The Duomo of Florence is the church dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore; together with Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistery of Saint John, the church of Santa Reparata and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, it constitutes one big monumental complex.

The interiors of the cathedral are rich with stained glass windows by Donatello, Paolo Uccello, Andrea del Castagno and Lorenzo Ghiberti. However, the architectural masterpiece par excellence is undoubtedly the majestic octagonal dome.

It’s the largest dome in the world, and its history makes it even more interesting. It all began in 1418 with a public competition held by the Opera del Duomo, and the subsequent rivalry between two famous artists: Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti. The year prior, Brunelleschi had lost another commission in the complex and Ghiberti had designed one of the doors of the Baptistery of San Giovanni. Still bitter from the defeat, Brunelleschi moved to Rome where he could study the Pantheon and, aware of his superior skills, let Ghiberti face the challenge of the Dome alone, knowing he wouldn’t be up to it. The construction works quickly came to a standstill due to his colleague’s inability and so Brunelleschi came back from Rome, got entrusted the commission of the dome, and built the largest one in the world.

The Dome is a symbol of architectural perfection, made up of two ogival-shaped shells connected to each other without any inside support. Inaugurated in 1436, it is 50 metres high and 46 wide, and was decorated by Vasari and Zuccari with wonderful frescoes representing the Last Judgement. At the top of the dome, 91 metres above the ground, there is a panoramic terrace overlooking the city.

A visit to the monument symbol of Florence is unmissable!