A must see places in Florence? The history of Santa Maria del Fiore

A must see places in Florence is definitely the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

It was September 8, 1296 when the first stone of Santa Maria del Fiore was laid. Today Santa Maria del Fiore is simply known as the Duomo of Florence. The Duomo was built on the ruins of Santa Reparata and was consecrated on March 25, 1436, this day was recognized as the beginning of the year in the old Florentine calendar and even today is celebrated as the Florentine New Year in Florence.
The Duomo has to be the “most honorable church in all of Tuscany and the most richly adorned with sculptures“. When the Duomo of Florence was finished in the 15th century, it was the biggest church in Europe.

A must see places in Florence? The history of Santa Maria del Fiore

The architect of the Duomo was Arnolfo di Cambio, he was very well known in Florence and had already built the church of Santa Croce. Arnolfo di Cambio never saw the ending of his cathedral: he died between 1302 and 1310. We know that in 1302 he abandoned the works and Francesco Talenti took his place, fifty years later, who enlarged the original project.  Arnolfo perhaps abandoned the work for the high costs of battles between white Guelphs and black Guelphs which consumed much of the economic resources of Florence. The other hypothesis is that Arnolfo abandoned because of the death of Pope Boniface VII, who financed the work and was his protector; or maybe for the death of Bishop Monaldeschi, promoter of the construction of the new cathedral; or for the death of the architect.

Arnolfo however left a project already started wiyh many statues and marble decorations to embellish it

The work on Santa Maria del Fiore began from the facade and not from the apse as was usually the case, this was because the square was not as large as it is today and was full of sacred and private buildings that the City had to expropriate and it took time to do so. The new church had to leave more space for the Baptistery.

In the 1366 the apse had not yet been built, it had to support the huge Cupola that Arnolfo di Cambio had already planned. The Cupola was built by Brunelleschi in the 1436.

In 1359 Talenti also finished Giotto’s marvelous bell tower, giving to Piazza Santa Maria del Fiore its current appearance.

Over the years the project of Santa Maria del Fiore (the name refers to the lily of Florence) has been modified a lot

Arnolfo’s original plan was expanded, work stopped for a long time and Florence passed one of the darkest moments of its history: it was 1348 and the plague spread through the city. Nothing to stopped the great masters of the past from building one of the most beautiful squares in the world, who knows if they could have ever suspected that even today, in the 21st century, people from all over the world come to Florence to see their works.

If you want to know all the curiosities about the history of the Duomo of Florence and about the must see places of Florence, book – during your stay at the Residences in Florence – a tour with our official guides of Florence

Tips: To visit the Opera del Duomo complex by yourself (Santa Maria del Fiore, Campanile di Giotto, Santa Reparata and Campanile di Giotto) you can find the tickets on the official website