The Great Cathedral Museum
The most important building is the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, or seat (cathedra) of the bishop of the Florentine Diocese. It was given Gothic lines by Arnolfo di Cambio as from 1296 and completed in 1434, with a marvellous renaissance dome by Filippo Brunelleschi. It is completely covered in marble of various colours. A visit of the Cathedral includes visiting the Crypt of Santa Reparata, which was re-discovered about a century ago and where one can discover the remains of three earlier basilicas. The famous Giotto Belfry stands to the right of the façade of the Duomo or Cathedral and bears the name of the artist who designed it in 1334, although its foundations had already been laid in 1298. Opposite the façade of the Duomo, stands the Baptistery of St. John the Baptist, a magnificent example of Romanesque architecture, with the inner vault of its dome covered with mosaics that were finished in the 13th century.
The completely renovated Museum of the Cathedral Works contains paintings, decorations, sculpture, gold and silver artefacts and illuminated manuscripts from the above-mentioned buildings. Among the most remarkable masterworks are Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Doors of Paradise, Luca della Robbia and Donatello’s choir lofts and Michelangelo’s Pietà or Deposition, with the artist’s self-portrait. A whole sector is dedicated to the construction of the dome.