The Florence Cathedral (the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) is the result of Filippo Brunelleschi‘s highest expression of architectural vision.
Its dome is characteristic of a bold architectural design, and its achievement required great effort.
Giorgio Vasari has provided many details regarding the construction of the cathedral. Its construction, which took 140 years, involved some of the greatest artists in history.
The task of overseeing the work was first appointed to Arnolfo di Cambio on September 8, 1296, and was subsequently transferred to Giotto, Andrea Pisano, Francesco Talenti, and finally, Brunelleschi.
On March 25, 1436, the church was finally consecrated. However, the façade was not completed until 1875, and part of the dome’s gallery remains incomplete.
Dante Alighieri wrote that he used to sit on a rock to think, probably about his beloved Beatrice, close to the present location of the Piazza del Duomo. Moreover, there is a place in Florence that citizens call the “stone of Dante” and that marks the location from which the poet watched the beginnings of the construction of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The stone is located between the Piazza delle Pallottole and the Via dello Studio.
The cathedral contains works of art of immense value, including the famous portrait of Dante by Michelino, and conveys a sense of strict piety, typical of the style of Florentine churches.
Since 1400, the Florentines have prohibited burials within the church, something they used to perform for illustrious citizens, to allow space for contemplation and prayer.
The structure of the Florence Cathedral reflects the character and the aesthetic taste of the citizens of Florence, who admired simple architectural forms.
The Piazza del Duomo is located in the center of Florence. While its inhabitants are passionate about the Santa Maria del Fiore, they hold the “Cupolone” (Big dome) in the hightest esteem.
It is said that on January 7, 1600, the city was hit by a violent storm. Lightning struck the golden ball of copper built by Verrocchio and placed in 1472 on the top of Brunelleschi’s dome.
Consequentlly, the ball came tumbling down the side of the dome unto the square below. Fortunately, the ball remained intact and was put back into place two years later. To this day, a round marble slab lies in the exact spot where the ball fell.
The Florentines are proud to share that when Michelangelo was on the verge of departing for Rome to work on the dome of St. Peter, he said the following, gazing at Brunelleschi’s dome:
I go to Rome to build your sister, larger than you, but not more beautiful than you. 😉
This guide can be very useful to learn more about that:
A Short History of Florence, Italy for Travelers and History Buffs
by Damien Peters
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