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Baptistery of St. John

The Baptistery dedicated to Saint John the Baptist , patron of Florence , stands opposite the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Flower , in Piazza San Giovanni .
It was originally located outside the circle of walls, but it was understood, together with the cathedral, in the walls built by Matilde of Canossa ("fourth circle"). Originally it was surrounded by other buildings, such as the Archbishop's Palace which came much closer, which were cut down to create the current square. The baptistery has the minor dignity.
The baptistery is located between piazza del Duomo and piazza San Giovanni , between the duomo and the archbishopric, in the religious center of the city. The main facade of the octagonal building is east , towards the duomo, while the apse is located at west .
The origins of the monument are one of the most obscure and discussed themes of the whole history of art. Until the sixteenth century the ancient Florentine tradition was followed, according to which it was originally a temple of the god Mars , modified in the Middle Ages only in the apse and in the lantern. In the following centuries, however, this idea was gradually abandoned, because at the end of the nineteenth century, excavating under the building, the remains of Romanes, probably of the I century <108 > dC, with mosaic floors with geometric motifs. It was therefore considered that this would demonstrate the medieval origin of the monument, and most of the current theories are based on this assumption. Today, however, scholars remain divided among those who, based on the classical architectural features, think of a paleo-Christian era ( IV - V century AD), and who, on the other hand, to the thousand for the archaeological finds that have been said and also for a document attesting to the consecration done by Pope Niccolò II on 6 November 1059; and there are also those who propose subsequent transformations between VII and XI century and even beyond, even up to the thresholds of the Renaissance.
These different explanations show how much the problem is still open, and it has to be added that in recent years the hypothesis that Florentine traditions did say was basically true when they said that the monument had been a 'Temple of Mars' which has never been traced), in the sense not of pagan temple, but of a commemorative building of the Victory of Stilicone on Radagaiso, which took place in Florence in 406 and remembered by all historians of time as an extraordinary fact so much so that Sant'Agostino brought it as an argument against the pagans to demonstrate God's power. Only later, then, the building would be consecrated to Christian use, as has happened to many other ancient monuments. In this case, the Roman finds of the excavations should be explained not as the remains of barbaric devastation of the century, but as demolitions carried out in the same 5th century before construction and just to make room for the building. The quality of its architecture should therefore be referred not to the Florentine Romanesque but to the late Romanesque.