Florence Hotel Guelfa · Surroundings · Florence Dome
With its bell tower, the Duomo in Florence has become the symbol of the city, and is the result of a lengthy history stretching back six centuries. The design was conceived by Arnolfo di Cambio in the late 13th century. The cupola that made it unique, and a symbol of all of Tuscany, is attributed to Filippo Brunelleschi, while the façade dates to the late 1800s.
The construction was embellished in a number of operations through the centuries.
The cathedral was dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore in 1412, referring to the lily that is the symbol of Florence, and was constructed atop the cathedral of Santa Reparata, which was demolished in 1375: visitors can still admire the remains of the old cathedral today in the archaeological area beneath the Duomo.
In 1293, the Republic of Florence decided to replace Santa Reparata with a larger and more splendid cathedral, decreeing that all citizens must contribute to the expense: everyone was obligated to leave a portion of their wealth in their wills to the "construction" of the Duomo.
In 1294, the project was officially entrusted to Arnolfo di Cambio, who also began construction of the Palazzo Vecchio in 1298.
Arnolfo worked on the Duomo from 1296 to 1302, the year of his death, and although Gothic was the style in those years, Di Cambio designed a basilica of classical spaces, with three ample naves that lead onto the main altar.
The two sacristies, the 16th-century marble flooring, numerous sculptures, and many frescoes were created by Paolo Uccello and Andrea del Castagno.
Sadly, Arnolfo completed only two spans and the new façade, which itself was only half decorated: the sculptures (a few by Arnolfo himself) were dismantled and transferred to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo when the grand duke Francesco I de' Medici decided to build a new façade in 1586.
Work halted with Di Cambio's death, and did not resume until 1334 when Giotto was appointed the head of Duomo construction; unfortunately, he too died soon thereafter, in 1337, and he had dedicated himself largely to the construction of his Campanile.
Giotto's position was filled by Andrea Pisano (creator of the South door of the Baptistry) until 1348, the year of the terrible plague that ravaged the city's population from 90,000 to 45,000.
The Bigallo Museum houses a fresco from 1342 that documents the various phases of work.
Franceso Talenti was in charge from 1349 to 1359; he completed the Campanile and divided the central nave into four square spans, while the two lateral ones are rectangular.