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Piazza del Duomo – marvel at the monumental centre

  • Piazza del Duomo – marvel at the monumental centre

    Holding up to 20,000 people, the enormous Duomo (Cathedral) only serves to emphasise the smallness of the surrounding square and the narrowness of the adjoining streets. Now fully pedestrianised, the square is yours to wander freely, possibly even in a horse-drawn carriage, which can be picked up in the piazza. The Duomo is by far the biggest building for miles around and it is still Brunelleschi’s dome that defines Florence, over 500 years after it was built. Out of respect for Brunelleschi’s achievement, the city forbade the construction of any building taller than the Duomo. The Renaissance architect’s stroke of genius was to devise a cunning system of an inner shell and outer dome to distribute the weight of the cupola, with thick walls negating the need for further buttressing. If you have a head for heights, ascend to the gallery of the dome. Next-door, Giotto’s multicoloured Campanile (Belltower) soars above a low-slung skyline. The climb to the top is worth the effort for the panoramic views. The third star on the square is the Battistero (Baptistry), the oldest building in the city, rebuilt in the 11th century and used as the cathedral of Florence until 1228. Visit the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Cathedral Museum) to see the original sculpture and statuary that was once displayed in the cathedral. Highlights include Michelangelo’s Pietà, sculpted for his own tomb, and the Gates of Paradise, the original doors created for the Baptistry. The revamped museum now gives a truer sense of the majesty of the works in their rightful setting.

    Address: Piazza del Duomo, Florence
    Web: www.ilgrandemuseodelduomo.it

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