the dome Cathedral, Campanile and Baptistery

SANTA MARIA del FIORE, the Duomo ....The city center was dominated by the Duomo, the cathedral of Florence. Built in the Middle Ages, the architects left a 140 foot hole atop waiting for a dome. At the time, they didn't have the technology to built one, but they knew someone would some day come along to meet the challenge.

That man was Brunelloeschi in the 1400's. The main color you see upon first glance is white. I almost looks like ivory, but upon closer inspection, it's white, pink and green Tuscan marble. It is truly ornate work, but that work on the fašade does divide people. Some like it and others ridicule it. The funniest description I read was that it looked like a cathedral in pajamas.


The whole complex included a baptistery which was one of Florence's oldest buildings, dating back to the 4th century. Lorenzo Ghiberti's golden doors facing east were built in 1401 to commemorate Florence's deliverance from the Plague. The design for the panels was so different from the Gothic art of the time that they are often referred to as the beginning of the Renaissance. Michelangelo said that they were fit to be the gates of Paradise. Well, they should be amazing. Ghiberti spent 27 years working on the panels.

Next to the main entrance was the Campanile, a square bell tower with more white, pink and green Tuscan marble. It was 85 meters tall (which meant fifty less steps than the dome) and gave the best view possible of Brunelleschi's Dome. It was designed by Giotto two hundred years before Michelangelo. And although in his day he was called the ugliest man to ever walk the streets of Florence, he certainly knew how to design a thing of beauty.


Baptistery Door
Of course, the dome of the cathedral was the largest dome of its kind when it was built and it was the first Renaissance dome. Would Florence do anything less? A climb to the top was 15 Euros and 463 stairs. The dome was the inspiration and model for many more domes to come, including St. Peter's Basilica and the US Capitol Building. When Michelangelo designed St. Peter's in Rome, he said. "I'll make its sister . . . bigger but not more beautiful."
Copyright 2010 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.