The month of March is very special in Florence: the 25th marks the anniversary of the Dome of Brunelleschi. On this same day, in 1463, the Florentine Cathedral was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV, making official one of the most beautiful and impressive architectural works in the history of mankind.
Even more so if we think that it was built 560 years ago, without the knowledge and the technology we have nowadays. No wonder that, even after several centuries, the Duomo remains the symbol of Florence, the Renaissance and humanism in general.
With a diameter of 45.5 meters and a total height of over 116 meters, the Dome is the largest masonry vault in the world and was built between 1420 and 1436 by Filippo Brunelleschi, following the design he presented in the competition announced by the Opera in 1418.
Brunelleschi’s remarkable innovation was to rotate the dome without the use of supporting frames. The dome is actually made up of two distinct domes: an inner one, over two meters thick, with a greater angle than the other and made up of large arches joined by ribs and made of bricks arranged in a “herringbone” pattern; and an external roof, covered with terracotta tiles and marked by eight white marble ribs.
The dome’s oculus is surmounted by the great lantern: a 21-meter-high white marble tower, built after Brunelleschi’s death (1446), but following his design. At the top is the gilded copper ball with an apical cross, the work of Andrea del Verrocchio, who put it in place in 1471.
One hundred years later – between 1572 and 1579 – the inner vault of the dome was painted by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari with a great Last Judgment, partially inspired by the mosaics of the Baptistery: the largest mural painting in the world. The dome frescoes underwent a comprehensive restoration between 1978 and 1994.
For those outside of Florence who want to celebrate their anniversary at the Dome, it is possible to take virtual tour.
For info, tickets and reservations, click here.