Santa Maria del Fiore is perhaps the most famous landmark of Florence and one of the most popular attractions of Italy along with the Duomo in Milan, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa and the Colosseum in Rome . In this article I will briefly talk about the Cathedral, show a photo, and also give tips on how to save time and not stand in lines.

The construction of one of the five most grandiose Cathedrals in the world began in the 13th century. Earlier in this place was another Cathedral of Santa Renata, which at that time was already over 900 years old and which was already beginning to collapse. It was decided that a new one should appear on the site of the collapsing temple, which will be larger, more beautiful and more magnificent than the Cathedrals of Siena and Pisa. It is worth saying that Florence did it.

Many architects worked on the construction of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, but in 1380 the main catch arose – none of the masters of that time knew how to build such a huge dome. Only 40 years later, the incredibly talented Brunelleschi was able to design and build a dome 90 meters high, which got his name. The Brunelleschi Dome we can admire to this day.


dome brunelleschi florence


As for the appearance of the Cathedral, it acquired a modern look only in 1887. The facade’s author, Emilio de Fabris, used marble of different colors in his work: pink from Maremma, green from Prato, and white (which shimmers in gray, green and pink) – from Carrara.


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Upon entering the Cathedral, I marveled at the modesty of the interior. Compared with external luxury, mosaic floors, stained-glass windows and frescoes of the 15th century, sculptures by famous Florentine masters look rather modest.


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An interesting exhibit of the Duomo is the 15th century clock, the hand of which moves in the opposite direction. This kind of watch is in the town hall in the Jewish quarter of Prague .


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By the way, Brunelleschi himself, as well as Giotto (architect of the bell tower) are buried in the Cathedral.


dome duomo florence how to rise

dome duomo florence how to rise
View of the dome when climbing to the observation deck

Duomo Tickets Online

Entrance to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is free, but at the entrance you need to defend a huge queue, on average 2-3 hours. How to save time:

  1. Arrive in advance at least 1 hour before opening. It turned out that I took the line at about 8:30 (the Cathedral opens at 9:30), I entered the Cathedral at about 10:00, i.e. spent in line about 1.5 hours.
  2. Buy a ticket with a guided tour. The duration of the tour is about 30 minutes, conducted in English. The tour itself is more a convention. Beginning at 10:00, 10:30 and 15:30. Ticket price 15 €. Considering saving 3 hours, I think it’s inexpensive. Buy a ticket to the Duomo >>> .
  3. Buy a comprehensive ticket to visit the dome, baptistery, bell tower and museum. Price from 18 € to 30 €. Details >>>

Santa Maria del Fiore Complex.

In addition to the Cathedral itself, the Santa Maria del Fiore complex includes: the Giotto’s bell tower, the baptistery and the Duomo Museum. I’ll tell you a little more about each of the objects.

Campanile di Giotto Campanile is a tall tower located about 20 meters from the Cathedral (to the right of the facade). The height of the tower is about 90 meters, the lower tier of the tower was designed by the architect Giotto, in whose honor it was named. Today, the tower is an example of Gothic architecture, and the observation deck is located on the tower itself, which you can climb to only overcome 414 steps (there is no elevator in the tower).


bell tower giotto florence

bell tower giotto florence
View of the bell tower from the dome
view of the brunelleschi dome
But this postcard view opens from the bell tower
giotto bell tower viewing
But keep in mind (this is not shown by bloggers :)))): you need to photograph through the grid!


Read also “TOP-5 observation platforms in Rome”


The Baptistery of John the Baptist is the oldest building on Cathedral Square. Its construction dates back to the 5th century A.D. Like all baptisteries, Batistero di San Giovani was intended for baptismal ceremonies, and until the 19th century was used for its intended purpose.


baptistery florence entrance
Inside the Baptistery


The modern appearance of the baptistery took in the 11-12th centuries. It was then that it was lined with marble. Of particular note are 3 pairs of baptistery gates. All of them are decorated with golden bas-reliefs and have a special meaning.

For 6 years, Andrea Pisano worked on the South Gate , who depicted on the gate scenes from the life of John the Baptist (20 upper panels) and the main virtues (8 lower panels).

The north gate for 23 years was at the disposal of Lorenzo Ghiberti . During this time, he covered them with bas-reliefs on the theme of the New Testament and the Gospel.

The most popular gate – East – is called the “Gate of Paradise . According to legend, this name was given to them by Michelangelo. The work on decorating the East Gate was also entrusted to Ghiberti and lasted about 27 years. All paintings on the East Gate are Old Testament illustrations.


gates of paradise florence


Inside the Baptistery is the tomb of one of the representatives of the Medici clan, as well as a wooden statue of Magdalene, by Donatello (15th century).

The Duomo Museum (Opera del Duomo), opened in 1891, is today the largest Catholic museum in the world.


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It contains the original statues from the facade of Santa Maria del Fiore. The building itself was built in the 13-14 centuries. and was used as the administration of the construction of the Cathedral.

The originals of the Gates of Paradise panels are also stored here.


gates of paradise duomo museum
Original Gate “Paradise Gate”


An interesting exhibit is the layout of the Brunelleschi dome.


Bruneleski dome layout
Brunnelleschi Dome Layout


The museum, in fact, is very large, 3 or 4 floors. In order to slowly and thoughtfully examine everything, it will take at least 1.5 hours. Keep in mind that you will have to hand in your backpacks and large bags (I had a laptop with me, I had to carry it in my hands), but they don’t accept large luggage (suitcases).

All of these attractions can be visited on a comprehensive ticket. More about this later.


See also “TOP 20 Florence Attractions”


How to climb the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.

If you like viewing platforms, then, if you have a ticket (you need to reserve time), you can climb the Dome of the Duomo. 463 steps lead to the top , there is no elevator to the dome, as well as to the bell tower.

How to buy a ticket for the Duomo Dome in Florence.

View of the Duomo when climbing the dome
Duomo dome lookout how to climb
Observation deck on the dome

It seems to me problematic to buy a ticket for going up to the day-to-day dome, because in addition to buying, you need to reserve the time to go up. A visit to the dome is included in the complex ticket (dome + crypt + museum + bell tower + baptistery), which is valid for 72 hours. To climb the dome, there are 3 options.

  1. A few days before the ascent (better for a week) buy a ticket on the official website and immediately book the time of ascent to the dome. The rise time can be selected from the existing one (rise is possible from 8:30 to 18:30). Ticket price 18 €. Buy a ticket >>>     Book a time to climb the dome >>>
  2. Buy a ticket through agents. In this case, there is a high probability of buying a ticket “for today” or “for tomorrow”. The entry time must be selected from the available: 9:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 16:30. The ticket is valid 72 hours from the moment of the first entrance and includes the entrance to the Cathedral without a queue , ascent to the dome, entrance to the crypt, baptistery, museum, bell tower. Ticket price 30 €. Buy a ticket online >>> As of May 2019, the entrance to the dome is not included in the ticket purchased through agents.
  3. Buy a ticket with a guided tour. In addition to everything listed in paragraph 2, the price includes a small tour in English . Entrance time is fixed at 10:30. Ticket price 34 €. Buy a ticket online >>>


See also “How to climb the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican”


Opening hours of the Santa Maria del Fiore complex

Cathedral : Monday-Wednesday, Friday: from 10:00 to 17:00, Saturday: from 10:00 to 16:45, Sunday: from 13:30 to 16:45.

Dome : Sunday – Friday: from 8:30 to 19:00, Saturday: from 8:30 to 16:40 (book in advance)

Museum : Monday – Saturday: from 9:00 to 19:00, Sunday: from 9:00 to 13:45, the first Tuesday of each month the museum is closed

Baptistery : Monday-Saturday: from 08:15 to 10:15 and from 11:15 to 19:30, Sunday: from 8:30 to 13:30

Belfry : 8:15 – 19:20

Official website:

As I planned the visit (it was just a few hours in Florence, because at 12:00 we got a car for our autotravel): 8:30 climb to the dome; 9:20 rise to the bell tower; 10:00 – Baptistery: 10: 05-10: 35 – Museum (again, for a normal inspection of the museum, lay about 1.5 hours)


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