Among the things to see in Florence, we can not miss the Dome of the Florence Cathedral. It is a must see place if you are in Florence for 2 days, a week or a month. It is an experience that must be done: climbing to the top is a unique emotion, the view is absolutely worth the effort, walking and touching the bricks of the 1400 makes you live history as a real jump into the past.
Things that have to be seen in Florence: Dome of Florence Cathedral
The construction of the magnificent dome of the Duomo revived the competition between Brunelleschi and Ghiberti that 17 years earlier had lived Ghiberti victory in the comparison for the construction of the doors of the Baptistery.
In 1418 the Opera del Duomo announced a competition for the presentation of a project for the realization of what would become the symbol of Florence. 12 projects have been presented, but only 2 have been considered. They were the projects of the two great masters.
If 17 years earlier Ghiberti won the competition for the creation of the panel of the second door of the baptistery, 17 years later Brunelleschi won the competition for the construction of the dome with his innovative project.
The problems to build the dome of the Florence Cathedral
Surely, in his initial project, Arnolfo planned to finish the cathedral with a dome, but compared to the initial project the architect who had to continue his work, he was going to find a lot of problems:
- The base of the dome of the cathedral was considerably larger and it had become an imperfect octagon. Nobody knew of any techniques to build such a large and wide dome.
- The estimated weight of the dome of the cathedral was huge (today it is about 27,000 tons)
- The structures that had to support the dome of the cathedral throughout its construction was too expensive, and required the use of a considerable amount of wood that Florence didn’t know where to find. The only source of wood for the work of the cathedral was the forest of Camaldoli in Casentino granted by the Florentine Signoria in 1378.
Brunelleschi presented a project based on a method of calculation by which he could eliminate the use of ribs (wooden frames used to build the arches). History tells us that he was considered foolish.
Do you know why the Opera del duomo decided to use Brunelleschi’s project, even if nobody knew the details of the project itself and it was considered too ambitious? The possibility to save a considerable amount of money because he didn’t need to build the support structure for the construction of the dome? No! Brunelleschi proposed to give the project of the dome to the architect who was able to hold an egg in a vertical position on a marble surface. Brunelleschi proposed to give the project of the dome to the architect who was able to hold an egg in a vertical position on a marble surface. No one was able to do this except Brunelleschi, who carefully broke the egg on one side. With the bottom flattened, the egg remained upright. Brunelleschi said that this was a simple solution if considered in retrospect. In the same way if he had revealed his plans before, everyone would be able to build the dome by seeing his design.
The construction of the dome of the Florence Cathedral
In 1422 the construction of the dome of the cathedral of Florence began: a self-supporting dome. Today we don’t have Brunelleschi’s original plans, but we know that the construction had to be developed by concentric rings of bricks in successive layers that holding up each other, while the dome was growing up. Brunelleschi uses the herringbone method so the bricks didn’t slip because of the considerable inward inclination. The dome has two caps: one inner and the outer one. The inner structure holds the whole structure and the outer structure. The outer structure protects the inner structure from the weather.
Works continued for sixteen years and during all these years there was only one death of a worker who fell down from scaffolding because of too much wine drunk. Brunelleschi ordered to drink exclusively wine mixed with water. He also invented new machines for transporting materials.
In 1436 the construction of the dome of the cathedral of Florence was completed (excluding the lantern).
The guides of Le Residenze a Firenze will be happy to accompany you on your visit to the dome of the Duomo of Florence if you book one of our Residences. Many are the private tours to discover all the secrets of Florence.
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