The Duomo, or Cathedral, of Florence dominates the city with its pink marble façade and its famous dome.
The considerable differences in the various parts of the Cathedral are evidence of the clear changes in style over the long period of time from the laying of the foundations to completion of the work.
In fact, Arnolfo di Cambio began the construction of the Cathedral in 1296, but it was finished almost two centuries later, except for the façade which was completed much later.
On Arnolfo’s death, around 1310, work slowed down, until 1331 when construction was restarted with new vigour. In 1334 the task was continued by Giotto, who built the bell tower, also in white and pink marble; but three years later, Giotto died.
There were many interruptions, but finally, in 1380, the minor naves were completed.
The bas-reliefs are by Pisano and Robbia; the dome, in Renaissance style, is the work of Brunelleschi, who had to overcome one difficulty after another to create this marvel of such large dimensions: at last, in 1436, the dome was completed.
According to many specialists, Arnolfo di Cambio’s project was different from the structure that we see today, but the outer walls are original.
The façade, although reminiscent of the gothic style, is of the eighteen hundreds and dates back to 1887, when it was constructed by Emilio de Fabris, after Francesco de’ Medici decided, in 1588, to remove di Cambio’s façade, which had never been finished.
The façade walls of the Duomo are in polychrome marble, echoing that of the Baptistery.
On the left side of the Duomo there is the Mandorla door, of the XV century, whose architectonic composition and ornamentation are in gothic style.
The bare and austere interior, also gothic and in the shape of a Roman cross with three naves separated by pillars in various styles and wide-spanned groined pointed arches which are also featured in the windows and doors, contains various works.
On the inside of the façade are the Heads of the Prophets (Paolo Uccello, 1443), to the left, just before the transept; the stained glass window shows Dante and his worlds (Domenico di Michelino, 1465); the vaults of the dome have frescoes by Vasari and Zuccari (the Last Judgement, 1579); the terracotta works, on the windows of the doors of the two sacristies, are by Luca della Robbia, while the stained glass of the rose window was designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti.
Behind the Cathedral there is the Museum of the Duomo Works, containing the original moulds taken for the doors of the Baptistery, Brunelleschi’s funeral mask, the instruments used to construct the dome, and a magnificent exhibition of statues, including works by Michelangelo.
The temple, dedicated to S. Maria del Fiore, was consecrated on 25th March, 1436 and its name pays homage to the city of Florence.