Guided tour of the Duomo of Florence, one of the largest cathedrals in the world
The Cathedral of Florence tour means doing a journey of knowledge through the time that has seen the elevation, towards the sky of the city, of an imposing edifice, built to the glory of God but also as a celebration of Florence itself. By this guided tour you will then discover the events of men who, with physical efforts and great technical ingenuity, have created an extraordinary building like the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, one of the biggest cathedrals in the world.
If you have bought the ticket for the Baptistery, or the cumulative ticket for Baptistery plus the Museo dell’Opera, the guided tour of the complex can start from there, an ancient building that dates back to Late Antiquity. From outside the building, we can see the magnificent bronze doors featuring the Old and New Testament Stories. Made by the goldsmith Lorenzo Ghiberti, who worked on them for over fifty years, the doors represent an exceptional itinerary through the history of humankind salvation, as well as being an exceptional document of the Florentine sculpture of the early fifteenth century.
The splendid mosaics of the Baptistery
Entering the Baptistery, you will be fascinated by this environment rich in history and works of art; reaching the area of the altar you can see, through some grates, the surviving mosaics of domus that stood here during the Roman age. It’s looking upwards that instead you will be dazzled by the light of the splendid golden mosaics dating back to the thirteenth century and representing the Patriarchs and Christ stories, as well as an imposing scene of the Last Judgment.
Leaving the Baptistery, it will be the turn of the Cathedral’s interior which we access by a portal of the splendid church facade; although the making of the latter only dates back to the nineteenth century, it is in any case a work of exquisite workmanship to which some of the most important Italian sculptors of the time worked on.
The interior of the Duomo and the church of Santa Reparata
Inside the Cathedral of Florence, you will be completely enraptured by the grandeur of its environment and also by the puissance of its piers, carved in the local stone (the ‘pietra serena’). The vast space of the walls – simply white – is where, however, there are two important perspective painting essays of the fifteenth century, made by Paolo Uccello and Andrea del Castagno.
The painted panel by Domenico di Michelino, featuring Dante and the reigns of the Divine Comedy – probably the most famous representation of the Florentine poet – suggests a particular link between Dante’s most famous literary work and the Cathedral: we will discover together what this link is…
From inside the church, we move on with the Florence Cathedral tour descending into what is the extraordinary environment below the church, improperly defined as ‘crypt‘ which instead corresponds to the archaeological remnants of Santa Reparata, that is to say, the church that stood before the current Cathedral. Following the route available for visitors, we go to visit a truly fascinating space, since the ancient church has almost entirely preserved the wonderful mosaic floor despite the passing of the centuries and the many renovations to which it has been subjected. What can be admired on this wonderful pavement is the extraordinary representation of animals and, above all, the striking inscriptions documenting the donations that the ancient church received by faithful for its construction.
After visiting the Duomo, we go up to visit the dome (reservation mandatory, the ticket can be purchased on the online store), one of the most fascinating buildings in the world. This huge roof of the church that the Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi designed, conceals many technical secrets that we will discover as we go up …
Looking out inside the tambour, we will notice the dizzying view that can be enjoyed from that point of the church. Taking a look then at the vaults of the dome, we are able to see the gigantic figures of the Last Judgment painted by Giorgio Vasari in the second half of the sixteenth century. Once we reach the dome lantern, the time will finally come to enjoy the breathtaking view over the whole city. The conquest of the Cathedral’s top is the unmissable opportunity to take photos of Florence and also to take a selfie that you will be then sharing with friends and relatives.
The visit to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
After the lunch break, we go to visit the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, a complex of great charm thanks to its recent renovation. Among the new interesting things that can now be seen, the most spectacular one is undoubtedly the original Cathedral facade – dating back to 1296 – which has been rebuilt to 1: 1 scale with all the marble decorations that have been preserved. The museum also keeps extraordinary artistic masterpieces, some of which were once present inside the Cathedral and the Baptistery, such as the poignant Magdalene by Donatello – a wooden statue of the Florentine sculptor – or the spectacular Cantorie (choir balconies), also by Donatello and Luca della Robbia. Another astonishing work here preserved is the Bandini Pietà, a work by Michelangelo (not to be confused with his famous Roman sculpture of the same subject but the latter is equally rich in pathos like the Vatican one).
After the itinerary of the museum, we have finished the Cathedral of Florence guided tour. If you buy the ticket, you can also visit the Giotto’s bell tower that is the other panoramic point from which to enjoy a breathtaking view. Once you reach the top of that structure, by looking east you can admire the Cathedral bulk and the dome. Only at the end of this itinerary you will realize that a visit to the complex of the Florence Cathedral does not only mean knowing the events regarding a building but it means discovering the history of a great idea that has become reality.