Santa Maria del Fiore Basilica
SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE BASILICA - Italy has long been famous for its artistry, inventors, wines, and history. Since prior to the Renaissance, Italy and specifically Florence, has been at the heart of history in the making. One such historical event is the construction of the Santa Maria del Fiore Basilica in Florence. This gorgeous tribute to God dates back to the thirteenth century.
This Roman Catholic Church, in the Archdiocese of Florence, built the cathedral on the site of the previous Santa Reparata. Santa Maria del Fiore translates to "Saint Mary of the Flower" in English, lending its reference from the city's symbol of the Lily. The campus includes the Cathedral, baptistery, and bell tower (campanile). Arnolfo di Cambio designed Santa Maria del Fiore to be the largest Roman Catholic Church that the world would know in 1294, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome itself. Eventually the design would be scaled back a tad, but this is still considered one of the greatest masterpieces from the 13th century.
The cornerstone was laid on September 8, 1296 and when Arnolfo died in 1302, the project slowed until the Arte della Lana (Guild of Wool Merchants) brought it back to life to complete the Cathedral. In 1333, the Guild turned the construction oversight over to Giotto whose greatest accomplishment to the campus was the campanile. For nearly twenty years after Giotto's death the project lay dormant and was finally resumed in 1355 under several artisan's and architects to complete the campus in 1660, three hundred years in the making! Many architects lent their talents over the years including Andrea Pisano and Alberto Arnoldi, just to name a few. Generations of families gave their life and love to Santa Maria del Fiore.
The sheer magnitude of the grace and vision of the artisans is dominant throughout the Cathedral. Joyous care was taken in the creation of the pieces that adorn the architecture both inside and out, taking you back to a time of pride and dignity in the Faith. Below is a short list of some of those who have contributed to the brilliance that is Santa Maria del Fiore:
* Sacristy paneling - Benedetto and Guiliana da Maiano
* North Wall Fresco of Niccolo da Tolentino - Andrea del Castagno
* Reliefs of the Sacristy doors: Resurrection and Ascension and the choir loft - Luca della Robbia and Michaelozzo
* North Wall: Dante Explaining the Divine Comedy - Domenico di Michelino
* South side of the interior and choir loft, heads of prophets and sibyl - Donatello
* Frescoes of The Last Judgment, interior of dome - Giorgio Vasari
The completed Cathedral complex is located near Via Ricasoli and Via de Cerrentani in Florence. The resplendent beauty is one of the major attractions for both the religious and secular worlds, dominating the area with her polychrome marbled façade, three wide naves that form the cross in the middle of the sanctuary under the octagonal dome. The middle nave is over the ruins of Santa Reparta. The Doors of the Canonici and the Door of the Mandorla only hint at the delicate and detailed work provided by all those involved. Brunellsechi used horizontal tension chains of wood and iron to set the base of the dome, inventing new ways of architecture in his wake. Over four million bricks were used in the construction that did not require any scaffolding.
Visitors are enthralled by the pure sense of history and astounded by the beauty as they travel the halls of Santa Maria del Fiore. It's almost unspeakable, the immensity of the past and present as they combine together to form this wonderful complex. It is a place not to be missed.
Visiting Hours- Mon- Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 1:30pm-5pm (open sunday morning for services only).
Cupola- If you would like to brave the 463 stair climb (not kidding) to get to the top of the Dome or "Cupola" the hours are Mon- Fri 8:30am- 7pm, Sat 8:30am- 5pm. Last entrance to go up to the dome is 40 minuted before closing.
***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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