SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE CATHEDRAL
Tall and magnificent, the Santa Maria del Fiore is the third largest church in the world and a reflection of Florence’s ageless beauty
Words: Emily Georgieva
Illustration: Aleksandra Georgieva
20 February 2019
The story of the cathedral begins in 1296 when Arnolfo di Cambio laid the first stone of the magnificent building. He was an Italian architect and sculptor, who worked on several detailed project in his lifetime, including the church San Domenico in Orvieto and the statue of Madonna, an inspiration for which was the Roman statue of the goddess Abundantia.
Arnolfo worked on the cathedral from 1296 up until 1302. He skilfully intertwined different styles into the design of the basilica and the façade of the church. His technique involved classical shapes in details of the altar and an interesting twist when he was sculpturing the crow-like design around the dome. When Arnolfo died in 1310, the magistrates of the Arte della Lana continued the work on the construction so that it can be completed to its fullest potential.
In the mid-14th century, Francesco Talenti worked on completing the architectural design of the cathedral and his style of work can be noticed when discussing the position of the windows. He also completed the bell tower, while the delicate and mesmerising marble work was completed by the talented Nanni di Banco.
Later on, under the influence and will of the time that had passed, a new façade was reconstructed between 1871 and 1884 by Emilio De Fabris and his assistants. Different periods of time, several talented architects and numerous adjustments in the style and details of the façade have influenced the overview of the cathedral. The whole process of its construction is a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance and reflects the culture of the city of Florence.
The Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral was constructed to be dedicated to the flower lily, also known as the Virgin of the Flower, which is the official symbol of Florence. You can find it if you wander around the Duomo Square. It is free to visit. You can either go on your own or hire a tour guide if you want to learn more about the history and ageless beauty of the Florence Cathedral. Nearby, you will find the Uffizi Gallery and the Old Palace, also known as Palazzo Vecchio.
90m high, 90m wide, 153m long
Completed in 15th century
3rd largest church in the world (after St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London)
The construction process was 72 years long.