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Explore the Magnificent Duomo of Florence

Explore the Magnificent Duomo of Florence

Let’s go more in-depth about the history and architecture of the magnificent Dome of Florence!

Mainly known as the Duomo of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral has throughout the centuries become the main symbol of the city of Florence and is, to this day, one of the largest Cathedrals in the world built in Gothic style. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 when it was defined as a unique masterpiece. Its construction began in 1296 and only ended in 1436 when the infamous Cupola Brunelleschi was finished. 


Let’s go more in-depth about the history and architecture of the magnificent Dome of Florence!



Dedicated to Saint Reparata, a Catholic Virgin and martyr, along with the Basilica di San Lorenzo di Firenze, the Dome of Florence’s construction began on the 9th of September 1296 according to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio, architect of the church of Santa Croce and Palazzo Vecchio.

He had designed three naves under an octagonal dome but the project ended up being expanded in size throughout the centuries.


After Arnolfo di Cambio died in 1302, the works on this church were slowed down and the project ended up being continued by very important artists like Giotto, assisted by Andrea Pisano up until Giotto died in 1337. The construction was carried on by many different architects like Francesco Talenti, Giovanni di Lapo Ghini, Alberto Arnoldi, Giovanni d’Ambrogio and many more. In 1380, the nave of this Cathedral was finally finished but no one could figure out a way to complete the Cupola.



As mentioned before, by 1418, the nave was completed but no one could manage to understand how to build the Cupola. Because of this, Arte della Lana chose to announce a competition to design this dome that saw two main competitors: Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi. As most of you may know, this competition was won by Filippo Brunelleschi, hence the name “Cupola Brunelleschi”. 

The design of this dome was built without a supporting wooden structure for the first time in history, something that is, to this day, surprising and studied by architects all over the world. 


One architect, named Massimo Ricci, even tried to partially rebuild the Cupola to try and understand the architectural strategy behind it. This partial reconstruction is located in Parco dell’Anconella.

Something that is even more surprising about this Cupola though, is that it was actually the first building designed by Brunelleschi that was actually built. He had designed sculptures and statues before but never a building and definitely not such a complex one!



The first façade for the Dome of Florence was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and continued by Giotto but it was torn down by Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici in the XVI century because he wanted to create a more modern gothic façade. Since then, competitions to design the new facade of this Church were hosted but it wasn’t until 1864 that Emilio De Fabris’ design was chosen. Construction work for this new façade began in 1876 and it was only completed in 1887, achieving a neo-gothic white, green and red marble façade that is dedicated to the Mother of Christ. 



If you’re curious about visiting the Dome of Florence and understanding more about its historical impact and architectural style, surely is an amazing experience that is worth doing. If you want to fully lose yourself in the beauty of this Gothic Church, make sure to book a tour with us for the best experience possible!

25th May 2023