Known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (or the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower in English) it is one of the most visited sites in all of Florence and is considered a UNESCO world heritage site. Its beautiful facade, ornately decorated interior and arching domed roof are all sites to behold and anyone visiting Florence should take time out of their itinerary to stop in and view the wonders that the Florence Cathedral has to offer.
Construction started on the Florence Cathedral in 1296 and wasn't completed until 1436. It is still, to this day, one of Italy’s largest churches and it holds the largest bricked, domed roof of any building in the world (containing more than four million bricks). Its outer walls are constructed of green, pink and white marble tiles which still look brilliant to this day. There are also numerous sculptures (some of which have been moved to local museums for restoration and protection from the elements) and beautiful stained glass windows. Much of this artwork was designed, created and sculpted by masters of their time, like Donatello, Brunelleschi, Giotto and Antonio del Pollaiolo.
Beautiful relief work is located all throughout the cathedral and some has now been removed and moved to the cathedral museum. These reliefs depict scenes of the creation of man and woman, the invention of music, wine making and other creative endeavours, the planets and astrological signs, medicine and technological symbols and the seven sacraments.
Guided tours of this beautiful, gothic cathedral are an excellent way to see learn about the history of this landmark. Tours run every day of the week, but are closed on some statutory holidays. While entrance to this site is free, purchasing tickets for a guided tour will allow you to skip the crowds and long line-ups and will gain you admittance to areas that are off limits to the general public.
When visiting, make sure that you are dressed appropriately, as there is a strict dress code in effect and those not following it may be denied entrance inside. Shoulders and midsections must be covered and all shorts and skirts must come to below the knees.
Many tours also offer the option of climbing to the top of the domed roof, which offers a spectacular, panoramic view of the city of Florence. There are 463 steps that lead to the top, through often narrow and steep stair wells. The trip up these stairs is well worth it for the view at the top but it may pose a physical challenge for some visitors. Good, sturdy shoes are recommended for this excursion.
If a visit to Florence Italy is on your itinerary, then you must take an hour out of your day to visit the wonders that the Florence Cathedral has to offer. It’s beautiful construction, both inside and out, combined with its famous artwork and the views offered from its massive, domed roof, make the Florence Cathedral one of Italy’s must-see attractions.
Getting to the Florence Cathedral is quite simple. The Santa Maria Novella Train Station is one of the busiest stations in Italy and is located right in the city centre. The Florence Cathedral is located just a short walk away. Busses, taxis and ride share programs are also convenient options when travelling from other areas of the city.