Table of contents:
- History of the Cathedral
- Medieval megalomania?
- Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore: architect
- Eminent successors
- Temple and city
Independent tourists arriving in Florence are strongly recommended by guidebooks to visit, in addition to Piazza Senoria, the Old Bridge and the Uffizi Palace, the most famous and recognizable attraction of this amazing Italian museum city - the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. You most likely have seen photos and images of this architectural masterpiece. And these pictures were often taken from the air, since the dense buildings around the temple do not allow finding the right angle to capture it in its entirety. But it will be much better than any photographs to see the cathedral with your own eyes - when the setting sun gently gilds the red dome or when the lights of spectacular illumination light up in the velvet Italian night. This is a church with a rich, interesting history and a kind of symbol. In the heart of Florence, the genius of the Titans of the Renaissance left its mark in stone.
History of the Cathedral
Plan forthe construction of the main city temple was adopted at the end of the thirteenth century. But it cannot be said that the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence was built from scratch. Here stood a small church of St. Reparata. And the most famous Florentine basilica is unique in that it began to be built when the previous structure had not yet been destroyed. Saint Reparata until the end of the thirteenth century was considered the patroness of the city. This is a semi-legendary character. A young virgin from Palestine was subjected to various sophisticated tortures by cruel Romans for her adherence to Christianity in the 3rd century. The church of St. Reparata was built around the sixth century. But also not in a vacuum. In ancient times, a pagan temple stood here. At the dawn of Christianity, a baptistery (a room for the baptism of neophytes) was built near it. It is known that there was a cemetery around the church. Many tombstones from the late antique period were transferred to the Temple Museum.
The first thing that strikes tourists coming to the Duomo - the cathedral - is its size. The baptistery and the campanile (bell tower) stand separately, although they are included in the architectural complex. But the building of the temple itself is truly amazing with its gigantic size. What is it, where does such gigantomania come from? To answer this question, we should remember when the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was built. Florence at the beginning of the XIII century experienced an economic boom and claimed primacy among urbanrepublics. Moreover, it dominated not only in Italy, but even throughout Western Europe. In order to demonstrate their leadership (primarily to their main rivals - Siena and Pisa), it was decided to build the largest cathedral at that time and the highest campanile. According to the plan, the temple was supposed to accommodate half of the population of the city commune, which at that time reached an unprecedented size - ninety thousand people. A building of this magnitude challenged the art of medieval architecture. He was received by Arnolfo di Cambio, the renowned architect who had already built the Palazzo Vecchio and the Church of the Holy Cross in Florence.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore: architect
The construction of the cathedral was a matter of prestige. The building had to be special. Therefore, the architect Arnolfo risked deviating from the Gothic canon, which ordered the construction of sacred structures in the form of a Latin cross. Thus, from above, these churches resembled the letter "T". The architect connected the Latin cross with the centric rotunda, which was supposed to be crowned with a dome. The three naves are separated by widely spaced pillars. From the rotunda there is a view of the altar and the chapels in the transept. Di Cambio did not get to see the incarnation of his offspring. He died in 1302, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the plan of which he cherished, turned into an abandoned building for a long time. The city simply did not have enough funds for an ambitious project. The way out of the financial crisis was found in 1330: miraculously in the churchThe relics of Saint Zenovius were "found" and a year later, work was resumed.
The powerful guild of wool merchants (Arte della Lana) became the patron of the "construction of the century". He did not hire anyone, but the famous artist and architect Giotto. But the master was too ambitious to implement the plan of his predecessor. And he began to build a campanile. When he died (1337), only its lower tier was built. And then the work again stopped for twelve years due to the Great Black Plague. In 1349, Francesco Talenti took over the baton of the chief architect, who still managed to complete the bell tower. In 1359, the construction was headed by Giovanni di Lapo Ghini. Then other times came. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence has changed many architects. And they were all "with a name." We know such masters as Giovanni d'Ambrogio, but also Alberto Arnoldi, and Neri di Fioravante, and Andrea Orcagna … By 1375, the old church of St. Reparata was finally dismantled, and in 1380 the main nave was completed. But the facade of the building was completed… only in the nineteenth century.
As already mentioned, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was built so that all other similar Gothic structures were no match for him. Indeed, the main church of Florence is only five meters in length inferior to the famous Milanese El Duomo (153 versus 158 m). According to the plan of the architect di Cambio, the rotunda was to be crowned with a dome. Butthe cathedral had such a huge pedestal that no one dared to start work on its creation for a long time. And only in 1420 the great architect Brunelleschi undertook a difficult task. He proposed a plan for an octagonal brick dome to the city council. This Gothic form of the vault was to be crowned with a decorative lantern. The work was complicated by the high height and the fact that the scaffolding did not stand on the ground, but was attached to the vertical walls of the cathedral. The result, 15 years later, was a light, soaring dome 42 meters high, which now defines the characteristic silhouette of Florence.
It makes an ambiguous impression on an unprepared tourist - this Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Photos of the temple often convey its rich exterior decoration. However, the interior, probably compared to the architecture of the façade, seems sparse. This was noted back in the seventeenth century by a Russian traveler - a certain P. A. Tolstoy. He writes that "the church is very large and made fairly and marvelously," but inside "there is no dressing." It is also possible that such an impression was created from the contrast with Orthodox churches. Yes, and modern tourists note that the church resembles a skillfully made box, which turns out to be empty inside. Art critics also notice that the external decoration of the cathedral was subject to the canons of late Italian Gothic. The interior became the arena of the most daring creative experiments of the masters of the Renaissance. The floor of the temple is entirely made of marble. The main altar is made of alabaster anddecorated with carvings. Craftsmen used different types of marble (green, white and pink) to achieve a natural play of light. The luminaries of the Renaissance also created magnificent stained-glass windows.
Using the fact that there was no clear canon in the construction of bell towers, Giotto fully revealed his talent as a master. He proposed to the city council a twenty-meter rectangular tower, reinforced with side buttresses. The facades gave the impression of openwork thanks to double window openings. In addition, all the walls of the bell tower are generously decorated with multicolored inlays and sculptures. And although the great master died at the very beginning of the work, other masters clearly adhered to his plans and drawings. As a result, the "Giotto Campanile" is known in the world no less than the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore itself, of which it is included.
It is known that the baptismal already existed in 897, even before the construction of the Church of St. Reparata. Then the baptistery stood apart from the prayer temples, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is no exception. The baptismal acquired its modern look gradually. Built in 1059, the walls were lined with multi-colored marble a century later. The arch in the form of a tent was erected in the XII century. The Renaissance gave the baptistery three bronze doors and marble sculptures above them. Moreover, the best sculptors of Tuscany competed for the honor of decorating the Florentine baptismal. The structure gives the false impression of a three-story building, although in reality there are only twolevel. The reason for this optical illusion is the external wall cladding with marble.
Temple and city
Not only for its size and architectural masterpieces, but also for its history, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is remarkable. Florence, with its centuries-old history, is closely connected with its main temple. Many great historical events took place within its walls. Here Savonarola delivered his sermons on repentance. In this temple, the brother of the ruler of Florence, Lorenzo the Magnificent, Giuliano Medici, was killed. And in the crypt of the cathedral, Giotto, the author of the campanile, and Brunelleschi, the creator of the dome, found peace.