The Duomo of Florence is a tall renaissance structure built by the Florentine architect, Filippo Brunelleschi. It is built next to the Florentine baptistery in Florence, Italy, and is located in the spectacular Piazza del Duomo. This 13th century gothic structure was named after Santa Del Fiore and was built on top of the ruins of a cathedral known as Santa Reparata from the 800s AD.
The main structure began under the command of the architect Arnolfo Cambio, the famous cupola dome that makes up the main feature of the outer face was designed in the 1500s. This structure is in line with the plans made by Filippo Brunelleschi. In their honour the two architects have their statues built outside the dome. As with many things in Italy, there is never any real hurry, and in the Duomo’s case this is no exception: it took nearly 200 years to finish!
The consecration was done soon after the completion of the Duomo even if the though the lawn was still unfinished. It wasn’t until the later half of the 1900s that the lawn area was finished and as a consequence this area of the Duomo incorporated a lot of modern design and architectural thinking of the day.
By the time of completion the gothic structure took the title of the fourth largest cathedral ever built after St. Peters of Rome, St. Paul in London and Duomo of Milan. Its exterior was designed with a tapestry of white, green and pink marble while the interior itself can feel a little bit of a let-down until you see the inside of the Duomo itself. One of the main attractions of the Duomo of Florence is the classy, mosaic pavements. The clock at the entrance was built in 1400 by the artist, Paolo Uccello, to be in line with ora italica which stipulated that 24 hrs ends at sunset. Incredibly, the clock still works!
The most fantastic artwork within the cathedral are the frescoes by Giogio Vasari dubbed the Last Judgement which he completed between 1572 and 1579. The painting of the frescoes were done by his brilliant but considered less creative student Federico Zuccari in 1579.
Florence Duomo Architecture
With a nave that spans 150 meters, the cathedral has a double dome, so that there are in fact two dome, one inside another. If you’re feeling adventurous then you can also climb to the top and enjoy the views (see below).
Given its size, the Duomo took nearly 140 years to build with the initial construction starting in 1296 and the consecration happening in March 1436. While it is often referred to as Duomo of Florence, its official name is Santa Del Fiore which translates to ‘Our Lady of The Flower’.
Where’s the best view of Duomo, Florence.
If you are in the Duomo then you are obviously not able to see and marvel at it from a distance so exactly where can you find the best view of the Duomo in Florence? For sheer wow factor you can’t beat the view from Piazza del Duomo itself, on a moonlit night it can look particularly spectacular. Another classic view is from Piazzale Michelangelo, which can be reached either by bus or by walking up from the Niccolo door found in the area of Oltrarno (this is also a lovely area in the summer months with wine bars that spill onto the cobbled roads and generally a good movida – the best pizzas can be found at the Beppe Fioraia). A little further up the road from the Piazzale, you can find the Church of Santa Miniato, and from here looking through the gates towards the Duomo you get the same visual effect of mountains peering through the clouds when flying. For the more adventurous, on the opposite hill to the Piazzale, you can find the town of Fiesole. Take the bus from the central train station and take in the view from Monastery of San Francesco. It’s a steep climb to the monastery, but well worth the walk (while in Fiesole you could take in the Archaeological area which features an Etruscan temple and a Roman theatre – there is also a coffee stop as well!).
Florence Duomo Steps – how many steps are there?
There are approximately 450 steps from the bottom to the top of the Florence Duomo. I can tell you that near the top they do get decidedly narrow and the final chute up to the very top, involves climbing a ladder vertically for about 3 metres. It can get quite claustrophobic and this is worth mentioning for sufferers. For those that make it to the top the view from the Florence Duomo looking across Florence is fabulous, and allows for some great peeking over the walled facades that serve to obscure the public facing buildings from their grand interiors.
Florence Duomo Tickets – where to buy tickets for the Duomo
Since the centre of town has been pedestrianized the Piazza del Duomo is a very lovely traffic-free zone. The ticket office can be found on the North side of the Piazza. Whether you are looking for Florence Bell Tower tickets, or tickets for just the Duomo of Florence, there are automated ticketing booths that accept credit/debit cards as well as tickets booths with tellers that can issue tickets for specific visits. There is a standard tickets which, at the time of writing, costs Euro 15 and grants access to the Baptistry, and Duomo. Readers planning a holiday should be aware that it is also possible to purchase tickets online. This is not recommended because the prices of the tickets being sold online are really expensive. They are expensive because of the markup necessary to pay the companies that are convincing people that they are the best options, which they aren’t!
Florence Duomo dress code
Italy is a catholic country and while dress codes may not be enforced with the same amount of rigour in protestant countries, the simple fact is that wherever you are in the world, being respectful of religion is going to lead to a more enjoyable holiday. Women should not wear clothing that exposes above the elbow or above the knee. I’ve never seen tourists being turn away, and many men are wearing shorts in the summer months. Nearby there are stands selling shawls and things that you can invent into solutions if there is a problem.
Video explaining how to Dome manages to stand up!
A 50 minute documentary all about the Duomo of Firenze
Florence Duomo hours of opening
The Duomo Florence observes the following times of opening and closing: Open daily from 10am – 4:30pm, on Sundays there may be some restrictions in place for the hours of opening due to Sunday mass. Other annual events that could limit access to the Florence Duomo include: Easter mass and Christmas mass. It is closed on 1 January.
Apartments near the Duomo of Florence
If you are planning a holiday in Florence then our modern, clean and quiet apartment is located a 12-15 minute walk from the Florence Duomo. It is a very pleasant stroll down Via Cavour from the Liberty area of Florence, and brings you straight past the local tourist information office where you can find out about any special events happening during your stay. The apartment can sleep up to six people which is good for people on a budget or families looking to stay together (if travelling in couples, there are two zoned areas which allow for privacy).
Click here to see our apartment in Florence