Piazza del Duomo & Around
Piazza del Duomo & Around information
Pictures don't do justice to the exterior of Florence's Gothic Duomo . While they reproduce the startling colours of the tiered red, green and white marble facade and the beautiful symmetry of the dome, they fail to give any sense of its monumental size. Officially known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, its construction begun in 1294 by Sienese architect Arnolfo di Cambio, but it wasn't consecrated until 1436. Its most famous feature, the enormous octagonal Cupola (dome) was built by Brunelleschi after his design won a public competition in 1420. The interior is decorated with frescos by Vasari and Zuccari, and the stained-glass windows are by Donatello, Paolo Uccello and Lorenzo Ghiberti. The facade is a 19th-century replacement of the unfinished original, pulled down in the 16th century.
Beside the cathedral, the 82m Campanile was begun by Giotto in 1334 and completed after his death by Andrea Pisano and Francesco Talenti. The views from the top make the 414-step climb worthwhile.
To the west, the Romanesque Battistero is one of the oldest buildings in Florence. Built on the site of a Roman temple between the 5th and 11th centuries, it's famous for its gilded-bronze doors, particularly Lorenzo Ghiberti's Gate of Paradise .
Surprisingly overlooked by the crowds, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo on the northern (street) side of the cathedral safeguards treasures that once adorned the Duomo, baptistry and campanile and is one of the city's most impressive museums. Ghiberti's Gate of Paradise panels (those on the Baptistry doors are copies) and a Pietà by Michelangelo are in the collection here.