We soon reached the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiori, commonly known as the Duomo. The more it came into sight the more we felt we would be looking at it for endless hours, despite the fact that the Baptistry was undergoing restoration.
I was utterly mesmerised. The highly decorated exterior of the Neo-Gothic Cathedral said to have started in the fourteenth century and only completed in 1887 was outstandingly beautiful. The exterior walls are in alternate vertical and horizontal bands of polychrome marble (white, green and red). The three huge bronze doors of the main portal dating from 1899 through to 1903 are adorned with scenes from the life of the Madona.
The mosaics in the lunettes above the doors represent Charity among the founders of Florentine philantropic institutions, Christ enthroned with Mary and John the Baptist and Florentine artisans, merchants and humanists.
The pediment above the central portal contains a half-relief of Mary enthroned holding a flowered sceptre, whilst on top of the facades the images of the twelve Apostles and the Madona with the child stood out.
A galery of busts of great Florentine artists could be seen between the rose window and the timpano.
The three apses house five chapels each and are crowned by a miniature copy of the Brunelleschi's dome of the Cathedral. As we walked around there were a few frescoes and several interesting panels, which I started photographing until I realised that nothing was uninteresting and I could be there forever.
The 85 metre Giotto's Campanille is said to be just 6 metre shorter than the Dome despite the fact that depending on the angle of observation it looked much higher.
We vowed to revisit it some other time, as we headed towards the hotel we had booked so as to leave our back packs.
(To be continued)