The Cathedral of Florence

- the basilica dedicated to Santa Maria of Fiore

Florence Cathedral

Cattedrale e Duomo di FirenzeThe building of the Florence Cathedral, immediately visible in its admirable lines from the hills surrounding the city, was started by Arnolfo di Cambio on September 8th 1296.

The realisation of the building required almost a century and a half, and therefore it is presumable, as it has been hypothesized by some researchers, that the initial project of the architect was drastically different from the definitive structure of the church, even though the church has almost certainly not been touched regarding the design of the peripheral walls.
In 1310 after Christ, with the death of Arnolfo di Cambio, the works of the realisation of the cathedral are slowing down, up to 1331 after Christ when, under the impulse of the most important authorities of the "Art of the Lana", they receive a new vigour. In 1334 after Christ Giotto, named maestro in charge of the Opera, defines the project of the belfry that however he leaves uncompleted, at the moment of his death, happening only three years later. The works continue with diverse problems up to the moment when, following a tender issued in 1367 after Christ, the definitive prototype of the church is chosen, designed by four architects and four painters.
The vault of the middle nave is achieved in 1378 after Christ and tow years later are also achieved the minor naves while we have to wait until 1421 after Christ to see the achievement of the tribunes and also probably of the drum of the cupola.
In 1434 after Christ are realised the last retouching of the cupola of the Cathedral by Brunelleschi, realised on an octagonal basis and moulded by two calottes having an ogival profile and unites together. The cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore in tribute to the city of Florence, was consecrated on March 25th 1436.
The evident variety of style expressed in the diverse sections of the cathedral are underlining the mutations of the artistic movements that existed along the 140 years necessary to complete the various phases of the construction.
An example may come from the Romanic style that can be seen in the blind soffit arches of the external sides, while the inside part of the cathedral, with its Latin Cross plan is gothic, because of the use of strong arches and of the ogival vaults while the external left side, where is located the door of the Mandorla, and the fašade, that even if they are in harmony with the rest of the complex, in realty they have been realised only around the 19th century.
Inside, Paolo Uccello realises in 1436 after Christ the equestrian frescoes dedicated to Giovanni Acuto, also called the "Equestrian monument of John Hawkwood", which is one of his best paintings. The artist also works on the fašade, achieving the face and the angular medallions of the big mechanical clock still working nowadays and which has the particularity to forecast the rotation sense of the unique horary hand in reverse sense.
Together with Andrea del Castagno and Lorenzo Ghiberti, in addition to realise some frescoes of the left nave, design the cartoons for the stained glasses of the Basilica.
The beautiful terracotta located on the lunette of the doors of the two sacristies, however, are attributed to the great technical genius of Luca della Robbia.
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