Santa Maria del Fiore, located north of the Piazza de la Signoria,
began with sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296, and for the centuries
that followed, more talented artists worked on the building's
structure. Among these artists is the famous painter Giotto, who designed
its campanile, or bell tower in 1334.
what perhaps is the greatest contribution to this structure is architect-cum-sculptor
Filippo Brunelleschi's striking octagonal cupola, built from
This Florentine Cathedral was meant to be done
in the Gothic style, started by di Cambio when he began the project.
But in 1366, artists, painters, and sculptors advised the city that
all structures should then take after Roman forms, hence the addition
of the octagonal dome.
The dome was proposed by Brunelleschi, who created
a 1:12 replica of his proposal, to demonstrate that the dome can
be built without any formwork. His proposal was accepted, and the
building of the dome lasted from 1420 until 1436. Aside from the
dome, Brunelleschi also created various statues for the cathedral.
The octagonal dome consists of eight "shells,"
where empty spaces are left to lighten the weight of the construction.
The angle ribs that you will see are not meant for structural support.
The dome is covered with an external cap, made up of tiles that
were designed specifically for the dome. The tiles are meant to
be assembled easily and maintained with ease.
The dome's dimensions are as follows: it
is perched 177 feet above the ground, and boasts of a monumental
108 feet height. The distance from one end to the other is about
176 feet, and the lantern that crowns it is about 72 feet high.
It weights a massive 37,000 metric tons, and is made up of about
4 million bricks.