When you will visit Florence Cathedral, also known as Santa Maria del Fiore, you will certainly have to spend a lot of time enjoying the great beauty of its main façade.
Facing the Baptistery of St. John, whose shape can obscure part of it, the current façade of the Florence Cathedral stands out in all its beauty.
This is the main church in Florence, whose construction started in 1296 in Gothic style designed by Arnolfo di Cambio; it was structurally completed in 1436 with the dome made by Filippo Brunelleschi.
It may be surprising to know that it was not realized when this great cathedral was built. In fact, the first facade of the Duomo was begun in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio, the architect of the church of Santa Croce and the Palace of the Signoria.
But his initial designs had different modifications, because they only took into account the bottom of the facade. Finally, at the end of the sixteenth century, the facade was demolished by order of the great Duke Francesco I de’ Medici.
In the Opera del Duomo museum you can see the sketches of the original drawings as well as some of the sculptures saved after the demolition of the facade of the Duomo.
So, for almost 300 years, the cathedral has kept its main façade without decoration, something similar to what happened with the nearby church of San Lorenzo, inside which are located the Medici Chapels.
But in 1864 things changed forever: a contest was called to decorate the facade, which was actually completed in 1887. The façade of the Florence Cathedral maintains the same style as the rest of the adjacent buildings, like the bell tower and the Baptistery of St. John.
Made of beautiful marbles, in white, green and pink colors, it is designed in neo-gothic style.
The facade is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and a figure of her is placed in a central position, that can be seen under the large canopy. On both sides there are twelve figures, that are the Twelve Apostles.
Another outstanding element of the Florence Cathedral’s Facade are its three large bronze doors, which were not finished until 1903.
To appreciate the spectacular beauty of the various decorative elements of the facade, I recommend its western orientation, perhaps during the afternoon so you can also enjoy the colors of its marbles.
If you want to know something more about the Florence Cathedral’s facade, just head to guidedflorencetours.com and start exploring this wonderful city!