Florence Cathedral is a Gothic style cathedral located in Florence, Italy. It is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florence. It is also considered as the city’s main church. Also known by the name Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, which means “Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower” in English, the Florence Cathedral is actually a cathedral complex composed of three buildings. All three are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers the historic center of Florence. The cathedral is also a major tourist attraction in the city.
Florence Cathedral History
On the site where the Florence Cathedral was built, there was an earlier cathedral built and dedicated to Saint Reparata. The old and ancient building was built way back in the early 5th century and was seen to be an aging and crumbling structure. Following the lead of other Italian cities that have started building ambitious reconstructions of their cathedrals, the city of Florence started to plan a bigger cathedral since the existing one can no longer accommodate the growing population of the city.
The new church design developed by Arnolfo di Cambio was approved for construction by the city council in 1294. The first stone was laid on September 9, 1296. Due to its large size, the project took over 140 years to build. It took the collective efforts of several generations of city patrons and leaders. The building of the cathedral was on and off through the years, the inconsistency also being the reason for its long construction period. Work was passed on to several architects to continue and complete the project. Several parts of the complex was completed at different times. But as a whole, the Florence Cathedral was finally completed in 1436.
Florence Cathedral Features
The Florence Cathedral is a fine example of a church built on the Gothic-Renaissance architectural style. The cathedral was built as a basilica, characterized by having a wide central nave and four square bays with aisles on either side. The dimensions of the building are massive. It spans 153 meters or 502 feet in length, 38 meters or 124 feet wide, and with a crossing width of 90 meters or 295 feet. The height of the dome is 114.5 meters or 376 feet tall.
The cathedral complex is composed of the basilica, the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. The facade of the basilica is made with polychrome marble panels of green and pink shades designed by Emilio de Fabris under the Gothic Revival style. The basilica is considered as one of Italy’s largest churches. It is also notable for its massive dome, which was considered as the largest in the world until the development of newer structural materials. The dome still remains as the largest brick dome ever constructed in the world.