4 Sep 2011

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

The exterior of the duomo in the light of a winter sunrise.
The duomo, or main cathedral, in Florence, Italy was originally designed in a Gothic style in 1294 by Arnolfo di Cambio.  Over the next 170 years work began and stopped several times.  The first time the works slowed was after Arnolfo's death in 1302.  Giotto di Bondone began overseeing the construction in 1334.  When Giotto died in 1337, his assistant took over until 1348, when work was stopped due to the Black Death.  When work resumed, the cathedral saw many architects taking over until 1418, when the cathedral was finally finished, with the exception of the dome.

A view from Piazzale Michelangelo.
This beautiful building is a wonderful mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and Gothic Revival styles.  The first time I saw this building, I was stopped dead in my tracks by its magnificence.  Words could not begin to encapsulate its beauty and magic; it truly does need to be viewed in person.  The exterior of the duomo is decorated in pink, grey and white marble.

A view of the bell tower from the top of the dome.

I would definitely recommend climbing the stairs to the top of Brunellschi's dome.  There are 463 steps to the top.  I learned the hard way, that you really should take a bottle of water with you.  Not only will this provide you with the best vantage point of viewing the dome's interior frescoes of the Last Judgement, you will find the most stunning 360 degree views of Florence from the top of the dome.

The main building of the cathedral in 2011.

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