Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Duomo in Florence - the wonder of the Renaissance

After spending almost a whole morning at Mercato Centrale, the rest of my day was wandering around another "wonder" in Florence: The Cathedral of St Mary of the Flower (or The Duomo, or Santa Maria del Fiore) Florence is so popular among the tourists, so without map or tour guide, I can easily found what people love to see here - what I need to do was just follow the stream of visitors. The crowd took me to the Piazza del Duomo, where I witnessed the incredible beauty of three Renaissance architectures: The Duomo, the Florence Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile. 

                         The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo) in the evening

Florence was my pre-last stop during my journey around France and Italy. To be honest. I was a bit tired when days after days, trains after trains, I still kept wandering without stop around the old towns, villages, carrying my damn heavy camera bag with lenses...but when I sat down, took a rest, I couldn't sit for long...I felt I need to carry on with my walk.

                          The main facade of the Cathedral 

The Cathedral of St Mary of the Flower (The Duomo) - In order to replace an old and small church and especially when seeing other greater buildings like Pisa Tower or Cathedral in Siena, also in Tuscany, the City council of Florence approved the design of the new church in 1294 but it took nearly 140 years to finish the construction of this Cathedral.

In 1436, this Cathedral was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV and it was the first "octagon" Cathedral's Dome which has been built in history without the wooden supporting frames. It was one of the most impressive projects of the Renaissance, until now the mystery behind the construction of the double dome without supporting frame - a big and headache question for today historians, architects.

                      The Cathedral - the major of attraction to tourists visiting Florence. 

                    The entire building was the collective works, efforts of several generations of architects

                        The Cathedral is visible from far away...

                       Many restaurants, shops around the Cathedral and it was such a pleasure...

                       to have a meal or drink or even an ice cream in front of the Church...

                    The construction of the Cathedral Dome is still a big mystery to today's technology  

                   At first I thought this long queue for the church but actually to climb up to the top level. 

                        The facade took long time to finish - almost 4 centuries.

                       Some of  the original sculptures were not here - in the museum in Berlin and Paris.

                 Some lower portion of the facade was completed, the rest left bared until 19th century.

                             The amazing frescos on the ceiling of the Cathedral. 

                                  A close-up shot to see the details...

The second building, right in front of the Cathedral - the Florence Baptistery - one of the oldest buildings in the city. Built since 11th -12th centuries, famous for their bronze doors with relief sculptures. The outside of the building was under renovation, but the inside was open to public. My first impression in this Baptistery was all the statues, paintings on ceiling...but what attract most attention of the crowd were the bronze doors from the outside.

                  Florence Baptistery under renovation and covered with the canvas on the right. 

                       The relief sculptures based on some story of St John the Baptist.                

I was patiently waiting for my turn to get closer to this bronze door, but it was impossible, always some big crowd of visitors blocking there. I had to wait later in the afternoon when less visitors, but however I failed to take a photo of the entire door due to the busy crowds.

                      The renowned bronze doors at Florence Baptistery.

                   The ceiling of Florence Baptistery covered by amazing frescos.

The third building - Giotto's campanile - the bell tower next to the Cathedral, 85 meters hight, in 5 levels. I was confused a bit whether I attempted to climb up this tower or to the top level of the Cathedral, but however I gave up after the first few steps - due to tiny staircase, like in the tunnel, packed of the visitors going up and down, I couldn't catch my breath. Now I regretted not to see Florence from the top.

                         Giotto's campanile - the bell tower next to the Cathedral. 

I couldn't climb up a medieval tiny staircase with nearly 500 steps, but found this video so it would be great to share with you. Please do enjoy it and maybe some of you could do this climbing soon! 

Here are some photos of the routine life around the Cathedral of Santa Maris del Fiore in September, not the high season, but still big crowds everywhere. Exhausted of wandering, I decided to sit down here and there, sometime just in front of some shop's window display, and to observe people around me, later on when the sunlight had faded, the light on the cathedral was on...I felt partly tired after a whole day out, partly nostalgic, partly homesick after almost a long-month travel, town after town, train after train...

                        The artist was so focused on his works...never looked up

                       The lady was disappointed when seeing how the artist cartooned her...

                           I didn't like this kind of painting, but appreciated the artist's hard works.

                                          The ice-cream here was very good, I kept eating it  

                          The opera singer from Ukraine, her voice was amazing, I got a CD for 15 Euros. 

                         The artist was wondering why many pigeons around him...

                    Not only lunch time but also the "poo time" for these hard-working horses...

                   Policemen always keep patrolling in popular spots for tourists, esp. in Rome 

                     A whole family on bike 

                      Our family also has a corgi at home, they could be good friends! 

While resting nearby the Cathedral and enjoying a fresh apple that I got from Mercato Centrale, I was approached by two young Italians, they thought I would be from Philippines, judging from my sun-tanned skin, they passionately shared with me some of their religious point-of-views that I really has no idea, made some proposals...
Anyway after almost half an hour conversation, I apologized that I had to go, I left my mobile contact with them. Surprisingly, back home, someone from this religious organisation, based in Saigon did call me. I answered that I have no interest in religion, and that caller sent me a text message about their website, hoped that I would check it later.

             I could take a photo of Ponte Vecchio (the one behind) from far due to my train's schedule. 

I stayed in Florence only for one night. All my time was spent at the Market and the Cathedral, I only knew about the unique, old bridge with many shops built on its edges (Ponte Vecchio) over Amo river, later at night back to the hotel. Next morning I was rushing to find out where Ponte Vecchio but couldn't reach to it. I should have stayed longer here. My journey almost came to an end, only Rome left in my itinerary.

After checking a video of climbing the Duomo, I found this video from NatGeo about the big mystery behind the construction of the world's greatest Cathedral's Dome - The Duomo. It's well worth to watch!

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