I am embarrassed to say that I first started being interested in visiting Florence was during the Jersey Shore season when the cast lived there. I can’t say I learned much about the city other than there was a big church with a dome, but I could tell that it was beautiful. I got to explore that big church with the dome, the Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, when I was there in October.
*photo credit here
The city of Florence seems to center on the Duomo – its one of the tallest buildings in the city and its towers over the surrounding architecture. From a distance it looks like just a typical domed church, but its not until you get up close that you see how intricately designed the exterior is. The church took 170 years to complete; the dome took only 16 years. The cathedral is said to be so tall that it, “covers all Tuscans with its shadow” as stated by Leon Battista Alberti.
Photo Credit: Lauren Elise via Flickr
Since I’m a budget traveler, entry costs to tourist attractions can be a deterrent when I’m visiting a city (this is precisely why I opted not to see Michelangelo’s David), but when I realized that there wasn’t a fee to enter Duomo (and no line) I went right in! The interior is almost as amazing as the exterior, although, not quite. The mosaic tiling on the exterior of the cathedral is displayed on the floor as well, with an intricate design. The layout is the same as many other historic churches: cross shaped with the alter at the top of the point. At the heart of the cross where the two lines intersect is directly under the dome. The interior of the dome is covered by a fresco entitled Last Judgement designed by Giorgio Vasari and painted by Vasari and his assistant from 1572-1579.
Photo Credit: cedmalaysia via Flickr
Photo Credit: Michael Slater via Flickr
Photo Credit: Francisco Andrade via Flickr
There is much more to the Duomo than the main cathedral – there is also a baptistery and a bell tower and the surrounding piazza – all of which I saw but didn’t spend much time examining. I’m sure they are well worth the visit, and after seeing photos of the baptistery I am disappointed I didn’t see it! If ever you’re in Florence make sure to see Duomo and the surrounding area – you won’t be disappointed!
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