Florence’s Magnificent Cathedral~Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

In English, “Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore” translates to “Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower”.  It is a stunning example of Gothic design, which was started in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio.  Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore was built on the grounds of a former church, Saint Reparata, built in the 5th century.   Saint Reparata was deteriorating, and deemed not large enough for the growing city, so they began a new, larger cathedral in the late 1200’s.

The cathedral was completed in 1436, with the Duomo (Dome) engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi.  The exterior consists of pink, green and white polychrome marble panels.  The facade was completed in a Gothic Revival style by Emilio de Fabris.   The Dome remains the largest brick dome ever constructed, and the cathedral is one of Italy’s largest.

I hope you have your walking/climbing shoes on today….because I promised you we’d be climbing the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo/Dome!   The stairway and walls are cool, because the walls are thick mortar, much like a basement wall.  Many of the steps are pie-shaped wedges, that go in a spiral design, as if you were climbing lighthouse steps.  Every once in awhile, you come to a flat area with a window, or a set of straight, wide, flat stairs.  It’s a nice change.   When you get to the door near the top, you are just below the marvelous painted ceiling.  There is a safe walkway all the way around the inner dome, so you can view this beautiful painted ceiling.  At the end of the circular walkway is another door, and  once again, you continue your ascent to the top.   When you reach the top, there’s a wide area to walk around, with a railing and benches.  Beautiful marble arches dissect the dome’s top walkway.  It’s quite a sight as you gaze down upon Florence and the surrounding countryside.  It makes the climb very worthwhile!   

Here we go on today’s tour:  the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Duomo..views from the top.  I don’t have interior photos from the Basilica.

Thanks for going along today!  The next post will be San Gimignano, Italy~  a wonderful walled hill-town in Tuscany.  If you want more information about Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, click here.  The story of the building of the Duomo by Brunelleschi is an amazing story, and I believe this link tells about it.


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20 thoughts on “Florence’s Magnificent Cathedral~Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

    • What a gorgeous photo of the ceiling! I took a lot of interior shots on my first trip to the Basilica years ago. It’s such a beautiful cathedral. Thank you for sharing!

    • Indeed! We have nothing this old in the US. So it’s just amazing to hear numbers like the 13th century, or the 1100’s. Wow! I love to hear the stories too. Thanks, Zelmare.

    • That’s exactly right! The view is so worth the climb. We got out of the way of some younger people who were “scrambling” up the steps, as we were not going that fast!! And then we continued! Thanks, Judy!

  1. The attention to detail and the time it must have taken to complete such a work of art really amazes me. I love the outside walkway and those views! We’ve been to Italy twice now but haven’t made it to Florence yet. We’ll definitely have to go there next time around!

    • Thank you, Jim. I love that cathedral. (But I think Siena’s grabbed my heart! Stay tuned!) When you think of the years it was built….it just astonishes me! The doors on the Baptistry and the Basilica are just stunning. I couldn’t agree with you more!

  2. These photos are great Judy, I loved them all ! I just love these pink, green and white marbles, it’s beautiful. And I love the contrast of the brick dome against the pale marble. What a stunning view you had up there in the dome ! The countryside is beautiful. Were your legs sore the next day ? 😉 This cathedral is magnificent, how wonderful you could return to Italy once again !

    • The steps are made for 12th century people, I’m sure! They vary in width and length, shape and height…at times. Yes, my old legs were tired…but it’s so worth the “hike”! Thanks for your compliments!

  3. Beautiful building – must have been an awesome visit. We have a lot of old castles (in Wales and Scotland anyway) with those spiral staircases and hundreds of steps – you have to watch yourself though as, because they’re so old, they’re usually very worn steps and sometimes polished and slippery. There’s usually a rope handrail or something though which helps…

    • Yes, they were very polished and often slippery. A young woman ahead of us was turned down at the church door, (I’m assuming) as she was pregnant. She was not happy, but I can see the cathedral’s point. Most of the way on the stairs there were no handrails or ropes. I kept my balance by using my hand against the wall. For all the work, the view is so worth it!

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