Coat of arms of an Italian family with Ghibelline-style heraldic chief at top

Guelphs and Ghibellines

In his 2013 novel Inferno, Dan Brown mentions the struggle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. As it was so important for both Medieval Florence and the life of poet Dante Alighieri, we want to briefly explain what this opposition was about. Simply put, the Guelphs and Ghibellines were rival parties in medieval Germany and…

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Panels of Gates of Paradise by Justin Norris

Gates of Paradise

The Gates of Paradise is the main gate of the Baptistry of Florence (Battistero di San Giovanni), located in front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

The Porta del Paradiso, in Italian, was created by Florentine goldsmith and sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti between 1425 and 1452 and installed in the eastern portal of the Baptistery.
The Gates have been praised by generations of artists and art historians for their compelling portrayal of scenes from the Old Testament.
Over time, the seventeen-foot-tall, three-ton bronze doors became an icon of Renaissance, one of the most famous works of art in the world.

The workmanship of panels demonstrates that the Florentine artists had mastered linear perspective and the classical idiom by the early 15th century.

According to The Lives of the Artist by Giorgio Vasari, the door—once known just as the East Door—was named the Gates of Paradise by Michelangelo Buonarroti because of its striking beauty.

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