Santa Maria del Fiore, or Duomo, Florence

Early morning shot

Early morning shot

I think this is the most magnificent structure in Europe. Every time I return to Florence and lay fresh eyes upon this colorful, patterned exterior, I’m struck by its beauty.

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The original 6th-century church that stood on this site was deemed inappropriate in the 13th century, the same time that new cathedrals sprung up in Pisa and Siena. The goal was to create the largest church in the Roman Catholic world.

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By the early 15th century, most of the Duomo was completed (the dome, which remains the world’s largest masonry dome, was completed near the end of that century).

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Upon completion, it was the largest church in Europe. Today, it is Europe’s fourth-largest.

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Most of the façade is from the 19th century. it replaced the original unfinished 16th-century façade. Marble was quarried from three sources: Carrara for the white, Maremma for the red and Prato for the green.

Interior

Interior

The interior is shockingly spare, but corresponds to the spiritual austerity of Florence in the Middle Ages.

Dome

Dome

The painted dome shows the Last Judgment.

En route to the top

En route to the top

Dome close-up

Dome close-up

Make sure to climb up the dome’s 463 steps for the city’s best views. The first stop is inside the dome’s interior, then the path continue up to the top.

Campanile

Campanile

Campanile detail

Campanile detail

The 14th-century Campanile was completed by three different architects. The lower registers are adorned with sculptures and reliefs that show man’s evolution from original sin to divine grace.

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