Compare prices or go directly to Booking.com

Hotel Sole

Hotel Sole

  • Offers simply furnished rooms with air conditioning, LCD satellite TV and private bathroom. It is centrally located in Florence, a 5-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella Station and the Cathedral.
  • The rooms come with cool tiled floors and wooden furniture, and magnetic keys provided at check-in grant access 24 hours a day.
  • Central location. Nice and clean hotel.
  • 1 star
  • 0.5 km from Piazza del Duomo
  • Ratings and reviews: Very good 8.5, Location 9.4, 796 reviews
  • Compare prices or go directly to Booking.com

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