Santa Maria del Fiore

This stunning cathedral took nearly 150 years to complete, and Brunelleschi's dome is today the most iconic feature of the Florentine skyline.

TravelCurious Tip

If you want to visit the dome, go at the end of the day. That way, you won’t have to squeeze past people coming up when you’re on your way down!

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, found in the Piazza del Duomo, rules the Florence skyline. First designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, it is third largest church in the world, after only St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. Its name means the Virgin of the Flower — an allusion to the lily, the symbol of the city of Florence.

Construction started in 1296 and took nigh on 150 years to finish. Numerous styles come together in this cathedral, indicating how tastes evolved over this period. Altogether, the cathedral complex includes the Baptistery, the octagonal minor basilica that is among the oldest buildings in Florence, and Giotto’s Campanile, the showpiece Gothic bell tower. All the buildings have the same, striking pink, white and green marble façade; together, they are are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Cherry on Top

Santa maria del Fiore’s famous dome, seen on every other Florence postcard, was designed in the 15th century by Brunelleschi. He took the innovative approach of vaulting the dome space without scaffolding, by using a double shell structure. The inner shell is the self-supporting element, while the outer dome serves a wind-resistant covering. Crowning the dome is a lantern, upon which there is a copper sphere and cross that contain holy relics.

You can scale the 463 steps to Brunelleschi’s dome for an unforgettable view of Florence. It also allows you to get a closer look at the frescos on the inner shell of the dome, painted by Giorgia Vasari and Federico Zuccari between 1572 and 1579.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Florence
The Baptistery of St John
Among the city’s oldest buildings (and certainly its most octagonal), the Baptistery is a superb example of Florentine Romanesque style.
Piazza del Duomo
Florence's 'Cathedral Square' is in the historic heart of the city and home to several of its most famous landmarks.
Palazzo Vecchio
The city’s magnificent town hall was first built in 1299, and has seen many different names and uses over its history.
Loggia dei Lanzi
Beloved since the 14th century for its superb arches, the Loggia is today an open-air museum of Renaissance sculpture.
Piazza della Signoria
Overlooked by the imposing Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi, this square is one of the city’s focal points.
Dante's Quarter
Italy’s most celebrated poet and a giant of world literature, the author of the Divine Comedy was a native Florentine.

Related Tours

Private Walking Tour of Michelangelo’s Florence inc Tickets to Galleria dell’ Accademia
This full-day tour of Florence's Renaissance artwork and architecture is a must for all culture vultures. 

  • Commence your tour at the Piazza del Duomo 
  • Pass the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistery of St John
  • Walk towards the antique Florentine Quarter 
  • Learn about Italy's political elite at the Palazzo Vecchio 
  • Pass the Uffizi Gallery, and cross over the Ponte Vecchio (medieval bridge)
  • Conclude your tour at the Galleria dell’ Accademia 
  • Learn about Renaissance artwork, and skip-the-line to see Michelangelo’s David
Discover the highlights of Florence and follow an expert and entertaining guide to the most significant places through the historical center and learn about the amazing history of the city from the time it was the capital of Renaissance to the time it became the capital of early unified Italy.

Start your experience touring the religious center of the city: admire the Duomo, whose impressive Dome was designed by Brunelleschi, and the Baptistery of Saint John, one of the oldest buildings in Florence.

From the religious center, you will walk to the political center, and enjoy a pleasant stroll through Piazza della Signoria, surrounded by its ancient buildings and the Loggia dei Lanzi. In this open air museum we will see original masterpieces by Giambologna and Cellini. From there, you'll cross the famous Ponte Vecchio, the medieval bridge on the Arno River, we will end this tour in the prestigious Accademia Gallery, where, at your own pace, we will explore stunning artwork, including Michelangelo's David.
The Beauty and Craft of Florence - Private Walking Tour inc Tickets
Explore the finest Renaissance architecture and experience authentic Italian leather on this 3-hour craft tour.

  • Commence your tour at the antique Florentine Quarter 
  • Pass by the much-celebrated Uffizi Gallery, home to much Renaissance art
  • Cross over the Ponte Vecchio, towards Palazzo Pitti
  • Enjoy a short stop at the Church of Santo Spirito
  • Visit the incredible Leather School of Florence 
  • Conclude at Mannina, a family-owned Florentine cobbler 
Antique Florentine Quarter
What better place to start than the antique Florentine Quarter where the talented Dante Alighieri used to live? You will pay a visit to Piazza Della Signoria, where you can not help but be captivated by the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia Dei Lanzi. Originally the seat of power for the ruling elite of the Republic of Florence, the Palazzo Vecchio is now the town hall and a symbol of the Tuscan capital. Built back in the 14th century, the charming Loggia dei Lanzi is a masterpiece of Florentine Renaissance architecture and now hosts remarkable Renaissance sculptures.

A short walk on and you will also pass the celebrated Uffizi Gallery, home to some wonderful creations by the Italian Renaissance greats of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and many others. The world-famous medieval bridge Ponte Vecchio is well worth a visit with its many quaint craft shops selling small souvenirs, lovely jewellery, and beautiful paintings. 

Renaissance Florence 

Your tour also includes a quick visit to the Church of Santo Spirito. Initially drafted by the immensely talented Brunelleschi; it was finally completed years after his death in the late 15th century. You will complete your journey with a short stroll around the Quarter of Santa Croce, taking its name from the scenic church of Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world.

Authentic Italian Craft

Visit the Leather School of Florence which was created after World War II by Franciscan friars of the Monastery of Santa Croce with the mission of teaching orphans of the war a practical trade with which to earn a living. You will also have the opportunity to visit Mannina, a family-owned Florentine cobbler that are still using traditional shoemaking techniques. 
Private Walking Tour of Florence By Night
The soft, golden sunset over Tuscan hills bathes Florence in an ethereal blush-shade halo, and the changing colours of the sky add an otherworldly beauty to the city.  On your Private Walking Tour of Florence by Night: 
  • See the Florentine skyline from a fresh perspective, lit by starlight and flickering lamps.
  • Admire the ecclesiastical splendour of the Baptistery of St. John and Florence Cathedral.
  • Soak up the magical twilight ambience gazing at the Palazzo Vecchio’s impressive Arnolfo Tower.
  • Watch the slow-moving silvery Arno River under a night sky from the Ponte Vecchio.
  • Sightsee illuminated historical buildings such as Casa Buonarroti and the Uffizi Gallery.  
  • Stroll a riddle of lamp-lit backstreets to see Torre della Castagna - one of the city's ancient towers lit against the dark of night. 
On your Private Tour of Florence By Night, soak up the night's eye view of the city, from Florence’s riddle of beguiling backstreets and hear the mysterious stories to the candle-lit mellow sounds of a Gregorian chant. At night the ecclesiastical splendour of octagonal Baptistery of St. John is magnificent, a quality shared by the illuminated gothic spires of Florence Cathedral and the Campanile di Giotto on the spectacular Piazza del Duomo. Soaring high above surrounding buildings in the city,  Arnolfo Tower gazes across centuries of history dating back to medieval times from the legacy of the illustrious Medici family to the famed artistic works by the world’s great masters, many of which celebrate the hues of sunset. Monuments city-wide, churches and Florence’s most striking facades are beautifully lit at twilight, providing a stark contrast to monochromatic pavements.  A diffused orange glow of street lamps brings fresh identity to the city, showcasing centuries-old palaces and neatly-paved plazas with extra magic - even Michelangelo's statue David in Piazza della Signoria shines after dark. 

 As the sky begins to darken, a play of moonlight bathes the Arno River in a white-silver glow. Framed by a silhouette of trees Florence’s rows of illuminated buildings dazzle under a sky of twinkling stars.  Pause on the Ponte Vecchio, the city’s oldest bridge, to watch as shimmering reflections cast their shadows, and wander onward to the handsome gilt and stucco of the Uffizi Gallery - illuminated in the otherwise still neighbourhood. Then see Florence’s predominant Franciscan church Chiesa Santa Croce, one of the largest in the world. Lastly,  stroll past Casa Buonarroti, once Michelangelo’s home and now a museum in his honour, opposite 13th century Torre della Castagna.  


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