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Inside the Florence Cathedral – what to expect on your visit

Florence Cathedral, also known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, has a rich history and stories concealed within its walls.

Built over 142 years, the Cathedral infrastructure was revised multiple times before it was completed in 1436. 

Now Florence Cathedral is the third largest Cathedral in the world. 

It holds 44 stained glass windows, the biggest brick dome in the world, artistic sculptures and more. 

This article shares everything you need to know about the Florence Cathedral’s interiors before you visit. 

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The Nave

The Nave is the central part of the Cathedral Building. 

As you enter the Nave, you are greeted by high arched ceilings supported by massive columns that seem to reach for the heavens. 

The architecture shows the skilled craftsmanship of the architects and artisans involved in its creation.

The Nave is often crowded with visitors and worshippers, yet the vastness of the space allows you to enjoy the beautiful art.

The pulpit

The pulpit is a raised platform from where the preacher delivers sermons. 

The pulpit inside the Florence Cathedral is an exquisite work of art sculpted by the brilliant Donatello. 

The intricate details and lifelike figures are considered a sculptural achievement.

Altar

The high altar is at the end of the nave, a focal point of religious devotion and ceremony. 

The area surrounding the altar is adorned with sumptuous decorations, emphasizing the significance of this sacred space.

Duomo Dome or Brunelleschi’s Dome

Duomo Dome or Brunelleschi’s Dome
Photo by Luca Lago on Unsplash

The dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi for the Florence Cathedral is often seen as the symbol of Florence. 

It is the largest brick dome in the world. 

The most exciting fact about this dome is you can climb it! 

The climb begins from within the cathedral as you reach the dome’s entrance. 

You will climb through narrow staircases and dimly lit passageways.  

This is a great chance to observe the structural intricacies of the dome. 

During the climb, you can get a close look at the frescoes on the dome’s interior.

The frescos depict scenes from the Last Judgment and other biblical narratives.

Once you reach the top, get onto the exterior walkway and look ahead.

You will be rewarded with panoramic views of Florence and the surrounding Tuscan landscape. 

The sight of red-tiled rooftops, historic landmarks, and the meandering Arno River below is breathtaking.

Stained glass windows

There are 52 stained glass windows inside the Florence Cathedral. 

There are eight stained glass windows beneath the dome. 

They were designed between 1434 and 1445 by significant artists like Donatello, Ghiberti, Castango and Uccello.

Also, the Cathedral has 44 stained glass windows spanning over five-meter in diameter. 

It depicts the stories of Mary and Christ.

This piece was created at the end of the fourteenth century.

Carved Choir Stalls

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is known for its beautifully carved choir stalls. 

These intricate and ornate choir stalls are located in the cathedral’s interior and showcase exceptional craftsmanship of the Renaissance period.

Several renowned artists, including Luca della Robbia and Donatello, designed and sculpted the choir stalls. 

The choir stalls are made of wood. 

You can see the various biblical scenes, depictions of saints, various symbolic motifs, etc, carved in the wood.

Each stall showcases incredible attention to detail. 

Crypts

Did you know that the florence Cathedral was built on the Church of Santa Reparta? 

During an archaeological excavation, the researchers found the most renowned crypt in Florence beneath the Cathedral – the Crypt of Santa Reparta. 

The Crypt Santa Reparta holds archaeological treasures dating back to the early Christian and medieval periods. 

You can explore the ancient remains, including fragments of mosaic floors and early Christian tombs, revealing the layers of history that have shaped the city.

Frescoes

The interiors of the Florence Cathedral have a grand collection of frescoes on its walls, ceilings, and dome. 

Here are a few frescos inside Florence Cathedral that you cannot miss:

Dome Frescoes by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari

The dome’s interior is adorned with a breathtaking fresco called the “Last Judgment.” 

Giorgio Vasari started the fresco, but Federico Zuccari completed it after Vasari’s death. 

The fresco depicts scenes from the Last Judgment, featuring angels, saints, and the resurrected souls ascending to heaven or descending to hell.

Lantern Frescoes by Federico Zuccari

The lantern at the top of the dome features a fresco by Federico Zuccari- the Ascension of Christ. 

This majestic scene depicts Christ rising to heaven, surrounded by angels.

Choir Stalls Frescoes

The wooden choir stalls inside the cathedral are adorned with intricate carvings. You will find painted scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist, etc.

Florence Baptistry

Situated just before the Florence Cathedral, the Baptistry is a part of the Cathedral complex. 

The Baptistry’s origins can be traced back to the 4th or 5th century. 

The most important item you will see here is the three grand bronze doors on the exterior of the baptistry. 

Lorenzo Ghiberti designed these doors as a Renaissance art masterpiece, depicting scenes from the Old Testament and known as the “Gates of Paradise.”

The interior’s centerpiece is the beautiful baptismal font, an octagonal structure crafted by Andrea Pisano and later enhanced by sculptor Donatello.

The Baptistry’s most treasured feature is its magnificent mosaic work. 

The mosaics cover the dome, vaults, and walls, depicting scenes from the Last Judgment, biblical stories, and the lives of saints. 

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Baptistry is its acoustic properties. 

Suppose you are fortunate enough to witness a demonstration by a guide or singer. 

In that case, you will experience the incredible echo within the building, adding an extra zing to your visit.


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FAQs

1. What is inside the Cathedral of Florence?

The Florence Cathedral inside has artistic masterpieces, stunning frescoes, an ornate altar, a huge dome, intricate mosaics, historical relics, and beautifully carved choir stalls.

It also holds stained glass windows, brick domes, frescos and more. 

2. Can you go inside Florence Cathedral?

Yes, you can go inside the Florence Cathedral. 

You can see all the frescos, mosaics, choir stalls, and the inside of Brunelleschi’s dome.

3. What is the most famous part of the Florence Cathedral?

The most famous part of the Florence Cathedral is its iconic and impressive dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.

4. Why is the Florence Cathedral famous?

The Florence Cathedral is famous for its stunning dome, Renaissance art, historical significance, and Gothic architecture.

Featured Image: Commons.wikimedia.org

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