Florence‘s cathedral is more than the symbol of the city. Together with the Campanile (The Bell Tower) and the Baptistery it forms one of the most magnificent works of art in the world. Florentines could not live without a glimpse of the dome of their cathedral. It would seem that when Michelangelo created the dome of St Peter’s he was seeking to transplant Brunelleschi’s masterpiece from his native city of Florence to Rome.
At the end of the 13th century the citizens of Florence, conscious of the growing importance of their city, wanted to erect a great new edifice on the site of the church of Santa Reparata that would surpass the other churches in the city in its beauty and its dimensions.
Famous architects, first Arnolfo di Cambio (from 1294), then Giotto, Andrea Pisano, Francesco Talenti and Giovanni Ghini made such progress with the building work despite numerous interruptions that between 1420 and 1434 Filippo Brunelleschi was able to crown it with the dome – that sensational feat of architectural bravura. In 1436 the cathedral was dedicated to St Mary the Virgin and acquired the epithet "del Fiore" from the lily on Florence‘s coat of arms.
The present ornate facade, designed by Emilo de Fabris’, was not added until 1875-1887. (The old facade, which had never been completed, was demolished in 1587.)
The cathedral has some impressive dimensions. It is 160.45m/526.28ft long; the nave is 43m/141ft wide; the transept 91m/298ft wide; the facade is 50m/164ft high; the dome is 114.36m/375.1ft high and 45.52/149.31ft in diameter. The church’s 8,300 sq.m/89,308 sqft of floor space can accommodate 25,000 people. Santa Maria del Fiore is Italy‘s third largest church after St Peter’s in Rome and Milan Cathedral.
All in all it is a formidable building.
The pictures were taken during my visit in May 2006. Click on Thumbnails for larger pictures