N.B.The access to the Cathedral is always free, without ticket or booking.
Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the largest churches in the world. The plan consists of a triple-nave basilica with the presbytery area nested within, dominated by the large octagon of the immense dome, around which are three radial apses (or “tribunes”), each consisting of five chapels. The cathedral is 153 meters (502 feet) in length, 90 meters (295 feet) wide at the transept, and 90 meters high from floor to base of the dome lantern. The title “Santa Maria del Fiore” (Our Lady of the flower) alludes to the name of the city, "Florentia", or “city of flowers”, “destined to bloom”, and to its emblem, the Florentine lily.
The first stone of the new cathedral was laid on 8 September 1296, and the task of erecting it was entrusted to Arnolfo di Cambio. His project was similar in plan but smaller than the current building, which instead corresponds to the expansion developed by Francesco Talenti, beginning in the mid-14th century. The church was consecrated at completion of the dome, by Pope Eugenio IV, on 25 March 1436.
The external walls are covered in white, red and green marble with geometric figures and stylised flowers. The sides are adorned with four elegant mullioned windows, eight circular windows and four monumental portals richly adorned with sculptures.
The facade is a 19th-century neo-Gothic masterpiece, designed by De Fabris and adorned by the greatest Tuscan artists of the time. It replaced a previous decorated wall from the late 1600s, which followed on the demolition of the still earlier and unfinished medieval façade begun by Arnolfo di Cambio.
Inside, the naves are set out by the immense pillars and ample gothic arches of Talenti, while the floor decorations in inlaid marble mosaic are by the grand ducal workshops of the 16th-17th centuries. The space is illuminated by 44 stained glass windows, developing a design by the main Florentine artists of the 14th century and earliest Renaissance. On the walls we can admire works of art from different eras and by different hands, including famous masterpieces from the 15th century, such as the monumental clock frescoed by Paolo Uccello, the gigantic equestrian portraits of john Hawkwood and Niccolò da Tolentino, and the celebratory portrait of Dante Alighieri painted by Domenico Di Michelino. Twelve aedicules host as many sculptures from the 15th and 16th centuries, with figures of the apostles and prophets in much greater than life-size. The two sacristies are adorned with the glazed terracotta bas-reliefs of Luca della Robbia; the sacristy called "of the Masses" is decorated with the first ever example of a prospective work in wooden tarsia. The marble enclosure of the choir, adorned with figures in bas-relief, is what remains after the 19th-century purist transformations of the 16th-century monumental choir by Bandinelli, planned “in dialogue” with the gigantic universal judgment painted by Vasari and Zuccari in the dome above. The chapels are adorned with many paintings, from the 14th century (such as the polyptych of Santa Reparata by Giotto and workshop), from the 15th century (by Lorenzo di Credi, Botticini and others), and from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, on up to the 19th century.
Admission to the cathedral is allowed only to people wearing clothing suitable for a place of worship. Visitors with bare legs and shoulders or wearing sandals, hats and sunglasses are not allowed inside the cathedral. Bulky backpacks and bags are not allowed. The entrance for people with motor disabilities or impaired mobility is located on the right side of the Cathedral. The monument features the TouchAble path inside TouchAble