Church of Santa Maria del Fiore + Its 4 Exteriors

Learn about the historical and cultural significance of this iconic church that has been a focal point of Florence for centuries.

One of the biggest churches in the world is the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore. Florence Cathedral, formerly Basilica of St. Mary of the Flowers the Cathedral of Santa Maria del her fiore is a cathedral in Florence, Italy. Construction began in 1296 in Gothic style by design by Arnolfo di Cambio and with the dome by Filippo Brunelleschi, which he completed in 1436. The exterior of the cathedral is clad in polychrome marble slabs in various shades of green and pink fringed with white and features a façade in the ornate 19th-century Gothic His Revival style by Emilio de Fabrice.

The cathedral complex in Piazza Duomo includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. These three buildings of hers are a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the historic center of Florence and a major tourist attraction in Tuscany. This cathedral is one of the largest churches in Italy and had the largest dome in the world until modern building materials were developed. It continues to be the biggest brick dome ever constructed.

Archbishop Giuseppe Vetri is in charge of the cathedral, which serves as the mother church of the Florence Archdiocese.

Church of Santa Maria del Fiore
Church of Santa Maria del Fiore

About the History of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

On the site of Florence’s second cathedral, Saint Reparata, Santa Maria del Fiore was constructed. The first is the Cathedral of San Lorenzo di Florence, the first building of which was consecrated as a church by Saint Ambrose of Milan in 393 AD.

According to Giovanni Villani’s 14th-century Chronicle of the New Book, this ancient structure was built in the early 5th century and underwent several restorations, resulting in deterioration over time and enough space to support the city’s growing population. It is said that the size is gone.

Other major Tuscan cities, such as Pisa and especially Siena, embarked on ambitious reconstructions of their cathedrals in the late Middle Ages, but never completed their major expansion plans.

  • The city council approved Arnolfo di Cambio’s plans for a new church in 1294. As well as the Church of Santa Croce and the Palazzo Vecchio. Di Cambio was the architect of these structures. He designed his three wide naves ending under an octagonal dome, with the central nave covering Santa his separate area. This cornerstone was laid on September 9, 1296, by Cardinal Valeriana, the first Papal legate sent to Florence.
  • This gigantic project took him 140 years to build. Arnolfo’s plan for the eastern end remained conceptual but was greatly expanded. The cathedral’s construction was halted for nearly 50 years after Arnolfo’s death in 1302. The project received a new impetus when in 1330 the relics of St. Zenobius were discovered in Santa He separately.
  • In 1331, the wool merchants’ guild, Arte della Lana, took over the patronage of the cathedral’s construction, and in 1334 entrusted Giotto with construction management. With the support of Andrea Pisano, Giotto continued the Di Cambio design. His greatest achievement was the construction of Campanile. After Giotto’s death on January 8, 1337, Andrea Pisano continued construction until a plague epidemic in 1348 halted work.

    Top-view of Church of Santa Maria del Fiore
    Top-view of Church of Santa Maria del Fiore
  • Completed Duomo (frescoes by Andrea di Bonayuto in the 1360s, before the dome began)
  • In 1349 work on the cathedral resumed under the direction of a series of architects, including Francesco Talenti, who completed the bell tower and added the apse and side chapels to the overall project. In 1359 Tarenti was succeeded by Giovanni di Rapo his Gini (1360-1369), dividing the central nave into his four-square compartments.
  • Other architects include Alberto Arnoldi, Giovanni D’Ambrosio, Neri di Fioravanti, Andrea Orcagna, and others. In 1375 the old church of Santa Reparata was demolished. The nave was completed in 1380, but only the dome remained unfinished until 1418.

Exterior cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore

1. Plan and structure

Florence Cathedral was built as a basilica, with four square compartments and a wide central nave flanked by aisles. The chancel and transept have the same polygonal plan, separated by two smaller polygonal chapels. The whole plan forms a Latin cross. The nave and side aisles are separated by broad Gothic pointed arches over compound columns.

The dimensions of the building are very large.

Construction area 8,300 square meters, length 153 meters, width 38 meters, intersection width 90 meters. The aisle arches are 23 meters high and the dome is 114.5 meters high, making it the fifth tallest dome in the world.

View of Church of Santa Maria del Fiore
View of Church of Santa Maria del Fiore

2. Planned sculpture for the exterior

The supervisors of the Arte della Lana, the building authority of Florence Cathedral, for the cathedral’s buttresses, it was intended to commission a group of twelve substantial Old Testament sculptures. Donatello, then in his early twenties, In 1408, received a commission to create sculpture a statue of David on one of his buttresses in Florence Cathedral, but the statue was never installed there.

In the same year, Nannidi his Banco was commissioned to sculpt a marble statue of Isaiah on the same scale. One of the statues was raised into place in 1409 but was found to be too small to be seen clearly from the ground and was removed. Both statues were then abandoned in the Opera’s workshops for several years.

3. Dome

In the early 15th century, after 100 years of construction, the building still had no dome. The outline of the dome was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296. His brick model, 4.6 meters high and 9.2 meters long, stood in the passage of an unfinished building and could not be touched for a long time. It required an octagonal dome that was taller and wider than any dome ever built and had no external buttresses to prevent it from expanding or collapsing under its weight.

Exterior cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore
Exterior cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore

4. Facade

The original façade was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and is generally attributed to Giotto, although it started 20 years after Giotto’s death. His mid-15th-century pen drawings depicting this so-called Giotto façade can be seen in the Rustici Codex and his 1587 drawing by Bernardino Pocchetti, both of which are exhibited in the Duomo’s Opera Museum. increase.

The façade is the collaborative work of several artists, including Andrea Orcagna and Taddeo Gaddi. This original façade was only completed on the lower part and was left unfinished. It was demolished from 1587 to 1588 by the Medici court architect Bernardo his Buontalenti on behalf of Francesco I de’ Medici Archduke because it looked completely outdated in the Renaissance.

Some of the original sculptures are on display at the Opera del Duomo Museum behind the cathedral. Other works are now in the Berlin Museum and the Louvre.

A race for the new façade turned into a massive corruption scandal. A wooden model of the façade by Buontalenti is on display at the Opera del Duomo Museum. Several new designs were proposed in later years, but the model was not accepted. The façade then remained free until the 19th century.

Main Portal of Cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore

The three massive bronze doors date from 1899-1903 and depict scenes from the life of Our Lady. The lunette mosaic above the door was designed by Niccolo Barabino. They represent the philanthropic activities among the founders of the Florentine charity. Christ enthroned with Mary and John the Baptist. And Florentine craftsmen, merchants, and humanists.

Main Portal of Cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore
Main Portal of Cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore

In the pediment above the central portal is a semi-relief by Tito Salocchi depicting the enthroned Mary holding a flowered scepter. Giuseppe Cassioli designed a suitable door.

At the top of the façade, he has a series of niches with the twelve apostles and in the center is the Madonna and Child. Between the rose window and the eardrum is a gallery displaying busts of the great Florentine artists.

Interior of Cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore

The Gothic interior is spacious and has a quiet impression. The relative sparsity of the Church is consistent with the rigor of religious life preached by Girolamo Savonarola.

Many of the church’s decorations have been lost over time or moved to the Museum of Opera del Duomo, including the magnificent Cantor’s pulpit by Luca della Robbia and Donatello.

As this cathedral was built with public funds, it contains some important works of art honoring Florentine celebrities and military leaders.

Lorenzo his Ghiberti had a great artistic influence on the cathedral. Ghiberti worked with Filippo Brunelleschi on the construction of the cathedral for 18 years and carried out numerous projects in large parts of Ostend. His work includes stained glass, the bronze temple of St. Zenobius, and the outer marble panels of the cathedral.

dome crack cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore
dome crack cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore

dome crack cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore

The unreinforced masonry used by Brunelleschi to construct the dome is stress-sensitive and when a masonry structure’s ultimate tensile strength is exceeded by a tensile stress, cracks result. This material is particularly susceptible to damage from seismic loads due to its inhomogeneity and the many surfaces between different materials.

Cracks in the dome were observed even before construction was completed. The first crack may have been caused by a strong earthquake in 1453.

Crypt of Cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore

Tomb of Filippo Brunelleschi.

Crypt of Cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore
Crypt of Cathedral of Santa Mara del Fiore

The cathedral underwent difficult excavations during the 1965-1974 period. The archaeological history of this vast area has been strengthened by the research of Dr. Franklin Toker rearranged as follows:

Ruins of Roman houses, early Christian pavements, ruins of the former Santa Reparata Cathedral, and successive extensions of this church. Near the entrance, in part of the crypt open to the public, is Brunelleschi’s tomb. Despite its prominent location, the actual tomb is plain and plain. The fact that this architect was allowed to build such a prestigious tomb is a testament to the high regard he received from the Florentines.

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