Brunelleschi’s Dome Florence

Brunelleschi's Dome Florence (Cathedral)

The Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence is the work of Filippo Brunelleschi. When it was built it was the largest dome in the world. One can walk between the inner and outer wall of the dome. The space is a bit claustrophobic, but this is compensated by the beautiful views over Florence.

Brunelleschi’s Dome Florence

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Piazza del Duomo – Florence. Telephone: (+39) 055 2302885. Opening Hours: From 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Entrance fee: 18 Euro (combi-ticket, including the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Santa Reparata Cathedral, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Baptistery. (Note that during the Covid crisis you need a Green Pass in order to be allowed to enter.)

History and description

Brunelleschi's Dome Florence
The Cathedral’s famous Dome.

Brunelleschi’s Dome was built between 1420 and 1436. His idea was to build the whole dome without using scaffolding. The construction took place in sections.

According to Vasari Brunelleschi won the competition to build the dome by asking his competitors to put an egg upright on a marble slab. They all tried, but no one succeeded. Of course Brunelleschi took the egg, cracked it slightly at the bottom and placed it on the plate. “That way we can do it too,” said the other architects. To which Brunelleschi replied: “Yes, and if you had my plans and models you could also make the dome”. And thus he was allowed to make the dome.

The intention was to build 8 balconies at the foot of the dome. When Baccio d’Agnolo finished the first one (after eight years of work, from 1507 to 1515) Michelangelo was asked his opinion. He answered that he thought the result looked a bit like a cage for crickets. Work was stopped immediately, and never resumed.

Andrea Verrocchio designed the golden globe and the cross on the lantern.

The dome is now full of cracks. This is partly because it is more than 500 years old and partly because people tried to brick holes with cement. As a result, the built-in systems needed to withstand the shrinkage and expansion due to weather conditions no longer work.

Brunelleschi’s Dome – Piazza del Duomo, Florence

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