The dome is an absolute masterpiece of art, enchanting the world since the moment of its creation: the symbol of Florence, of Renaissance culture, and of all Western humanism.
The dome was built between 1420 and 1436 to a plan by Filippo Brunelleschi, and is still the largest masonry vault in the world. Such a structure had been planned since the 1300s, but the admirable innovation of Brunelleschi was to create it without reinforcements in wood, since none could have sustained a cupola of this size.
It is an octagonal structure in stone and brick masonry, with external diameter 54.8 metres (179.8 feet) and interior diameter 45.5 metres (149 feet), but in fact consisting of two domes: one internal and the other external, each composed of eight "sails", or pendentives. One of these sails has a greater set-back than the others and supports the rest. The two “shells” are united by the structures of 24 meridian and 10 parallel ribs, and the cavity between the twin domes hosts the stairway to the lantern (463 steps). The bricks are laid in herringbone pattern and the external dome is covered in terracotta tiles, marked by eight ribs in white marble. These converge towards the seraglio or “tightening”: the ring at the top, in turn supporting the large lantern.
N.b.IT IS FORBIDDEN TO STAY OR STOP TEMPORARILY IN THE FOLLOWING PLACES:
Connecting stairs, both uphill and downhill; in the sections: from the "Porta della Mandorla" entrance to the first balcony, including the balcony; between the aforementioned balcony and the panoramic terrace; from the second balcony, included, to the "Porta dei Canonici" exit.
The lantern is a white marble tower, 21 metres (68.9 feet) in height, whose weight counterbalances the thrust forces of the internal dome, exactly as planned by Brunelleschi. At the top of the lantern stands the "golden ball" by Verrocchio, placed in 1471, although the current one is a reconstruction made in the early 1600s. The architect would unfortunately never see this completed work, having died in 1446. To erect the structure, Brunelleschi had designed extraordinary machines and launched the first construction site of the modern era: aerial (with a platform installed at height), and organised in every detail (guaranteeing labour efficiency and worker safety). To achieve stability for the dome, Brunelleschi also enhanced the support walls and pillars and created the four semicircular tribunes of the basilica interior. Two of them can be visited during tours: the north-west tribune houses six ephemeral statues of the 16th century, and the south-west one serves as an exhibition space for the ancient machines of the Brunelleschi construction site.
Along the tour path the visitor also passes through the two internal balconies, and can admire eight drum windows from up close, by Donatello, Ghiberti, Andrea del Castagno and Paolo Uccello; also the enormous Last Judgment painted by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari on the internal vault in 1572-1579.
Visitors who climb the Dome before entering must mandatory leave inside the Luggage Storage (Piazza Duomo n. 38/r) suitcases, backpacks, parcels, containers and large and medium-sized bags and other types of objects (see the complete regulation at this link).Visitors who present themselves at the entrance with objects prohibited by the regulation will not be able to enter.
The Dome can only be accessed by booking a slot time No lift is available and there are many steps. The climb is not recommended for people with a heart condition or suffering from dizziness and claustrophobia.
It is possible to reserve free admission for the person with difficulties, by writing to the email email@example.com or by contacting the cash desk in Piazza Duomo 14, subject to availability, against a certification document. Any gratuity for the companion is subject to further considerations. For privacy reasons, the email conversation will be deleted. For any paying people to match, we kindly ask you to make the purchase online. To find out about the projects prepared by the Opera del Duomo, visit the page Project for accessibility.