The Florence Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

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

Website of the Sanctuary

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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 meters long, 90 meters wide at the crossing, and 90 meters 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

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The Florence Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

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.

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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 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.

The Florence Duomo Mass Schedule

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.

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)

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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.

OUR LADY shirts for you!

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.

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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.

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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.

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