Things to do in Florence

Discover Piazza del Duomo: Florence’s historic heart

Last Updated:

Piazza del Duomo, or Cathedral Square, has been the heart of Florence for centuries. Known by many names - Florence Cathedral, il Duomo di Firenze, Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, or simply il Duomo - this piazza features the city’s most famous landmark with its striking red brick dome.

But the piazza offers more than just the cathedral and the dome. You'll also find Giotto's Campanile, the bell tower, and the Baptistry of Saint John. Additionally, the Museo dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Crypt of Santa Reparata inside the cathedral are part of the cathedral complex.

In this blog, we’ll explore the various landmarks and attractions that make up Piazza del Duomo.

Duomo Florence Tickets


Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral

Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral

Officially named the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore), the Florence Cathedral’s its construction began in 1296 following a Gothic design by Arnolfo di Cambio and was completed in 1436 with the addition of the iconic dome by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the cathedral is adorned with panels of green, pink, and white marble, creating a striking polychrome effect. The elaborate façade you see today was designed in the 19th century by Emilio De Fabris in a Gothic Revival style.


Brunelleschi’s Dome

Brunelleschi’s Dome

While Brunelleschi’s Dome is part of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, it deserves a special mention due to its remarkable features. As the world’s largest brick-and-mortar dome, it also boasts the first-ever double-dome structure. One of the unique aspects of this dome is that you can climb to the top. This experience, an attraction in itself, involves ascending 463 steps. Along the way, you'll see graffiti left by visitors over the years, adding to the dome’s character. Climbing a dome might seem unusual, but this rare opportunity to scale one of the world's largest domes is something you shouldn’t miss!


Giotto's Bell Tower

Giotto's Bell Tower

Giotto's Bell Tower, or Campanile di Giotto, stands next to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Piazza del Duomo, Florence. Built by the renowned Renaissance artist and architect Giotto di Bondone in 1334, this free-standing bell tower is a key example of Italian Gothic architecture. Giotto's design was groundbreaking at the time, moving away from the traditional rounded bell towers. His innovative approach set a new standard, influencing many future architects and artists. You can climb the tower's 413 steps to enjoy stunning panoramic views of Florence and its surroundings. The climb is challenging, but it’s worth the effort!


Baptistery of St. John

Baptistery of St. John in Florence

The Florence Baptistery, or Baptistery of Saint John, is one of the oldest buildings in Florence, dating back to the 11th century. This historic religious site is renowned for its Romanesque architecture. The Baptistery features an unusual octagonal shape, inspired by the baptistery in Ravenna. Its exterior is made of white Carrara marble and adorned with intricate sculptures. Notably, the bronze doors by Andrea Pisano and Lorenzo Ghiberti, including the famous Gates of Paradise, are highlights.


The Gates of Paradise

Gates of Paradise

While the Gates of Paradise are part of the Baptistery of Saint John, they deserve special mention due to their iconic status. The Baptistery is famous for its three sets of bronze doors, each a masterpiece of Renaissance art. The most notable of these are the east doors, known as the Gates of Paradise, created by Lorenzo Ghiberti in the 15th century. These gates feature intricate scenes from the Old Testament. The north and south doors, created by Andrea Pisano and Ghiberti respectively, also showcase beautiful relief sculptures depicting various biblical scenes.


Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

The Duomo Museum, or Opera del Duomo, is home to some of the most famous artworks by renowned sculptors such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Ghiberti, and Brunelleschi. Located on the eastern side of Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy, the museum spans 6,000 square meters. The museum is divided into 28 rooms across three floors and houses over 750 pieces of art. It's a must-visit for anyone interested in the rich artistic heritage of Florence.


Loggia del Bigallo

Loggia del Bigallo

The Loggia del Bigallo is situated between Piazza San Giovanni and Via Calzaiuoli. Built in the 14th century by Alberto Arnoldi, this medieval building was originally a place where children waited for adoption. The structure is notable for its two arches, which feature beautiful paintings added between 1353 and 1358.


Crypt of Santa Reparata

Crypt of Santa Reparata

The Crypt of Santa Reparata is an underground chamber located beneath the Duomo Museum in Florence. It is believed to have been built on the site of an early Christian church, possibly dating back to the 5th century. The crypt serves as a significant burial site for Florentine bishops and other religious figures. Visiting the Crypt of Santa Reparata offers a unique glimpse into the enduring legacy of Christianity in Florence, providing a fascinating look at the city's rich history and culture.

Florence Duomo - Piazza del Duomo