The Duomo is a part of Santa Maria del Fiore, however, any reference we read or heard in regards to this amazing cathedral, it was usually referred to as the Duomo. This is due in part to its original name of: Il Duomo di Firenze.
Construction on Santa Maria del Fiore began in 1296. Designed by Arnolfo di Cambrio in the gothic style, it wasn’t fully completed until 1436. The huge dome (Duomo) was engineered by Fillipo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi was a man ahead of his time. He managed to determine the number of man-hours that would be lost by workers climbing up and down ladders to eat, go home for the day, use the facilities, etc. So he devised an ingenious plan. As construction on the dome continued and the dome and the height increased, he had facilities, apartments, and kitchens built-in to the dome. This minimized the amount of time lost by workers travelling back and forth. Pretty smart, wouldn’t you agree?
Santa Maria del Fiore is considered to be in the heart of Florence’s religious center. The
religious center itself is formed by the union of Piazza San Giovanni (St. John Square) and Piazza Duomo (Cathedrale Square). Within this area, you will find the Baptistery (the oldest building in Florence and dedicated to St. John the Baptist), the Bishop’s Palace, Santa Maria del Fiore and Giotto’s Bell tower.
As large as the Duomo is, you would think that it would make an excellent landmark; one that is visible regardless of where you may be at within the city. We found a few spots where, at street level, you could get a glimpse of the Duomo, but for the most part, you don’t see her until you literally walk into the square.
It was breath-taking when we walked into the square and first saw this magnificent cathedral with the bell tower and baptistery. We were so overwhelmed with awe, that we didn’t realize the square is an active square as far as vehicle traffic goes. It wasn’t until a police car gave us a friendly “honk” that we realized we were in the way of traffic.
Wrapped in white marble, the buildings that make up the religious center take on various colors throughout the day and are most vibrant at sunset and sunrise. The Baptistery, Bell Tower and Duomo are very popular building for tourists. Lines for tickets and entrance are quite long and can be up to a two-hour wait, if not longer. We recommend you purchase
your tickets in advance or reserve a small group tour that will get you to the front of the line as well as give you a narrated history.
Unfortunately for us, our schedule didn’t allow us time to go through the interior of these beautiful buildings. All the more reason to go back!