The Cathedral : Michelin's recommendations
The imposing Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the largest buildings in the Christian world: 155m long, 90m wide from one end of the transept to the other and 107m high from the floor to the top of the dome. The vertical and horizontal effects of the white, green and rose marble of the exterior enhances the apparent simplicity of the Latin-cross shape of the structure inspired by primitive basilicas: the main part is long with only two pentagonal side apses to relieve the austerity of the composition, in an unusual form of the Gothic style. Inside, the cathedral has three naves with only four bays, giving an impression of serene strength, leading to the octagonal sanctuary and altar, dominated by an imposing 15C, wooden crucifix by Benedetto da Maiano. Beyond the sanctuary, the nave radiates out to form three apses, separating the old and new sacristies, both decorated with a terracotta tympanum by Della Robia illustrating the Ascension and the Resurrection), respectively, each containing five chapels. Above the sanctuary rises the splendid dome by Brunelleschi (decorated with a fresco by Vasari, The Last Judgement), an ingenious masterpiece composed of a calotte of twenty-four ribs, linked by horizontal rings of masonry, reinforced by a self-supporting outer calotte faced with red bricks. The access to the dome is between the two calottes; there are 463 steps to the foot of the lantern turret where there is a magnificent panoramic view.
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