Architecture of the Duomo Florence | Design & Construction of the Cathedral
Duomo Florence is a Gothic church of incredible importance in Florence, named in honor of Santa Maria del Fiore. Its construction began in the 13th century but was only completed in the 15th century. Arnolfo di Cambio envisioned and designed most of the structure, except the dome, which was the creation of Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior boasts colorful marble and intricate sculptures, while the interior showcases a blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles.
Architecture & Design of Duomo Florence | Quick Overview
Official Name: Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Attraction Type: Cathedral
Location: Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy | Find on Map
Area: 15,000 square meters (161,458 square feet)
Architectural Style: Gothic and Renaissance styles
Main Architects: Arnolfo di Cambio, Filippo Brunelleschi
Who Built Duomo Florence?
Duomo Florence was fully completed over two centuries by two renowned Italian architects.
Arnolfo di Cambio
Arnolfo di Cambio, born in Florence, Italy, was a talented architect and sculptor. He was the chief architect of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, bringing the new Gothic-style architecture to Italy. His work on Duomo Florence became the blueprint for other Italian Gothic buildings. A gifted sculptor, Arnolfo designed many sculptures and reliefs on the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore's exterior.
Besides Duomo Florence, Arnolfo designed a few other prominent buildings in the city, including the Basilica of Santa Croce and the Palazzo della Signoria.
Filippo Brunelleschi, the man who designed the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, was born in 1377 in Florence. He was a trained goldsmith and a skilled engineer, which helped him significantly when he turned to architecture. Brunelleschi designed Duomo Florence's dome and the machines used in its construction.
He was the lead architect for other buildings like the Church of Santo Spirito and the Ospedale degli Innocenti, the first European orphanage. However, Brunelleschi is best remembered for the dome on the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. His impressive use of Renaissance-style architecture brought a new way of thinking to artists that followed him.
Duomo Florence Architecture & Design
Design and Architectural Features
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo Florence Cathedral, reflects the Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. The exterior features intricate sculptures and decorative elements, including the iconic pink, green, and white marble stripes that cover the façade. The interior is equally impressive, with soaring arches, stained glass windows, and beautiful frescoes.
Dome and its Construction
An astounding piece of engineering and construction, Duomo's dome is one of the world's largest ones, even though the walls of the cathedral were not intended to support such a massive structure. Scaffolding wasn't used either, with Brunelleschi solving the problem by constructing two shells of brick inside the other with a layer of concrete between them. The inner shell was supported by four enormous horizontal chains extended from the walls to the dome's base, providing stability and support
Structure of Duomo Florence
The exterior of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore building is made primarily of marble sourced from the nearby quarries of Carrara, Massa, and Prato.
The pink, green, and white marble used in the exterior facade were chosen for their beauty and ability to withstand the weather. The base of the building is made of sandstone, while the ribbed vaults and arches are made of brick.
The interior of the Duomo is also made of different types of marble, including white Carrara, green Prato, and red Siena marble. The intricate designs and sculptures that adorn the interior are made of stone, and the floors are made of colored marble in geometric patterns.
Filippo Brunelleschi pushed boundaries in more ways than one when designing the cupola. While it is known for its spectacular design and size, Brunelleschi had to utilize several innovative techniques and design choices to construct it. For example, he used two layers of bricks instead of a wooden frame to support the dome. The inner and outer shells were connected by a self-supporting structure, which allowed for the dome to be very large without needing additional support from flying buttresses, which are typically used in Gothic architecture. Brunelleschi also used a special brick-laying technique called the herringbone pattern, which helped distribute the weight of the dome more evenly. To further reinforce the structure, he used iron chains that were embedded in the masonry. These chains added extra strength and durability to the dome, allowing it to withstand the test of time.
Duomo Florence Interior
The interior of the Duomo in Florence is equally impressive, featuring stunning frescoes, intricate marble work, and beautiful stained glass windows.
Stained Glass Windows
Stained glass windows, including the rose window above the main entrance, add to the majesty of the cathedral. Prominent artists of the Renaissance, including Lorenzo Ghiberti, Jacopo della Quercia, and Andrea della Robbia, designed the glass windows using vibrant colors and storylines. Some of the designs on the windows depict scenes from the Bible, the life of the saints, and the history of Florence.
The main altar of Duomo Florence, located below the dome is made of white marble and features intricate sculptures and designs. Stunning frescoes and paintings surround it, including works by Domenico Ghirlandaio and Alessandro Allori.
The choir stalls, used for seating choir members and clergy, designed in the late 1400s, feature intricate carvings and sculptures that depict religious figures, symbols, and scenes. The stalls are made of walnut wood and are considered some of the finest examples of Renaissance woodwork.
Book Tickets to Duomo Florence
Frequently Asked Questions About Duomo Florence Architecture
A. Duomo Florence is an example of Italian Gothic architecture.The cathedral also incorporates elements of Renaissance and Romanesque styles.
A. The Florence Cathedral was designed by several architects, including Arnolfo di Cambio, Filippo Brunelleschi, Emilio de Fabris, and Giuseppe Sacconi.
A. The construction of the Duomo Florence began in 1296 and was completed in 1436. The facade, however, was only completed in the 19th century.
A. Duomo Florence is over seven centuries old.
A. Duomo Florence cathedral measures 153.6 meters (504 feet) in length, 40.6 meters (133 feet) in width, and 90.5 meters (296 feet) in height.
A. Duomo Florence is 90.5 meters (296 feet) in height.
A. The Duomo Florence was constructed using a variety of materials such as white and green marble, pink and green marble, along with stone and brick. The dome was made using brick and reinforced with iron chains.
A. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore's interior is filled with stunning works of art and architecture. You can admire the intricate frescoes, inlaid marble floor, intricate wooden choir stalls, and the stunning dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.
A. Duomo Florence is known for how it blends together Gothic and Renaissance architecture as well as its distinctive dome, which was considered a groundbreaking engineering feat during the Renaissance.
A. The architecture of the Duomo in Florence, particularly the innovative techniques used by Filippo Brunelleschi in constructing the dome, had a profound impact on Renaissance architecture, inspiring new developments in structural engineering, design, and construction techniques. The dome's self-supporting double shell structure, use of herringbone brick patterns, and embedded iron chains set a new standard for durability and stability in architecture, and influenced the development of new forms of domes and vaulting systems in buildings throughout Europe.
A. The dome is the largest masonry dome in the world and was a major feat of structural engineering at the time it was built. The significance of the dome lies in its innovative design and construction techniques.
A. The façade of the Duomo Florence blends Gothic and Renaissance styles. It is decorated with intricate sculptures, inlays, and reliefs narrating Christianity's story and the city's history.
A. The dome of the Duomo of Florence is unique among Renaissance domes because it was built using a double shell structure, with stone and brick used in alternating courses. The design and construction, with its intricate geometry and use of light and shadow, add to its beauty.
A. You can buy tickets to Florence Cathedral online.