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The dome of the Cathedral, Florence, Italy. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

Brunelleschi’s Dome: the Dome of Florence

The largest masonry dome ever built by man

Brunelleschi’s famous dome forms the cover of the Florence Cathedral and is the largest brick dome built by man. In fact, the major diagonal of the internal dome measures 45.5 meters, while the external one is 54 meters. The impost, which rises 35.50 meters above the tambour, is about 54 meters from the ground, the weight of the dome is estimated at 37,000 tons. It is estimated that over four million bricks were used for the construction. The construction of the dome from an architectural point of view represents the event that marked the beginning of the Renaissance.

Consisting of two ogival caps connected to each other, the octagonal dome was started in the summer of 1420, and was completed (lantern excluded) in 1436, the lantern was positioned in 1461, while the golden copper ball with the cross was made by Andrea del Verrocchio, was placed there in 1471.

Brunelleschi's dome. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Frescoes in the dome of the Cathedral, Florence, Italy. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini


The dome was built without the use of ribs (wooden or iron structure) to support the masonry. To carry it out, Brunelleschi excogitated some extraordinary solutions to lighten the imposing structure, for the realization of the work Brunelleschi used innovative machines that he himself designed. Brunelleschi’s innovation was to turn the dome without armor, thanks to the use of a double vault with cavity. While the internal cavity (more than two meters thick) was made with herringbone ashlars, and had a structural function being self-supporting, finally the external one had only a roofing function.

The lower part of the dome by Brunelleschi is covered with frescoes painted by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari between 1572 and 1579, it is the largest fresco painted surface of the world (3600 square meters), the frescoes depict scenes of the Last Judgement.

Brunelleschi's dome. The dome of the Cathedral, Florence, Italy. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

The dome of the Cathedral, Florence, Italy. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

Brunelleschi’s dome, the dome of the cathedral of Florence is a monument open to the public, it is possible to climb the dome, see up close the architectural structures of Brunelleschi, the frescoes of the interior and at the end of 463 steps enjoy a spectacular view from the top of the city of Florence.


Address: Piazza del Duomo Firenze Tel: 055 2302885 E-mail: opera@operaduomo.firenze.it

Opening Hours: Weekdays, 8.30-19; Saturday, 8.30-17; first Saturday of the month, 8.30-15.20. Closed Sundays and holidays.

Price: 6,00 €

Handicap access: NO



About Marco Ramerini

Ho pubblicato alcuni scritti sulla storia dell'esplorazione geografica e del colonialismo, in particolare sulle isole delle spezie, le Molucche. Ho ideato alcuni siti internet tra cui il sito www.colonialvoyage.com dedicato alla storia dell'esplorazione geografica e al colonialismo. Poi il sito www.borghiditoscana.net dedicato alla mia regione: la Toscana. Oltre che a molti altri siti di viaggi in diverse lingue. Viaggiatore, scrittore di guide turistiche online, scrivo di storia, fotografo e sono appassionato di astronomia.