The art form of architecture in the early centuries started in Italy. From Rome, onwards, grand structures were erected to gods, demigods, and man. After the death of Christ, Christianity took over in the Holy Roman Empire when Constantine declared it the national religion. The Baptistery (Battistero di San Giovanni) in Florence is one such masterpiece that was originally built in the fifth or sixth century. It is dedicated to Saint John, or Saint John the Baptist as some sources state, and rests on Roman remains in the complex of Santa Maria de Fiore.
The balance of perfection that is on display currently began in 1050 AD and is the center of life in the city of Florence. Every Florentine citizen with ties to the Catholic faith received the Sacrament of Baptism here at the Baptistery. Even further back in the generational timeline, to the fifth or sixth century, the original Baptistery was built in Florence. Its design was that of the Lateran Baptistery in Rome, which is the most important Baptistery in the Catholic world. The foundation is said by some to have originally been part of a temple dedicated to the Roman god Mars, and was later rededicated to Saint John the Baptist. The history of the area also adds to the importance of coming from Ancient Roman traditions.
The Arte del Calimala (Wool Merchant's Guild) are the overseers for the upkeep of the Florence Baptistery from as early as 1157. They commissioned Coppo di Marcovaldo for the decorations of the octagonal dome. Into the 14th century, the Calimala sought after Andrea Pisano to create three beautifully magnificent bronze entrance doors, however only one set was completed in golden bronze relief before turmoil and the plague hit the region. With its history, the Baptistery was able to commission more door creations into the 15th century. Ghiberti and Brunelleschi created reliefs for the Sacrifice of Isaac. Twenty-eight panels were completed. On the east entrance, Ghiberti set five bronze panels between 1424 and 1452. The eastside became known as the Gates of Paradise, depicting Creation and excerpts from Genesis. The north doors offer the viewer the Annunciation by Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. Queen of Sheba and King Solomon are displayed as well.
Tuscany Romanesque architecture brought the world duotone elements using Carrara white marble and green Prato marble. The poetry of such a piece is beauty by any other name. The octagonal build is of import, as it represents the eighth day, a day outside of human existence, bringing to light the Resurrection of Christ in our lives. Inside, a mosaic by Coppo di Marcovaldo shows the faith filled divine justice in the Universal Judgment. With New and Old Testaments united in the sculptures and art, unity is offered and on display daily.
Visitors from near and far share in the rich history of Western Civilization, the Renaissance, Rome, Florence, and Italy itself. There are families that come generation after generation to partake of the Sacraments of the Catholic religion here at the Baptistery in Florence Italy. The overwhelming emotions of joy, happiness, sorrow, and love flood over the visitors from near and afar. Enter through the Gates of Paradise and share the wisps of the past as they mingle with the present, preserving the hard work of men from long ago
Piazza di San Giovanni (adjacent to the Piazza del Duomo).
Visiting Hours- Mon- Sat Noon-6:30pm, Sun 8:30am-1:30pm.
***Just a side note about attire for women in all Basilicas and Cathedrals. You will not be allowed to enter if you have bare shoulders or wearing shorts! Bring a shawl or long sleeve shirt with you.***
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