Audio File length: 2.48
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, I'm Debbie, your personal guide. Together with MyWoWo, I'd like to welcome you to one of the wonders of the world.

Today I'll accompany you through the Piazza del Duomo, or Cathedral Square, of Florence.

The Cathedral of Florence is one of the most beautiful churches in the world!

Your visit to Florence can only start with the complex of buildings that includes the Baptistery, Giotto's Bell Tower, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore: by themselves, these three buildings are already enough to give you a full understanding of Florence's fame as the world capital of art and beauty.

Take in the whole square and its monuments with sumptuous white, green, and pink marble finishes: doesn't it seem perfectly coherent, as if it all belonged to a single project? And instead just think, this is the result of a long process that lasted more than two millennia! You are in fact on the northern edge of the Roman encampment where the colony of Florentia was founded in the year 59 BC. Underground you can still see traces of the Roman city's walls. The transformation of this area into the city's Christian center took place about 1600 years ago when the Basilica of Santa Reparata was founded, of which you can still see the remains under the Cathedral's floor. The oldest monument in the square is the octagonal Baptistery, which is so old that no one knows exactly when it was founded, but only that it already existed in the year 897. Its geometric covering with alternating green and white marble slabs would become the unmistakable image of Florence's monumental architecture.

At the end of the 1200s the Gothic Cathedral began to take shape, and was dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore: the project planned for a colossal building large enough to hold an impressive thirty thousand people. Work on the Cathedral continued for centuries. In the first half of the 1300s, Giotto's sturdy Bell Tower was built,, and in the early 1400s Brunelleschi's immense dome began to take shape.  But it wasn't until the 1800s that the square was finally finished, first with the construction of the buildings on the south side and then with the marble covering of the Cathedral's façade, which had remained unfinished for centuries.


FUN FACT: if you're in Florence around Easter, don't miss the "Scoppio del Carro" on Easter Sunday. It's a folk festival where from the high altar, the Archbishop fires a rocket that hits an oxcart parked in front of the Cathedral, thereby setting off a tower loaded with fireworks.

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