The Cathedral of Florence or Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is among the largest masonry structures ever built in the world. Designed originally by Arnolfo di Cambio, the base of the monument is large enough to cover half a football field. The red dome that gives the Cathedral its more common name, The Duomo, was designed by early Renaissance architect Fillipo Brunelleschi. It was also the world’s largest dome when construction for this Pantheon inspired component of the Cathedral finished in the year 1436. This Cathedral was built on the site where Saint Reparata once stood, signifying the growing importance of Florence and its emergence as a centre of art, culture, and prosperity.
The Florence Cathedral that we see today is a culmination of artistic imaginations of many great artists and architects. Arnolfo di Cambio submitted the design for the Cathedral in the year 1296, and its construction began under the supervision of Francesco Talenti. The Church was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV in 1436 after the completion of the Dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The fresco on the inside of the dome depicts the last Judgement and was painted in colourful strokes by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari between 1572 and 1579.
The beautiful designs in white, pink, and green marble that form the façade of the Cathedral was added between 1871 and 1887. It complements the bell tower which was designed by Giotto di Bondone in 1334 but it was completed first by Andrea Pisano, who also designed the relief decorations on the tower. Later, Francesco Talenti oversaw its construction and was finally completed in 1359.
The Octagonal Florence Baptistery AKA the Baptistery of Saint John, is one of the oldest buildings in the city, constructed between 1059 and 1128 in the Florentine Romanesque style. The Baptistry is renowned for the 3 large bronze doors decored with relief sculptures. The Italian poet Dante and many other notable Renaissance figures were baptized in this baptistry.
The quiet climb that leads to the top of the Giotto's Campanile is a unique way of witnessing the Cathedral’s beauty from different heights and angles. From atop, you can enjoy a bird’s eye view of Florence and see the Florence Cathedral architecture from up close. This is a great spot for capturing some memorable photos of the panoramic views, the dome and the façade of the Church.
Originally built to be a grain market, Orsanmichele became a Church for crafters and traders’ guild near the end of 14th Century. The ducts in the ceiling that were used to pour grain inside are still there for the visitors to see. The building is also accentuated with stained glass windows and a white alter that are worth seeing. The Church is free to visit and is located between the Duomo and Piazza Della Signoria.
When you walk towards Piazza Della Signoria from Orsanmichele, you will pass through a market full of souvenirs and memorabilia. On one side of this market, there is a bronze boar which is called ‘Porcellino’ or the piglet by the Italians. According to the tradition, visitors put a coin in the boar’s mouth and if it spills out, they will have good luck, and if they rub its snout, they will return to Florence.
While you are in Florence, consider visiting the Uffizi Florence which is known to be the most famous museum in Florence. The beautiful building is home to an exclusive collection of art works by famous Italian artists like Giotto and Michelangelo. The museum also houses a good collection of Botticelli’s work, including his 1486 work, The Birth of Venus.