The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower) or the Florence “Duomo” (cathedral) as it is commonly referred to is a Gothic style cathedral that commenced construction in 1296 and was structurally completed in 1436. The dome is the largest masonry dome ever constructed in the world.
The Duomo is part of the Cathedral Complex of Piazza del Duomo, which is in itself part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site covering the entire historic centre of Florence.
The façade of the Duomo, has an interesting history. It was only completed in its lower portion and was dismantled in 1587-88 as the Gothic exterior was considered old fashioned during this Renaissance era. In 1864, a competition was held to design a new façade, which was built between 1876-67. It is a neo-gothic façade in white, green and red marble, which matches the other structures that form the Cathedral Complex.
The amount of sculptures, artworks, carvings and intricate details on the Duomo is staggering. It takes a lot of time to admire just a fraction of what there is to see.
The tall campanile (bell tower) to the right of the Duomo is Giotto’s Campanile. It was constructed between 1334-59. It was designed by painter, and Master of the Works of the Cathedral, Giotto di Bondone, who is considered one of the founding fathers of the Italian Renaissance movement.
The Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistry of St John) forms part of the Cathedral Complex and is one of the oldest buildings in Florence, built between 1059-1128. It is of the Florentine Romanesque style. This was not the first baptistry on the site, with evidence of a smaller octagonal baptistry dating back to the late 4th century being found.
Of note are its 3 very impressive bronze doors with relief sculptures. Michelangelo referred to the east doors as the “Gates of Paradise”.
The scaffolding is part of a cleaning project that is being undertaken. It’s quite amazing to see the difference between the clean parts of the façade and the unclean parts.