There are 3 incredible reasons to visit the Piazza del Duomo in Florence. The Piazza del Duomo has been the religious centre of Florence for over 1600 years. It houses the magnificent structures of the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) and Giotto’s Bell Tower.
1. The Baptistery in the Piazza del Duomo
The Baptistery is the oldest building in the square and was constructed in mid 11th century. Between the 14th and 16th Century the Gates of Paradise were constructed by Lorenzo Ghiberti from a commission by the Baptistery, who wanted the panels depicting the stories of the Old Testament.
These doors are copies of the original doors that were commissioned. The panel shown above depicts the Old Testament story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
The ceiling made up of 13th century mosaics shows the giant figure of Christ. Other panels show mosaic decorations of stories that relate to St John the Baptist, Christ, the Patriarch Joseph and the beginnings of human life – Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel and Noah and his family.
2. The Cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo
The Cathedral was constructed during the last decades of the 13th century. Florence wanted its Duomo to be larger than the cathedrals of Pisa and Siena. The exterior was to be constructed in marble with carved figures and statues. The first stone was laid in 1296 and it took over 170 years to complete.
Unlike the mosaics of the Baptistery’s ceiling the Duomo ceiling shows painted frescoes depicting scenes from The Last Judgement.
There are 463 steps to the top of the Cupola. There is a entry fee for this, but no charge for entrance to the Cathedral.
The Cathedral is the fourth largest in the world. St Peters Cathedral in Rome is the largest, followed by St Paul’s in London and the Duomo in Milan.
3. Giotto’s Bell Tower in the Piazza del Duomo
The Bell Tower’s construction was started in 1334 by Giotto. During its construction Giotto passed away and the Tower was finished in 1359 by Francesco Talenti.
There are 414 steps to reach the top of the 84.7 metre tall Tower.
To Travel Too Tips
- You can purchase a ticket that covers all buildings in the Piazza del Duomo for 15 euros. Each building must be visited within 24 hours of the first entry. It is free to enter the Cathedral but there is a cost to climb to the top of the Cupola.
- Plan your climb to the Cupola first as tourists start queuing from 8am. During summer it is highly recommended to climb both the Cupola and the Tower first thing in the morning.
If you enjoyed this post you may like our other posts on our adventures in Italy.
Our recommendation for accommodation that is centrally located and offers amazing free walking tours is Hostel Archi Rossi
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