Florence's Duomo:

everything you need to know about its Cathedral, Baptistery and Giotto's bell tower

When planning your visit, the cathedral and baptistry should be right at the top of your list of what to do in Florence. A highlight is Florence's Duomo or Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. With its beautiful Renaissance dome, the cathedral is one of Italy's most famous symbols and an important part of its cultural and political history. Designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, this Gothic cathedral was begun in the 13th century. Filippo Brunelleschi's cupola was added two centuries later. The cathedral sits on the site of a former 7th-century church, the remains of which can be seen in the cathedral's crypt. 


Other highlights of Florence's Duomo include beautiful mosaic pavements and colourful frescoes of the Last Judgement designed by Giorgio Vasari. Enjoy panoramic city views from the top of Brunelleschi's cupola: entry to the cathedral is free, but be prepared for long queues at popular times.


Standing next to the cathedral is the stunning campanile or bell tower designed and begun by Giotto di Bondone in the early 14th-century. Like the cathedral, Giotto's bell tower is cladded in white, red and green marble. Climb the 414 steps to its projecting terrace for more stunning city views.


Also on the Piazza del Duomo is the Baptistery dedicated to St John the Baptist. This building, with its unusual octagonal design, is one of the oldest religious sites in Florence. Some historians believe it is built over the remains of a Roman temple dedicated to Mars. From the 11th century right up until the end of the 19th century, all Catholics born in Florence were baptised here. The Baptistery's facade features a geometric pattern of Italian marble while the inside has spectacular mosaic decorations. The Baptistery's outstanding feature, however, is its beautiful doors, some of which were designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti. It is open daily, except for the first Tuesday of every month, from 08:15-10:15 and 11:15-19:30 on week days, from 08:15-18:30 on Saturdays and from 08:15-13:30 on Sundays. 


Just a ten-minute stroll away from Florence's Duomo and the Baptistery is the Uffizi Gallery, a fascinating labyrinth of rooms that contain the artistic treasures of Florence. The gallery is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8.15a.m.-6.30p.m., with tickets about € 12 for standard tickets. To beat the queues, we recommend booking online in advance, perhaps even at the same time as you book a flight to Florence with us.

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