F The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore - jeepneyjinggoy

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

The magnificence of the the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

When you find yourself in Florence, the capital city of the Tuscany region, make sure you find your way to the historic center at the quartiere 1, this Italian city’s UNESCO Heritage Site. The quarter holds the best attractions of Firenze and can be toured on foot. It’s even best if you stay in this area while visiting, if you have time on your hands.

Quartiere 1of Firenze, where the Piazza Duomo is, is a UNESCO Heritage Site

In case you’re still planning to visit, may I suggest you do find time to stay in the city for more than a day. Florence is such a charming city where getting lost in its narrow cobblestone streets is such a treat. So, extending your day tour to the area to explore the birthplace of the Renaissance will definitely be more rewarding than owning that Gucci or Prada from the outlet store a lot of tourists are more excited to visit, at least the shopaholics.

At the center of the historic center would be the Piazza del Duomo, it’s is one of the most visited places in Europe and the world. Here in this cathedral complex stands three renowned buildings—the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery of St. John and Giotto’s Campanile.

At Firenze’s Piazza del Duomo stands three renowned buildings—the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery of St. John & Giotto’s Campanile.

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore or the Basilica of the Saint Mary of the Flower and popularly know as the Il Duomo is the Main church of Florence. It’s one of largest churches in Italy having the largest dome in the world until modern construction materials came about. However, it still holds the distinction of having the biggest brick dome ever constructed. 

The Last Judgment depicted on the largest brick dome in the world.

Constructed in 1296 and completed in 1436, the Gothic church is “wrapped” with polychrome marble panels in various hues of green and pink. Take note of the three huge portals of the church, it is made of bronze and adorned with scenes from the life of the Madonna.

The three huge, bronze portals of the church is adorned with scenes from the life of the Madonna.

The vast interior seems to be empty because this “corresponds with the austerity of religious life.” Though much of the decors have been lost through time or moved to the Museum Opera del Duomo next door, the permanent and notable features of the church will leave you in awe. Check out the dome’s The Last Judgment fresco by Vasari and Zuccaro, and the 44 stained glass windows, it is the largest project of its kind during the 14th and 15th century by the greatest Florentine artists of that time. The windows depict saints from the Old and the New Testament, Christ crowning Mary as Queen, and Coronation of the Virgin.

The “emptiness” of the vast Gothic interior corresponds with the austerity of religious life.

Christ crowning Mary as Queen on the circular stained glass window above the clock.

The church is known for its 44 stained glass windows.

A family that prays together stays together. The Asistidos with their children lighting candles of gratitude on their golden wedding anniversary.

Standing adjacent the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistery of St. John is the 84.7-meter high Giotto’s Bell Tower, one of the showpieces of the Florentine Gothic architecture design.

There are seven bells casted in different years inside the campanile with the biggest of which is the Campanone and the smallest is L'Immacolata. The other bells are the La Misericordia ("mercy bell"), Apostolica, Annunziata, Mater Dei ("God's Mother bell") and the L'Assunta.

Artworks cover the four-sided exterior of the tower. The lower level’s hexagonal panels illustrate the history of mankind according to the Bible, from the creation of man and woman to the beginnings of mechanical and creative arts. The next level is decorated with lozenges depicting the planets, the three theological and four cardinal virtues, the seven liberal arts and the seven sacraments. Statues in niches are on the next level. All these artworks we see today are copies. The original works are on display at the Muso dell’Opera del Duomo.

The heavily decorated Giotto’s Campanile housing 7 bells in various sizes.

The Baptistery of St. John, the third building of interest in the cathedral complex, is a Florentine Romanesque designed structure deemed to be one of the oldest buildings in the city where notable Renaissance figures, including the members of the Medici family, were baptized. The eight-sided structure follows the tradition of the baptisteries during early Christian time. In Christianity, the number eight is a symbol of regeneration signifying the six days of creation, the Day of Rest, and a day of re-creation through the Sacrament of Baptism.

The main food of the Baptistery of St. John

Notable features of the Baptistry are three sets of artistically important bronze doors with relief sculptures. Michaelangelo referred to the east doors as the "Gates of Paradise".

This is just one spot of the many to see in Firenze. Now you know why you need more than a day to truly appreciate and enjoy the art and intellectual center of ancient Italy, and if you must, add another day for your outlet shopping spree. Happy?


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Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on June 26, 2014.