Florence Duomo or Santa Maria del Fiori Cathedral
The dome of the Santa Maria del Fiori cathedral dominates Florence's skyline, and is perhaps the sight most commonly associated with the city. The cathedral itself is centrally located on the Piazza del Duomo, and is directly across from the Battistero; the Campanile tower serves as the bell tower for the Duomo. It was built at the end of the 13th century on the ruins of the 7th century Santa Reparata, and the ruins of the former church can still be seen in the crypt. The photo to the right shows the entrance to the Duomo, just across the piazza from the east gates of the Battistero. Like the adjacent Campanile, the Duomo is also decorated in pink, white and green marble. Given its size and the proximity of other buildings, it is difficult to get a sense of the size of the Duomo from photographs. The people in the photograph to the left gives one some idea of the height and width of the cathedral, while the photo to the right affords some view as to both the depth of the structure as well as its size, relative to the tour group pictured. The photo at the bottom left is shot from the opposite side of the Dumo; it shows the elaborate construction of the apse area, with the dome supported by buttresses and a series of smaller domes. Of course, the main attraction is the dome itself, built by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1418. Brunelleschi, the winner of a design contest for the project, modeled the dome on the Pantheon in Rome. The ingenious herringbone brickwork required no scaffolding, and the egg-shaped dome is supported by eight white ribs. Visitors can climb its narrow 463 steps to get an unparalleled view of Florence. To the right is a view to the west from the Duomo; visible in the enlarged picture is the church of San Lorenzo, the Medici Chapel, as well as Santa Maria Novella. An exhausting climb, but well worth it!
The interior of the Duomo is in stark contrast to its colorful and ornate interior. (this is partly a function of practicality, as many of the treasures of the Duomo are now housed next door in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo) Two rows of column support a vaulted ceiling, and the floor space is empty and open from the entrance to the dome area where the altar is located. The photo to the left shows the church looking from the altar toward the entrance, while the photo to the right shows the altar area, centered beneath Brunelleschi's dome. Midway through the ascent to the dome it is possible to get a glance at the Vesari frescoes that decorates the dome's interior with its scenes from the last judgment. The frescoes are pictured in the photo below lefit, while a view from the dome is captured in the photo to the right. Also in the Duomo complex is the Museo del Opera del Duomo, a museum containing over 750 works of art, including the original Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, and a Pieta that Michelangelo designed for his own tomb.