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The Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore and is located in Piazza del Duomo due north of Piazza della Signoria. It was begun in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio (1245-1302) one of the most celebrated architects and sculptors of his age, who designed it in Gothic style, with a main nave and two side aisles, and an apse in the back. After his death, the works were stopped for a long period. In 1334, Giotto acceded to conduct the works of the Cathedral. He designed the Bell Tower and completed a part of it, as he died in 1337. Works kept on conducted by Andrea Pisano (1290-1349) and Francesco Talenti (1310?-1369). It was ended in1359. The Bell Tower rises 85 m circa. Its top can be reached climbing up 414 steps, allowing visitors to admire amazing panoramic views over the capital city.

 In 1366, some Florentines artists thought that Gothic style was declining so the new works should be carry on Roman design. The part in Gothic style was entirely covered with Italian marbles: red (from Sienna), white (from Carrara) and green (from Prato). Later, two great Florentine architects were designated to complete the Cathedral: Lorenzo Ghiberti (1368-1455) and Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446). Brunelleschi was also a goldsmith and a sculptor. He began sculpturing statues for the Duomo. A short time after, he was already building some of its elements. In 1415 circa he set up an ultramodern project for the construction of the largest Cathedral of that epoch without scaffolding. The Florentines authorities accepted it and he was commissioned to conduct the works. In 1421 the polygonal base was erected but the Cupola was still uncompleted. It was brought to an end in 1436. At the time, it was the hugest cupola ever built with a diameter of 45 m and 100 m high. The giant red Cupola, overlooking the entire capital city, is the most emblematic characteristic of Florence.  

The façade of the Duomo was destroyed at the end of the16th century. In 1867 Emilio de Fabris (1808-1883) accomplished a new one evoking the Gothic style of Giotto’s Bell Tower   wholly covered with coloured marbles.


 The indoors of the Duomo hosts many art works and several masterpieces, like: the mosaic over the principal entrance by Gaddo Gaddi (14th century); the fine stained glass windows designed between 1434 and 1445 by Andrea del Castagno, Paolo Uccello and Donatello; another stained glass window by Lorenzo Ghiberti.; the “Last Judgment” by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari (completed in the16th century) which ornaments the interior of the enormous Cupola. Two imposing frescoes are nearby the principal entrance on the right-hand: the equestrian portraits of the condottieri Sir John Hawkwood and Niccoló da Tolentino by Paolo Uccello (1436) and Andrea del Castagno (1456); the liturgical enormous Clock painted by Paolo Uccello (1443); the monument to Dante Alighieri and the “Divina Commedia” by Domenico di Michelino (1465); the busts representing Giotto, Brunelleschi, Marsilio Ficino and Antonio Squarcialupi (the former organist of the Duomo) all of them from the 15th and 16th century; the “Altar of S. Zanobius and of the Blessed Sacrament” with the urn which keeps the relics of S. Zanobius by Lorenzo Ghiberti; the “Last Supper “ by Giovanni Balducci (16th century) and by Luca Della Robbia: the superb Bronze doors and the relieves “The Ascension of Christ” and “The Resurrection of Christ”.

For information about: Museo dell'Opera del Duomo click here

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