The incredible church of Santa Maria del Fiore (English: Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower), whose construction was planned by Arnolfo di Cambium, today is the third largest church in the world, surpassed it in size only by Saint Peter in Rome and Saint Paul in London. Santa Maria del Fiore is the third and last cathedral, which was erected in Florence.
The temple is remarkable for its unique architecture, which finds a clear allusion to the lilies, which are the symbol of Florence. Once the church Santa Maria del Fiore was the largest in Europe of its time, as there was space for 30, 000 faithful. Nowadays the main basilica, Florence ranks fifth in size.
The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower was built on the foundations of the old cathedral of Santa Reparata. Its construction was inspired by the new cathedral churches in Pisa and Siena. According to historical sources, by the end of the 13th century, the Cathedral of Santa Reparata was crumbling under the pressure of time and natural influences.
In addition to this fact comes the fact that the church became dysfunctional with its small size, which was insufficient to accommodate even a small part of the believers in Florence. Leaders and citizens of the Italian city had rampant desire to erect a temple to surpass the brilliance and beauty of Tuscan rivals, Pisa and Siena.
The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is located north of the Piazza de la Signoria. It took nearly six centuries to build the brilliant temple, designers have been at least six architects. The foundations of Santa Maria del Fiore are made by order of Cardinal Pietro Valerian Duraguera on September 9, 1296.
The first architect of the basilica is the sculptor Arnolfo di Cambium, but later many Florentine artists continue its construction, which continued for centuries. In the early 14th century, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is designed with three large vessels, ending in a dome with an octagonal shape. The middle vessel is located on the site of the old cathedral "Santa Reparata". After the death of the architect Cambium, construction stops for thirty years.
Around 1331 the trade guild in Florence decided that construction of the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore should continue. Giotto was appointed as the architect who works primarily on the church tower, which is now notorious worldwide for its unique architecture. The amazing tower of Giotto was completed in 1334.
After the death of Giotto (1337), the plague epidemic was raging in Florence, with the result that the work continued until 1349. The completion of the temple was transferred successively to a number of architects - Francesco Talenti, Giovanni di Lapo Ginina, Alberto Arnaldo, Giovanni d'Ambrodzho, Neri di Fyoravante and Andrea Orkanya. The huge octagonal dome of Santa Maria del Fiore was built in 1420-1436 by Brunelleschi and today is a symbol of Florence. The copper sphere on top of the dome is placed by Verrocchio in 1472.
The incredible dome of Santa Maria del Fiore is built over 15 years and its design is inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. Brunelleschi's idea is to build two domes - one inside another, so that the one supports the other.
Internal dome bricks are arranged in zigzag style to protect, and hold. As a result of the advanced thoughts of the architect, the church Santa Maria del Fiore is a kind of masterpiece of engineering and overall architecture of the early renaissance.
Florence Cathedral was officially consecrated in 1436, but the facade remains unfinished.
The current facade is crafted in the 19th century, and completed in 1887. The interior of Santa Maria del Fiore impresses with its brilliant murals, especially interesting is the huge clock. Its mechanism was developed back in 1443, and its hands work to date, with the difference that they move in the opposite direction to conventional clocks.