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Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly known as the cathedral of Florence, is the main church in Florence, symbol of the city and one of the most famous in Italy and the third largest church in the world. It stands on the foundations of the ancient cathedral of Florence, the church of Santa Reparata, in a part of the city that hosted the worship since Roman times.
The construction of the cathedral, ordered by the Florentine Signoria, begins in 1296 and ends from a structural point of view only in 1436. The initial work was entrusted to the architect Arnolfo di Cambio and then be interrupted and resumed several times over the decades (by Giotto Francesco Talenti and Giovanni di Lapo Ghini). Upon completion of Brunelleschi's Dome followed the consecration by Pope Eugene IV on March 24, 1436. The dedication to Santa Maria del Fiore occurred during construction in 1412.
The plant of the cathedral is composed of a body basilica with three naves welded to a huge round triconica that supports the immense dome of Brunelleschi, the largest dome ever built. Inside you can see the largest surface ever decorated with frescoes: 3600 m², painted between 1572-1579 by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari. At the base of the marble lantern, there is a panoramic terrace overlooking the city located 91 meters from the ground. The facade of the Duomo in polychrome marble is of the modern era, dating back to 1887 by Emilio de Fabris and is an important example of neo-Gothic style in Italy.

The religious center of Florence in the Middle Ages was far from the center of gravity, having developed in the northeast corner of the old Roman circle. How typical of the early Christian churches were built in fact, even at Florentia, behind the walls and only in later centuries were incorporated into the city. The first Florentine cathedral was San Lorenzo, from the fourth century, and later, perhaps in the seventh century, the title passed to Santa Reparata, the early church that is under the Dome and at that time it was still outside the walls. In the Carolingian period the square was a mixture of civil and religious power, with the residence of Margrave next to the seat of the Bishop (more or less under the Archbishop's palace) and the cathedral. In 1078 Matilde di Canossa promoted the construction of the ancient circle (as he called Dante), also incorporating Santa Reparata and the primitive form of the Baptistery of San Giovanni, dating back to the fourth or fifth century.
At the end of the thirteenth century the episcopalis Plataea, the Florentine Episcopal complex, had completely different spatial relationships. The Piazza San Giovanni was little more than a clearing between the Bishop's Palace and the Baptistery of San Giovanni, then the true focus of the complex, just completed with his attic and the roof marble octagonal pyramid. In the east, behind what was called then the Gate of Paradise, he was the portico of the church of Santa Reparata, which had at the eastern end of a truly harmonious choir provided with two bell towers.
Northeast also stood the ancient church of San Michele Visdomini, then moved to the north, which was located on the same axis Duomo-Baptistry, and the oldest "Spedale" Florentine; south stood the houses of the Canons, organized around a central cloister. The religious space acquitted, as normal at the time, even civic functions, such as the appointment of the Knights, the popular assemblies, reading the messages of the authorities, the consecrations to the Baptist prisoners of war, etc.

Between the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century Florence lived a peak of political and cultural flowering, which culminated in large urban projects, such as the creation of a new civic center linked to political power, then said Piazza della Signoria, the ' expansion of the city walls (1284-1333) and the construction of a new cathedral, of sufficient size and importance than the new urban context. Santa Reparata fact, even ancient and venerable, was no longer adequate to the city that is rapidly growing, rich and powerful, who had just set his accounts with rival Siena (Battle of Colle Val d'Elsa, 1269) and imposed, albeit barely, its hegemony in the chaotic arena Tuscan. Santa Reparata was described by Villani as' very large shape and small in comparison of them with such a city should "and the common documents like" Falling for extreme age. " In 1294, after trying to enlarge and consolidate Santa Reparata, finally, the city government decided to rebuild the church, large enough to eclipse the cathedrals of city rivals, including Pisa and Siena in the first place. The wealth of the factory was therefore placed particular emphasis, in order to represent the power of the town icon.

The new site
He was in charge of the new yard Arnolfo di Cambio, the architect of the new walls, already engaged in a huge joint program of renewal of religious and civil buildings of the city (he had probably worked on the vast basilica of Santa Croce and around the same time directing the construction of the Palazzo della Signoria). Cardinal Pietro Valeriano Duraguerra, legate of papa Bonifacio VIII solemnly placed the first stone of the new basilica in the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady in 1296 (September 8). He was dedicated to Our Lady "flower" that is, of Florence (the city itself), although the citizens continued to call her old title until at least 1412, when a Signoria decree imposed the obligation of the new denomination.
The work began with the excavation of foundations, then with the elevation of the walls of the aisles; thus he proceeded to leave as long as possible the church of Santa Reparata able to function as a cathedral. They are still under discussion is the question of the real existence of a project Arnolfo di Cambio, is its visibility in today's structure: the light of the few and incomplete excavations conducted is not possible to give a definite answer, but overall it is undeniable that some characters the current cathedral strongly Arnolfo think themselves although they were executed by other builders, and the existence of an original project is likely.

Santa Maria del Fiore, according to the alleged plans by Arnolfo, or perhaps the same author of the frescoes, Andrea Bonaiuto, frescoes of 1369-50 years before the construction of the dome (Spanish Chapel, Santa Maria Novella).
There is a very ancient representation of the project in the fresco of the new cathedral of the Church triumphant Andrea Bonaiuto in the Spanish Chapel in Santa Maria Novella; The building, already equipped with dome and apses perhaps reflects the wooden model by Arnolfo. There are, however, the concerns: the bell tower, too similar to truly realized, is more traditionally "moved" in the apse; the dome, although Gothic ornamentation, is a traditional hemispherical dome, without drum; perhaps it reflects more than the Arnolfo model that presented the opera by the same author of the fresco.

Arnolfo then must have already thought of a church with a large dome, inspired by the Roman model of Santa Maria della Rotonda (Pantheon), and with the intent to overcome the size of the Baptistery. Despite some uncertainties critics, excavations have confirmed that the first foundations that you can attribute to Santa Maria del Fiore is located under the present façade (the so-called wall 100) and below the side walls, then extending south facade. This confirms the hypothesis that Arnolfo had planned a large church because the current, albeit with axis rotated a few degrees further south, and with a bell tower block south of the facade. The prospectus of Santa Reparata appeared widened by about ten meters and embraced right some houses of the canons and left the old tower, which was completely demolished only in 1356. The thinness of these foundations makes it likely a design height much lower that then reached. The facade was soon underway, although according to practice was a generally postponed item than the construction of other parts of the church, because with the demolition of the first bay of Santa Reparata, decided to leave more space to the Baptistery, it became necessary to close the oldest church in order to ensure their temporary use as long as possible.

Even the great projecting balcony, although it was performed materially by Francesco Talenti, is a typically Arnolfo character clue. Critics approach the ledge of Santa Croce (traditionally ascribed) and to that of other similar works such as the Duomo di Orvieto and that of Siena. In particular, Angiola Maria Romanini remarked as the cornice-balcony is a constant inevitable [...] in all Arnolfo architectures.
On the death of Arnolfo (1302), contemporary to that of other promoters of the yard, as the Monaldeschi Bishop and cardinale Matteo D'Acquasparta, papal legate, the work underwent a slowdown and were later suspended for about 30 years.

The construction of the basilica body
After the death of Arnolfo di Cambio work halted indefinitely. In 1330 the discovery in Santa Reparata of the relics of the revered Bishop of Florence, St. Zanobi, gave new impetus to the construction. The Arte della Lana, who had been appointed to supervise the construction, in 1334 entrusted the direction of the work of Giotto, assisted by Andrea Pisano. Giotto focused on the Campanile of which provided a project (a drawing kept in the Opera del Duomo in Siena it is probably a reflection; even the iconography of the reliefs basamentali is at least partly his own) and was able to begin construction, but died after only 3 years old in 1337. Andrea Pisano continued the work, too, especially on the bell, but he died with the arrival of the black Death in 1348 and the work was again blocked.
He not much expected to resume work and already in 1349 the project passed to Francesco Talenti, who was responsible for the completion of the tower and, since 1356, the resumption of work at the basilica. A year earlier the Opera architect had requested a model to see "how, ought istare chapels behind", and it is on that date that is attributed Arnolfo enlargement project without changing the width of the nave, already large part sketched, it was reduced the number of spans, making them almost square plant, in place of the traditional plant rectangular spans of gothic matrix, so now larger and higher. The Talents realized by 1364 the top three before being discharged from the work, due to criticism, debates and threats with workers (managers of the Opera del Duomo), which proposed to fine him to force him to be more present on the site .

In 1364 a committee in which participated, among others, Blacks of Fioravante, Benei and Andrea di Cione, Taddeo Gaddi and Andrea of ​​Bonaiuto, approved the final draft of the apse area, increasing the diameter of the dome 36 to 41 meters and providing the drum with big eyes, on a proposal by Giovanni di Lapo Ghini. The latter won the role of construction manager after Talents and he refers the construction of most of the structure of the aisles.
The talent, however, was called as a master builder in 1370, when even the shape and extent of the apses had been decided. The aisles were completed with the coverage in 1378 than in 1380 in the central aisles. By 1421 the stands were performed and the drum; it only remains to build the dome.

The question of the dome
She had been in the cathedral a large cavity 43 meters wide and placed on a drum at a height of about 60 meters, the roof of which no one, until then, had even raised the issue of finding a concrete solution, although throughout the second mid-fourteenth century had developed a passionate debate.
In 1418 it was announced a public competition for the design of the dome, or even to machines suitable for lifting loads to heights never reached before by a vaulted building, which was attended by numerous competitors. The competition, generally regarded as the start of work at the dome, had no official winner: the substantial prize offered was not in fact granted. However, they brought to light two emerging artists who had already clashed in competition for the north door of the Baptistery of 1401: Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti. archival Traces report as Brunelleschi predispose a model and made a dress rehearsal for the construction of the dome without rib in the San Jacopo Soprarno church. It therefore ruled that he began to build the dome to a height of thirty arm and then decide how to proceed, depending on the behavior of masonry. The height indicated was not random, but it was one to which the bricks would have to be laid at an angle such (the horizontal axis) can not be held in their place by slow-setting mortars known by masons era (the Roman technique of "pozzolana" was no longer in use) with the risk of collapse.

Brunelleschi adopted a highly innovative solution, preparing a double self-supporting shell during construction, without resorting to traditional rib. After getting rid of his rival by a stratagem, Brunelleschi had a free hand to deal with the grandiose project, gradually solving all the difficulties that this involved: the construction of cranes and pulleys, the preparation of reinforcements, the organization of the construction site to the exterior decoration , which was resolved with the creation of suggestive 8 ribs marble. The inner dome appears huge thickness (two and a half meters at the base), while the outside is thinner (less than one meter), with the sole function of protecting the inner dome from the rain and make it appear, according to the words of ' architect, most magnificent and inflating the outside. The arrangement of the bricks in a herringbone served above all to create a foothold for bricks files to prevent them from sliding down to the mortar. For the complexity of the entity and the extraordinary result, the construction of the dome is considered the first great Renaissance architecture statement.