Friday, 15 August 2014

**The Duomo**
Possibly even more beautiful when seen floodlit at night, this
is one of Florence's most distinctive and iconic buildings.
It rises above the city, omnipotent and symbolic of Florence's
commercial, political and artistic power.

The cathedral took approximately one hundred and forty years to build.
Construction initially started on September 8, 1296, and the
cathedral was not consecrated until March 25, 1436.

The cathedral's cupola, which was built by Filippo Brunelleschi
(1377-1446) and finished in 1463, is one of the world's largest
brick-built domes; incredibly it was constructed
without the use of scaffolding.

The campanile is some 6 mtrs shorter than the dome, though equally
impressive, while the octagonal baptistry is thought to date back
to the fourth century in part, and is home to
Lorenzo Ghiberti's (1378-1455) magnificent bronze doors.

Il Duomo Florence is not the official name of the cathedral, even though
the dome is what the building is most commonly referred to.
The official name of the structure is Santa Maria del Fiore, which translates into
Our Lady of the Flower.

One of the reasons that Il Duomo is considered one of the top things to do in Florence Italy is the size. This cathedral is considered the third largest church in the entire world based on nave size. The nave is just slightly less than one hundred and fifty meters in size, and is smaller only than the ones in St. Paul’s and St. Peter’s cathedrals.

The interior of Il Duomo Florence has a unique clock prominently displayed on the back wall. This clock was designed by Paolo Uccello, and is a twenty four hour model. Paintings on the clock face represent four saints, all of whom were men. This is an operational clock which accurately tells time, and the hands run backwards instead of in a clockwise direction.
The dome itself is amazing. At nearly 142 feet, the dome is larger than the domes of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., St. Pauls in London,
the Pantheon in Rome, and even St. Peters in Vatican City.
The dome remained the largest dome in the world until modern materials permitted the construction of stadium-sized domes such as the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

**Duomo facade**
The great cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (known as the Duomo)

is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The initial plans were designed in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio (1240-1300/10), although the architect died before the building was complete.

The project was taken over by Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337) in 1334
who designed the campanile with its distinctive bands of marble
in pink, green and white, a staple of Italian cathedrals.

The building itself occupies approximately three city blocks and can be
seen from nearly everyone inside Florence, and even as far
away as some of the neighboring cities.

Following Ghiotto's death a series of architects worked on the building
and by 1418 it was almost complete with the exception of the cupola.
The facade of the cathedral as it appears today was not desighned
until 1871, and was completed in 1887 to reflect the patterned
marble exterior of the campanile and the baptistry.
The inside of the Duomo contains intricately decorated marble floors, but the rest of the inside is fairly simple for an Italian church, this is perhaps because the fresco adorning the dome is one of the best in Italy.
The fresco, designed by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zucchari is called "The Last Judgement."
One side of the dome is painted with images of heaven and the other with images of hell culminated in a very nasty looking devil.

Today, tourists can climb to the top of the dome, and follow in the steps of its builders and architect.
After climbing up to the dome itself, visitors can walk the interior of the cupola and get a very close look at the "Last Judgement" fresco, after that it is a clumb through the shell of the dome where one can still see the techniques that Bruneslleshi invented to create the dome.
The view from the top is amazing.

If Brunelleschi were to visit his dome today, he'd see that not much has changed in the half millennia his creation has stood. The dome has survived through hurricane-strength winds, and several earthquakes. In the early 1900s several of the oak supports inside had to be replaced.


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