Santa Maria del Fiore

Nearby city buildings at Grand Hotel Minerva

The Duomo (5 min. walk from the hotel. Open to the public from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm every day)

Florence's greatest religious monument, located in Piazza San Giovanni in the city center. The Duomo that we can visit today is the fruit of 170 years of work. The first stone on the façade was laid on September 8, 1296 on the design of Arnolfo di Cambio. Many changes were later made to Cambio's design, the most obvious of which is seen on the building's external sides to the north and south. Here the first four windows are lower, narrower, and closer together than the ones on the east, from an expansion overseen by Francesco Talenti, the director of works starting in the mid-14th century The eastern radiating chapels were completed in the early 15th century and the great dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, was built in just 16 years, from 1418 to 1434. The lantern, on Brunelleschi's design, was completed after his death (1446) and the gilded copper ball with the cross, containing sacred relics, by Andrea del Verrocchio, was placed there in 1466 (the current one is only a copy because the original fell off in the 16th century when it was struck by lightning!) You can reach the view terrace on a staircase of 463 steps. The breathtaking view from the frescoed interior of the dome, especially from its top, sweeps over all of Florence... Here's a chance to take one of the most memorable pictures of your life! Giotto's bell tower can be admired in the same square. The bell tower is 84.70 m tall and about 15 m wide, a beautifully eloquent testament to Florence's 14th-century Gothic architecture, remaining true to the principle of sturdiness even as it soars upward. Climbing 414 steps, you come to a splendid view terrace. Another of the square's gems is the Baptistery, one of Florence's oldest churches, with an octagonal shape, famed for its magnificent mosaic inside, and even more so for its three bronze doors, the originals of which are in the Opera del Duomo Museum.