A Dome of Surprises

Perplexity, ingeniosity, and beauty

By Google Arts & Culture

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore 1 (2021-05-10/2021-05-10) by Belinda Fewings

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the product of a long and troubled building process that spanned six centuries. Along with Giotto's Bell Tower, both are monuments that do not cease to amaze all and sundry.

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Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

The dome of the cathedral is the quintessential element of Florence’s skyline and has been dominating it since 1436, 140 years after the construction of the church began.

This long delay, apparently caused by the difficulty of raising a dome this massive without any wooden centering and the misplacement of the recipe for concrete, was ended by Pilippo Brunelleschi an Italian architect and engineer who projected a double-shelled structure.

Brunelleschi also invented some sophisticated machines specifically for this daunting task.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore 11, Xioyang Ou, 2021-03-29/2021-03-29
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore 5, Cinzia Scurti, 2020-05-11/2020-05-11
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore 3, Belinda Fewings, 2021-02-19/2021-02-19
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Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore 8 (2018-11-04/2018-11-04) by Ali Nuredini

Two domes after and a myriad of ideas.

The Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is the second largest cathedral in Italy.

The façade of the cathedral was done in the 19th century.

Did you know that in A Room with a View (1985) starring Judi Dench, Helena Bonham Carter and Daniel Day-Lewis, several scenes where shot in Florence where the Duomo can be seen?

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore 13 by Ifs

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Giotto's Bell Tower

Giotto's Bell Tower

The imposing 85-meter campanile clad in red, white and green marble was designed by Giotto di Bondone in a pure Gothic style.

However, he died before the project was completed, adding a problem to the long litany of difficulties that the construction of the cathedral had already faced.

Fortunately, talented artists took over and were able to complete it in 1359, but not before suffering another setback: a two-year hiatus caused by the Black Death.

Giottos Bell Tower 1, Nicholas Beel, 2020-06-28/2020-06-28
Giottos Bell Tower 4, Mauro Grazzi, 2021-05-05/2021-05-05
Giottos Bell Tower 3, Duncan Shaffer, 2015-01-23/2015-01-23
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Giottos Bell Tower 2 (2020-08-19/2020-08-19) by Héloïs Delbos

Marvelous and miraculous

It took 25 years to complete Giotto’s Bell Tower, from 1334 to 1359.

Most of the original art pieces created for the Giotto's Bell Tower are displayed in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.

A true architectural wonder.

Giottos Bell Tower 5 by Ifs

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore 9 (2018-09-10/2018-09-10) by Nick Fewings

Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and where it reached its peak, a city shaped by dexterous and inventive artists with exquisite taste and outstanding aesthetic sensibility that left an invaluable heritage for the world to admire.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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