On 30 August 1436 the work on Brunelleschi's Dome was completed
A day of celebration for the city of Florence anxious to see the completion of one of the most admirable works in the history of humanity.
Exactly 585 years have passed since that August 30, 1436, in which the construction site of Santa Maria del Fiore completed the majestic Dome of the Cathedral of Florence. The works had begun 16 years earlier, on 7 August 1420, when the architect Filippo Brunelleschi was elected Superintendent of the Dome, thus receiving the most important position in guiding the construction site.
The closing of the dome worksite filled the dreams of the Florentine people, who have long been eager to see the "most beautiful cathedral in all Tuscany" finished. This is why the 30th of August was a day of celebration, as the historian Filippo Baldinucci describes:
"On the 30th of August it was closed, and furnished the Dome of Santa Reparata, and all the bells of Florence sounded, and the Te Deum laudamus was sung there, thanking the Lord for leding us to the end of such a magnificent work."
As stated in the documents contained in the Santa Maria del Fiore Archive, the religious feast of August 30 began at nine in the morning with the consecration of the Dome by Pope Eugene IV. We read that "the sounds of bells, fifes and trumpets spread through the air and the onlookers emerged from the roofs of the houses". Following the blessing, the foremen and other worksite’s masters came down from the Dome for a refreshment where they ate "bread, meat, fruit, cheese and drank wine".
Brunelleschi could finally feel proud of the work for which he had fought so much. Before being appointed Superintendent in fact, between 1418 and 1420, he had supported a competition and faced the competition of the equally famous artist Lorenzo Ghiberti. In 1420 the city divided again in two, as at the beginning of the 1400s, on the occasion of the assignment of the North Gate of the Baptistery which was precisely resolved in a confrontation between Ghiberti and Brunelleschi.
The admirable feat was completed within sixteen years during which a total weight of 29,000 tons was lifted. The average manpower presence was 60 workers per day for 270 days a year and several million bricks were used.
As evidence of the grandeur and genius of a work whose final result really deserves to be admired live in every detail.
Photo by Antonio Ficai for Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore