Visible from afar it rises like a beacon lit by the Tuscan sun. Built almost 600 years ago it is still the tallest building in the city. Filippo Brunelleschi’s ingeniously constructed cupola defines the city of Florence and her skyline.
Santa Maria del Fiore was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed in 1436 with Filippo Brunelleschi’s cupola. The work on the dome itself started around 1418, when the Arte della Lana, the wool merchants’ guild, held a competition in order to find the best possible design and solution for the construction of a dome of this size. Needless to say Brunelleschi won.
At that time no one knew how to build such a large dome, larger even than the Pantheon in Rome. The use of buttresses to support tall structures were forbidden by the city of Florence so he had to come up with new solutions.
The cathedral is the 4th largest in the world, only St. Peter’s in Rome, St. Paul’s in London and the Duomo in Milan are bigger…