CATHEDRAL, Interior - Platform

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English / USA Language: English / USA


You have reached the dome, which is the most sacred part of the Cathedral: you are standing in a giant octagon 42 meters wide surrounded on three sides by the platforms designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, like the petals of a flower. Every platform contains five chapels. The floor of the left-most platform has a plaque that marks the spot where the rays of the sun hit on the summer solstice, passing through a hole in the dome. The chapel at the back of the central platform holds the relics of Saint Zenobius, the Bishop of Florence who lived at the time of the Roman Empire.

The area under the dome artistically dates back to the second half of the 1500s. The eight large statues that you can see resting against the pillars depict the same number of Apostles. The large fresco of the Last Judgement covering the huge surface of the dome was painted by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari. To better appreciate the fresco and circular stained glass windows designed by masters of the 15th century including Donatello, Uccello, and Ghiberti, I suggest going up to the gallery by taking the stairs to the back left that cross the gap between the two shells designed by Brunelleschi.

At the back, to the left and right, you'll find the two sacristies: go see the beautiful blue-white glazed terracotta doors made by Luca della Robbia. The sacristy on the left with the cabinets covered with inlaid wooden panels is linked to the famous historical episode of the Pazzi conspiracy. In an attempt to overthrow the power of the Medici family, in 1478 a group of men allied with the Pazzi family attacked Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano while they attended mass. Giuliano bled to death from the stab wounds, while Lorenzo was injured only slightly and took refuge in this sacristy.

To complete your tour of the Cathedral's interior, go back towards the façade and take the stairs that go down to the interesting archaeological excavations of the ancient Church of Santa Reparata, dating back to the fourth century AD. A fascinating journey along underground walkways will guide you among architectural remains and fragments of sculptures.


FUN FACT: when the Church of Santa Reparata was still standing, the body of Bishop Saint Zenobius was transferred here from San Lorenzo.  When it was being moved, the body lightly grazed a desiccated old elm tree that immediately began to flower again. To commemorate the miracle, a memorial column that you can still see today was erected there.




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