7 Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Florence Duomo

Florence has a wealth of Italian Renaissance art, history, and architecture. It is a must-see destination for tourists to Italy, and also one of the most important cultural cities in the world. The colossal Florence Duomo stands out among all of these marvels. Some would argue that it is figuratively. It is both a product as well as a symbol for the vibrant creative culture that has shaped the city over the past 500 years.

Florence started construction on its cathedral in 13th century. This was long before the Renaissance. But, just a century later on the verge to completion, the men responsible for building it were forced by a 150-foot, oval hole in the roof that would house the Florence Duomo. It was not possible to find a dome that could cover the task. It would have to be the largest dome ever built to cover the hole. A dome with this size had never been constructed, and no one knew how it would be done.

The Santa Maria del Fiore dome is so well-known today that many people simply refer to it as Il Duomo. It is a landmark of Florence’s skyline and most people take it for granted. But what many don’t realize is that it nearly died before it was even born. The hole in Florence Cathedral’s roof might still be there today if it weren’t for Filippo Brunelleschi.

These are 7 amazing facts about Brunelleschi’s stunning dome:


The Dome is one the most important architectural achievements of Renaissance

Before the Renaissance, it was impossible to construct a dome the same size as the Florence Duomo and that would support itself without collapsing. Although similar structures like the Pantheon had been built before, much of the information about how they were constructed was lost in the dark Middle Ages.

Brunelleschi created an amazing (and difficult to explain) design. It featured two domes on top of each other using a herringbone brick pattern. The inner dome was surrounded by internal chains, which acted like metal rings on a barrel, to evenly distribute the weight. The only way to create such a dome was by using flying buttresses. However, the Florentines refused to use them since their archenemy Milan had already used this method to build their dome.

The massive dome remains one of the world’s largest. It is even bigger than St. It is even larger than St.


But it was designed by a Goldsmith


Photo by aislesalvotimeingh via Wikimedia commons

Brunelleschi was a local boy who trained as a goldsmith. However, he had a better reputation. He learned how to carve, draw, paint, and set stones during his apprenticeship. He was an expert on weights, wheels, and gears. He also learned linear perspective and built clocks. He went on a pilgrimage to Rome with Donatello, his friend. There he studied ancient Rome monuments to learn about secrets used in the Roman empire. He was a boy genius who grew up to be a Renaissance man. He is fascinated by and skilled in many topics. Even though there was no gold involved, his wide range of interests helped him to design the Florence Duomo.


Brunelleschi was stubborn and hotheaded, but that may have helped him win the Florence Duomo Project.

The Florence Cathedral was built in 1380. However, the lack of a feasible design for the Dome delayed its completion until 1420. This is when city leaders organized a competition to find an engineering professional who could design the majestic dome. To truly reflect the city’s grandeur and achievements, they wanted it to be huge. A Dome this large had never been constructed. It would have to be built 180 feet above ground, and nearly 150 feet in length.

Cue Brunelleschi claimed he could design the perfect dome, but refused to give details out of fear that his ideas would be stolen by others. He claimed that he didn’t require centering, but a wooden structure to support the Dome while it was being constructed. This would have been an expensive expense because wood needed to be shipped from far away. But he didn’t say what he’d replace it with. He was a fight with the overseers, and was called a “buffoon” and a “babbler”, but he won the bid. They were captivated by his plan.


His biggest rival was named co-superintendent by the administrators.

Brunelleschi was named official Duomo project superintendent in 1420. However, the administrators didn’t trust the fiery goldensmith. Lorenzo Ghiberti was Lorenzo’s arch rival and they appointed him as co-superintendent. Ghiberti was a well-respected and popular artist in the town, but their relationship with Brunelleschi was not the same after he beat Brunelleschi to the casting of the bronze doors for the Florence Baptistery. This happened in 1401 and. Ghiberti was included by the overseers to maintain Brunelleschi on track, but their distrust only led to more rivalry and more secrets.


Who might have put him in jail

Ghiberti might have ordered Brunelleschi to be jailed in 1434 after the project’s inception. This was 14 years after the opening of the Florence Cathedral Dome. Brunelleschi may have been late on his union dues, but this would not have been a serious offense to a man of his means. Brunelleschi was quickly released and watched the Duomo grow almost one foot each month.


The dome was the center of city life.

The construction of the dome was so significant in the city (remember that the cathedral had had a large hole for many decades) that it became a point of reference for Florentines. National Geographic reports that “events were anticipated and promises were to remain ‘before’ the Dome was covered.” This pressure was intense for Brunelleschi’s and the Florence Cathedral’s administrators. There were still some side projects. Brunelleschi invented an ox-powered crane that could lift and lower huge blocks of bricks and stone to raise materials onto the dome’s roof. Our favorite Brunelleschi invention revolves around how he fed his workers. Brunelleschi built a large furnace in Impruneta, Tuscany to produce the bricks required for the dome. This is where they are best known for their hearty Peposo beef stew. Brunelleschi loved this local speciality so much that he brought it to Florence to serve it to his workers. It is still a popular dish in Florence and must be tried when you are there.


Although the Dome has been around for 600 years, a visit to its top is not recommended

Visitors can now climb the 463 steps up to the top of the dome for stunning views. But, be aware, the Florence Dome climb is not for everyone. Although originally designed to aid workers in climbing up and down cathedral walls during construction and maintenance, they were never intended to be used by the public. There are hundreds of steps. They are also small, steep, and narrow. You can reach the top of the dome by stepping out onto the narrow walkway. However, those who are afraid of heights should be aware that only a thin strip of Plexiglas is between you and the cathedral floor at 130 feet below. You don’t want to hike long distances or spend too much time in small spaces.

The dome has withstanded many earthquakes and storms. Florence’s Duomo required very little renovation, other than the retouching of frescoes, polishing doors, and replacement oak supports. It is a monument to the city’s wealth and power, and a symbol of the city that can be seen from far away.

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