Florence is a city in Central Italy bathed in architectural and artistic charm and depicts a slice of history at every nook and corner. Often called the birthplace of Renaissance, Florence offers a journey of enlightenment and is an art lover’s paradise.
It was a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of that era. It has had a turbulent political history and been a witness to many religious uprisings and revolutions. This short preamble would have given you an idea of a city with numerous museums, art galleries and sculptures of some of the world’s most famous artists.
The layout and structure of Florence dates back to the Roman era. The architecture reflects the Renaissance period very strongly but has medieval, baroque and neoclassical elements.
The most popular site in Florence is the Piazza del Duomo or the historic central square. The domed cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore also called the Duomo, the Baptistery, the Campanile and the Museo del Opera del Duomo are all located here.
The historic central square Piazza del Duomo
The Duomo Complex
The domed cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is also called the Duomo and is the most famous of the buildings at the Duomo Complex .The multicoloured and imposing cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in Italy. .
The construction of this cathedral started in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The current extravagant marble exterior was built only in the 19th century.
The building of this dome by Brunelleschi is considered one of the Renaissance’s main building enterprises. The dome is egg shaped and was the largest dome in the world and till date remains the largest brick dome ever constructed. 436 steps takes one to the top of the dome from where the panoramic views of the city are amazing.
Main entrance to the cathedral
The external side of cathedral…note the intricate designs in different coloured marble
The iconic dome of the cathedral
The mosaic work on the interior of the dome
The Campanile or Bell Tower next to the Duomo is 82 metres high , built in different colours of marble and one can climb up to the top.
The Campanile or Bell Tower….note the intricated coloured marble designs
The Baptistery was built even before the construction of the Duomo. It is a octagonal structure. The Baptistery has 3 sets of bronze sculpted and gold plated doors. The most famous is the “Gates of Paradise”. The original doors are now in the museum but their copies can be seen here. The mosaic work on the inside of the Baptistery dome is also very beautiful.
The Baptistery (the campanile and duomo can be seen at the back)
The gold plated “Gates of Paradise”
Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace)
This is the old palace building which overlooks the Piazza Della Signoria, (Political Square) another famous square with Renaissance statues exhibited.
In front of the old palace is a copy of Michael Angelo’s sculpture…David
The old Palace (town hall)
Michael Angelo’s sculpture…David
Loggia de Lanzi
This is essentially an open air sculpture gallery of Renaissance art including the Medici Lions. It has wide arches open to the street resting on columns.
The open air sculpture gallery with Renaissance sculptures exhibited
Perseus with the head of Medusa
The Fountain of Neptune
This is another example of Renaissance sculpture in the Political Square.
Near the Fountain of Neptune
The Old Bridge
Another structure is the Old Bridge over the Arno River. The segmental arch bridge is peculiar in that there were shops built on the bridge which was common practice in that era.
The Old Bridge
The Uffizi Gallery is an art museum located adjacent to the political square. It holds priceless collections of art work of the Renaissance period. The narrow street between the wings of the gallery is home to a large number of local artists who have displayed their art.
The Uffizi Gallery with the narrow street between the two wings lined by street artists
Talking of street artists, most of the streets of Florence have artists drawing pictures and displaying their art works. A true testimony to their ancestry….perhaps keeping their tradition alive. One can get one’s caricature drawn from them.
Street artists ….a boy waiting patiently as the artist makes his caricature
By the time it was evening, all of us had had a nice fill of art, architecture and history. In fact I found myself trying to recollect some of my school history lessons!!
Returning to the hotel with these thoughts, we were in for some more history the next day……Rome was our next destination.
See you next week at Rome.
Till then keep your comments flowing in, and do give your feedback.