Florence Cathedral

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View of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore from the south
West facade of the cathedral
The cathedral at night
Rose window

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore ( Italian: Cattedrale metropolitana di Santa Maria del Fiore ) in Florence is the episcopal church of the Archdiocese of Florence and therefore the Metropolitan Church of the ecclesiastical province of Florence . It was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV on March 24, 1436 and bears the title of a " minor basilica ". The nave can accommodate around 30,000 people. Its huge dome, Brunelleschi's main work , is considered a technical masterpiece of the early Renaissance .


Based on the length of the nave , the Florentine Cathedral is the fourth largest church in Europe after St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican , St Paul's Cathedral in London and the Milan Cathedral (after the built-up area, however, the Cathedral of Seville in Spain ranks third) . Its dimensions: 153 m length, 38 m width, width of the dome foundation 90 m. The side aisles have a vaulted height of 23 m, the central nave is about a dozen meters higher. The clear height of the dome is 90 m from the floor to the lantern. Outside, the dome with a lantern is more than 114 m high.

Building history

Floor plan at different times

Until the 13th century, the residents of the city had enough to represent the baptistery of San Giovanni and a few small churches. It was not until 1296 that it was decided to build a cathedral according to plans by Arnolfo di Cambio . The building should have dimensions that Tuscany had never seen before. The decision did not come from a religious impulse, but from the desire for a monument that could be seen from afar, not least in competition with Venice , Pisa and the construction of the cathedral in Siena, which began in 1229 .

start of building

In the same year, work began on the west facade. The original bishop's church, Santa Reparata , was initially surrounded by the new building and continued to be used for liturgical purposes. After Arnolfo's death, work came to a standstill, as the resources were used to build the third city wall and to build the Palazzo Vecchio . According to Arnolfo's designs, only the lower part of the facade had been completed by then.

Giotto's campanile

Campanile di Giotto

Only the later appointment of Giotto brought new impulses. But Giotto, already 68 years old, focused all his energy on the campanile , which had to be completed in less time. So at least he wanted to give Florence a landmark with the Campanile.

The tower foundations had already been laid in 1298 at the start of construction work on the new cathedral under Arnolfo di Cambio. The position of the bell tower, which is unusual for the Italian Gothic - in line with the west facade - is on the one hand taken as an indication of the special emphasis on the vertical as the center of the "Episcopal Island", on the other hand the line of sight to the planned large dome was kept free.

Giotto di Bondone designed a campanile that would have had a pyramidal top with a height of 50 Florentine braccia (arm lengths), that is about 30 meters; altogether it would have been 110-115 meters high. When Giotto's death in 1337, only the first floor was completed. Andrea Pisano and Francesco Talenti finished the construction in 1359 with a few changes. The tower got a low pyramid roof and was only 85 m high.

A total of twelve church bells are housed in the tower . A bell is placed on the floor of the bell floor. It is the apostolica that weighed 2500 kilograms and was cast by Lodovico di Guglielmo in 1516 . In addition, four smaller bells ( Beona , Maria Anna , Campana Piccola , Campana Più Piccola ) hang on all four sides, between the bell room and the window , which cannot be rung. The remaining seven bells form the main bell, which has had a new electric bell drive since 2000/2001.

No. Surname Casting year Caster diameter Weight Nominal
1 Campanone / Santa Reparata 1705 Antonio Petri 2000 mm 5000 kg a 0
2 Misericordia 1830 Carlo Moreni 1500 mm 2500 kg c 1
3 Apostolica 1956/57 Prospero
1450 mm 1800 kg d 1
4th Assunta 1270 mm 0846 kg e 1
5 Mater Dei 1160 mm 0481 kg g 1
6th Annunziata 0950 mm 0339 kg a 1
7th Immacolata 0750 mm 0237 kg h 1

Construction work on the cathedral resumes

From 1330 the wool weavers' guild took responsibility for building the cathedral. New builders modified the plans again and again until they were approved in 1368 and the brick model (1:10 scale) made afterwards was declared binding. The construction could now proceed faster. The nave was already in use for church services in 1379.


Main portal
Mosaic over the main portal

The facade begun under Arnolfo di Cambio was felt to be out of date as early as 1588 and was torn down to make room for a new facade design, for which the funds were then insufficient. The current west facade is a neo-Gothic completion of the late 19th century, which continues the style of the nave, the design in three-tone marble. It was completed by 1887 according to designs by Emilio de Fabris and Guglielmo Calderini (upper floor).

Works of art in the interior of the cathedral

inner space

On the left, north wall of the church there are two very similar-looking paintings of horsemen. The right “Monument to Giovanni Acuto” in bichrome marble imitation was made by Paolo Uccello (1400–1475) in 1436 and shows the mercenary leader Giovanni Acuto (actually John Hawkwood ), an Englishman in the service of Florence. The fact that he was immortalized here in the cathedral shows the importance such military leaders could have in the 15th century.

Some imbalances in perspective are striking. Corresponding to the strong soffit of the base, the horse and rider should be painted with a stronger soffit. They probably were originally too, but the Florentines didn't like that; here the artist was way ahead of his time. In 1436 Uccello re-painted the horse and rider directly from the side, without paying attention to perspective.

To the left of this is a fresco by Andrea del Castagno (1423 to 1457): The “Monument to Niccolò da Tolentina”, another mounted mercenary, painted in 1456. Its schematic structure largely refers to Uccello. Here a similar development takes place as in the doors of the baptistery between Pisano and Ghiberti . In 1436 Uccello painted a statuary calm similar to Pisano, Castagno 20 years later the movement as in Ghiberti's.


Today's organ was manufactured from 1961 by the organ builder Vincenzo Mascioni (Cuvio, Varese). The instrument has an electric action and 128 registers (7551 pipes) after extensions. Three console tables allow the five independent organ works to be played: the choir works (Organo Corale) are in the octagon, and the swell works (Organo Espressivo) are in the Cappella della Madonna della Neve. The main work (Grand'Organo) and another swell work (Recitativo) are located in the singing gallery. Another work (Positivo) is in the church and can be moved. The disposition is late romantic.


Brunelleschi's dome

In 1417 Brunelleschi presented his first model of the dome, after it had previously been decided to create an even more magnificent and larger dome than the first model had envisaged. The construction of the 107-meter-high dome with a diameter of 45 meters took 16 years (1418 to 1434). From the beginning, the two-shell construction was self-supporting and was erected without any falsework . Due to its uniqueness, it is still seen today as the height of the Renaissance . After the completion of the dome, the cathedral was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV on March 25, 1436 in the presence of Donatello , Brunelleschi , Ghiberti , Michelozzo and Alberti . In 1436, the glass painter Francesco Livi from Lübeck was appointed to Florence to make the stained glass windows . The lantern was built from 1446 to 1461 according to a design by Brunelleschi, most recently under the supervision of Michelozzo. Until the end of the 16th century, there was always minor work on the cathedral.

Painting the dome

View into the fresco of the dome

The unanimous opinion of art historians earlier had failed to paint the inside of the dome. No less a person than Giorgio Vasari , the father of art historiography and the creator of the corridor of the same name over the Ponte Vecchio, began this fresco in 1572, which was completed by Federico Zuccari in 1579 . It is huge in its dimensions and is considered to be the largest cycle of frescoes on a Christian theme after its surface area. Hundreds of colossal figures are grouped on a total of 4000 m² around the world judge, who can be seen with difficulty in the lower center. Vasari's dream is said to have been to surpass Michelangelo's “Last Judgment” in the Sistine Chapel .

The gigantic work is not without its problems. Because it is so far from the ground that you can hardly see a detail sufficiently - the dome room is usually darker than in the photos - and above all: Vasari's fresco does not make the dome appear higher, but lower. The dome fresco has been restored since 1979 and was unveiled again in 1994, with the two art historians Cristina Acidini and Cristina Danti documenting previously unrecognized artistic qualities.

Vasari was already ill when he climbed the scaffolding to paint the dome in 1572 at the age of 61 and died two years later in 1574 long before the fresco was completed. Federico Zuccari overpainted and partially modernized Vasari's painting. He made some mistakes in the process. For example, a donkey got the massive legs of a bear, which in turn was equipped with hooves, but this is not visible from the floor of the cathedral.

Individual aspects of the Florentine dome construction


The dome of the cathedral of Florence is not the crowning of the crossing of a Latin cross, that is, a crossing of nave and transept, but a three-conch complex , thus a central building , "the first of the Renaissance". At least it was said in the specialist literature for so long. But this central building is a Gothic idea and its implementation was achieved with Gothic means. It is better to say: this Gothic plan met the tendencies of the Renaissance.

The admiration for the ancient Roman pantheon and the architectural tradition had combined to make the dome the ideal and central part of the church. It seems that even in those cases in which it was not possible to carry out a central building because - as here at the Florentine Cathedral - a nave was already provided, at least the illusion of a central building with the dome as the most important component was the replacement in the east building want to procure.

There was a fundamental difficulty in the Renaissance in combining the central building ideal with purely liturgical requirements. If a central building got a dome, it couldn't get too big because the construction of the dome was the most difficult of all. Therefore, the ideal of a purely central building was mostly fulfilled in smaller churches.

In large churches, however, many people should also come together, and that contradicted the technical limits of the central building. Therefore, compromises were often made by adding a long house to a central building-like eastern section. Now many believers could be brought together in the interior, but it was not an ideal central building, as you can see from the floor plan.

These disputes were particularly dramatic later during the construction of St. Peter's in Rome. Here, too, the political effect of such an important building ultimately triumphed over Michelangelo's architectural ideal . And politics also play a role here in Florence.

The dome as the carrier of the state idea

Statue of Filippo Brunelleschi looking up at the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. The sculpture by Luigi Pampaloni was created around 1838

Architecture in the Italian city-states has always been destined to carry the ideas of the state. And the dome of the Florentine Cathedral here was the clearly visible expression of a new claim to power by a city that, with 50,000 inhabitants, had as many inhabitants as London. Brunelleschi elevated the dome to a new form of pathos - and this is evident right up to the Capitol in Washington in 1857. In the Middle Ages, the tower or group of towers was the highest architectural symbol of urban majesty. Now in the modern era, in the Renaissance, the dome became the symbol of state power.

It certainly also plays a role here that at that time Florence was far less equipped with works of art than its Italian competitors. Oddly enough, after the times of the Proto-Renaissance in the 11th century, there was a long pause in the development of art. Only in 1246 with the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella opened a new period in the city's art history.

In the whole of the 12th century and in the early 13th century, when the cathedral was already being expanded in Pisa, the campanile, the baptistery and the camposanto were built, as was the case in Lucca, Pistoia, Prato and later also in Arezzo and Siena Built cathedrals and churches, no building of the same rank was built in Florence. While Pisa and Lucca developed into centers of sculpture and painting, there is hardly a sculpture or painting for Florence. During this break, which lasted almost 150 years, Florence instead created the economic and political prerequisites for its later supremacy, which was then to receive a new, majestic expression through the construction of the cathedral and above all through the dominating dome. So: the dome of the cathedral was literally of paramount importance for Florence. A long artistic deficit had to be jumped over in one fell swoop. Florence had “no choice”, as it were. The dome had to succeed.

The interesting thing is that Arnolfo di Cambio , who began construction in 1296 , may have planned such a dome. This idea was certainly inspired by the baptistery and the gigantic domed buildings of Roman antiquity, especially here by the Pantheon in Rome and by the Hagia Sophia in Byzantium. The dome of the Pisan Cathedral and that of the Cathedral of Siena , a city with which Florence was in particular competition, can be assumed as a further model . But the connection of this idea of ​​such a gigantic dome with a Gothic nave was new.

The problems of a domed structure

Dome of the cathedral from the campanile

The plan for a huge dome was also predominant in 1367 when, after a long interruption in construction, a commission of builders and painters self-confidently increased the extension of the crossing to 42 meters and envisaged a vaulted height of 83 meters for the dome that was still to be built. This should make the Florentine dome not only the widest, but also the tallest dome ever built. One had certainly the Pantheon in Rome in mind, with a dome diameter of 42.70 meters, almost identical to the Florentine plans.

The difficulties resulting from these enormous proportions were only recognized later. Because no one knew how to build such a huge vault 42 meters in diameter over the octagonal floor plan. For example, it turned out to be impossible to get the scaffolding beams needed to build such a vault. Because before - 1410-1413 - they had the bold idea of ​​adding a drum floor, almost ten meters high and 4½ meters thick , to the 42 meter high octagonal floor , so that the dome only began at the incredible height of 52 meters, at a height that was above the highest vaults of the French Gothic cathedrals - the cathedral of Beauvais has the highest Gothic vault at 48 meters.

Incidentally, the church was only now given its current name “Santa Maria del Fiore”. Until then it was called Santa Reparata like the previous church.

And so that no one had the idea of ​​abandoning this new, bold plan from 1367 in favor of older, simpler solutions and thus reducing Florence's new claim to power, all older documents that dealt with the construction of the cathedral were destroyed. So you have, as it were, broken off all bridges behind you. Either this new dome with an unprecedented height - or none at all. It is therefore not sufficiently known how Arnolfo di Cambio and his early successors actually imagined the cathedral.

The competitive situation

At that time, in the second half of the 14th century, there was fierce competition between the large northern Italian cities with regard to their large central church buildings. In Florence, over eight percent of the total state income was spent on building the cathedral. From 1331 the woolen cloth guild was responsible for the construction project.

In 1388, the Cathedral of San Petronio was started in Bologna , which was supposed to surpass the Florentine Cathedral, which was under construction, but was never completed. Two years earlier, in 1386, the Milan Cathedral had been started, which was to surpass not only the Italian, but all cathedrals of the West - but without large towers and without a dome. The dome vault was the big problem and it remained so until our time, hence its great importance for representation. This idea still had an impact in the Nikolaikirche in Potsdam in the middle of the 19th century, in the Washington Capitol in 1857 and in the great power fantasies of the Nazi architect Albert Speer for the New Berlin of the 1940s.

In 1414 construction in Florence came to a standstill again. As the last link for the time being, the ten meter high octagonal drum with its round light openings 3.5 meters in diameter was built. The octagonal base as a support for the roof structure was given.

The competition

The problem was solved through a competition in 1418. A competition was announced on August 19th, which Brunelleschi won with a rough draft after various opposition.

Brunelleschi's revolutionary idea was not to let the scaffolding sit on the ground at all, but to anchor it as a climbing frame within the dome that was still to be built. The expert committee initially rejected his proposal several times. Brunelleschi insisted on his plan, sometimes so persistently that he had to be carried out of the meetings of the expert committee several times. In addition, Brunelleschi had not been apprenticed to a builder, but to a goldsmith, so he did not belong to the guild of stonemasons, but to that of the silk weavers who had joined forces with the goldsmiths.

It was not until the city found no viable alternative to Brunelleschi's plan that they accepted his idea. After accepting his rough draft, Brunelleschi was asked to work out a detailed plan. He was given the construction management, but as an inexperienced builder he was initially - as a precaution - placed at his side with Lorenzo Ghiberti , which annoyed him very much. Neither of them got along very well, after Brunelleschi was defeated by Ghiberti in 1401 in the competition for the reliefs of the Baptistery doors. Nevertheless, they worked together on the dome of the Florentine Cathedral for 18 years, initially with the same salary. In order to expose Ghiberti's incompetence, Brunelleschi is said to have fabricated an illness that caused the construction work to stall.

The construction of the dome begins

Construction of the dome began on August 7, 1420 at a height of 52 meters. In the same year Brunelleschi came up with another brilliant idea. He adopted a construction principle from Northern European Gothic, the rib vault. He laid ribs at each corner of the octagon and two additional ribs inside each vault cap, i.e. a total of 24, which were connected to one another by horizontal crossbars. The outer ones are the eight large marble ribs that can be seen from afar: 4.4 meters thick, 3.5 meters wide. Each of the eight segments of the dome shell is 17 meters wide, 3.50 meters thick and fully layered from solid limestone at its base.

The dome

With a total of 24 ribs, a skeletal system was created that was reinforced with two brick shells, one inner and one outer. The brick shells were walled up in individual rings from bottom to top; the dome was erected without any falsework. The hole in the ceiling was first left open as in the Pantheon in Rome . Later the lantern was put on.

To get an idea of ​​the dimensions of the wood we were talking about: For the hemisphere of the southern apse, which was constructed with such a falsework, 32 tree trunks were required in 1418, in boards with a total length of 280 meters and 135 Beams were sawn. However, this hemisphere was tiny compared to the main dome, the “Cupolone”, which, according to an estimate, would have required twenty times as much wood.

These were unimaginable and unaffordable dimensions, and the technical feasibility was also questionable. Brunelleschi, who knew his way around ancient architecture, took up the old idea of ​​double-skin and invented completely new techniques for the individual work steps.

Stone pull rings

A double-shell dome construction corresponded to the ancient tradition. The baptistery also has such a double shell to some extent. The idea comes from medieval Persia and was the typical feature of Islamic mosques. Despite the double-shell construction, structural difficulties remained.

The dome had to be additionally supported - also as a rib construction - just like in the Gothic architecture of Northern Europe, where this idea came from. But in Italy, apart from the Milan Cathedral, there is no external, supporting buttress like in France or Germany. The huge dome in Florence cannot be supported laterally because it is enthroned too high. In order to neutralize the horizontal thrust of the vault and only introduce vertical forces into the drum walls, Brunelleschi invented “a system of so-called stone chains to hold the two vault shells together. They start at the ribs and are connected by metal clips so that they can absorb tension. Without it, the ribs would be pushed outwards under the load of the rock and would burst.

Does the dome belong to the Gothic or the Renaissance?

The dome construction had lasting consequences for the architecture of the entire Renaissance. That is why art history put the beginning of the Renaissance on this dome building for a long time from 1420 to 1436.

There are, however, some objections to this view. The dome was undoubtedly a masterpiece that has not been surpassed by anyone, not even by Michelangelo later on St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. But in this case Brunelleschi was primarily required as an engineer to build the crossing dome that had already been specified in the planning. “Significantly, the whole work has an ogival, Gothic profile, because it is built according to the Gothic principle of supporting ribs. Even if Brunelleschi studied the dome of the Pantheon in order to perfect his technique, the two works have nothing in common: the dome of the Pantheon is a real hemisphere, […] supported by the huge walls. [...] The Florentine dome is a gigantic pointed arched vault that is camouflaged as a dome. Brunelleschi's style appears only in the subordinate structural elements - and thus Renaissance art. ”The motif of the chapel wreath that surrounds the crossing also comes from Northern European architecture, so it is Gothic (or even Romanesque) and not Renaissance.

The first real Renaissance building by Brunelleschi is the nearby church of San Lorenzo .

Incidentally, it is probably not the case that Brunelleschi was clear about all the details of the construction from the start. He only came up with many ideas during the 16-year construction period. And the later upper part of the dome was the more difficult one, because the arching is much stronger here. However, we are not exactly informed about Brunelleschi's plans and fantasies because he was very silent in this regard. He was terrified that others would steal his ideas - at that time there was no patent law. And that's why he only informed his next employees about his plans - and only late. Brunelleschi grew up within sight of the cathedral, knew from an early age the problems his predecessors had with the arching, spent years studying ancient architecture in Rome and certainly had various plans in mind as to how such a dome should be constructed. But he knew he was the only one who could do that and kept his knowledge to himself as much as possible. When he made plans for himself, he used his own cipher that no one else could read.

"Iron chain"

For example, there have been rumors about an iron chain that Brunelleschi allegedly placed around the base of the dome in addition to the well-known stone chains. Magnetic research conducted in the 1970s found no evidence that these chains actually exist.

Wooden chain

But what is really there besides the four stone chains is a wooden chain added in 1424 7½ meters above the lowest stone chain - consisting of chestnut beams six meters long and 30 × 30 centimeters in cross-section. This wood had to be found and carefully processed using a special process, which took several years. The fact that people thought of wooden chains as well as stone has to do with the fact that such a wooden structure was believed to be more resistant to earthquakes. This was the procedure for the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and for some other buildings in the endangered areas, for example in Persia. In fact, the cupola suffered no damage in the earthquakes of 1510, 1675 and 1895. Incidentally, the wooden chain had to be replaced in the 18th century because the wood began to rot.

Construction machinery

Brunelleschi's brilliant achievements also include the machines that he designed to use them to pull the stones up. Constructions were necessary here that did not exist at the time. The material elevators and cranes that Filippo designed became the most admired mechanical devices of the Renaissance. The rope for the freight elevator was ordered in Pisa, a stronghold of shipbuilding. But the experts there were also faced with a new task, because they needed the longest and heaviest rope that had ever been made: 180 meters long, more than seven centimeters thick and weighing almost half a ton. This elevator lifted the stones about 50 times a day, i.e. about one load every ten minutes.

Before the individual stones were used in the dome, they naturally had to be cut carefully. The templates for this were made on a plot of land that Brunelleschi had prepared in the summer of 1420 on a bank area of ​​the Arno on an area of ​​800 m². A plan of the dome was scratched into the sand at a ratio of 1: 1. The same approach had been adopted for the Gothic cathedrals of Northern Europe. These templates, over 2½ meters in size, were then attached to the masonry of the inner dome shell and served as a guide.


When making the bricks, templates were also used, as not only uniform dimensions were used, but also unusual - triangular shapes, bricks with teeth or with a protruding edge, bricks that fit exactly into the corners, etc. But until it was so was far, had to come a long way.

The kilns were not in the city, but in the countryside near the clay pits. It was of course a different matter whether brick was needed for a small house that could easily be replaced if necessary, or brick for the giant dome of Florence, where a small mistake could have massive consequences. In any case, there were extensive rules on how and where and when the clay should be extracted, how long it should dry before firing - this could take up to two years - how the mortar should be made, etc.

In short, the kneaded mortar came into the wooden molds and was pre-hardened. Then the last step was burning, which lasted several days. But because the temperature in the furnace was 1000 degrees Celsius, the brick makers had to wait two weeks for the bricks to cool down enough to be transported to the construction site. A kiln could hold an average of 20,000 bricks; if it was fired every three weeks, this resulted in an annual capacity of more than 300,000 bricks. But even with this enormous achievement, it would have taken more than 13 years with just one kiln to produce the four million bricks required to build the dome.

The speed of the eight mason teams was limited to less than one ring per week by the setting of the mortar in the last bricked horizontal ring. The dome grew by about 30 centimeters every month.

Despite all these extremely difficult working conditions, only one worker was killed during the 16-year construction period of the dome.


At the beginning of the dome, an attempt was made in 1508-12 to attach a loggia that would have loosened up the entire eastern building and that was also part of Brunelleschi's plan. But its design is too delicate and - according to tradition - Michelangelo is said to have expressed himself very disparagingly about this idea - "it looks like a cricket cage" - which is why the plan was not completed.


The dome alone weighs around 37,000 tons and has held up to this day, despite the 1,500 hairline cracks that have now appeared. The phenomenon of cracks is not in itself new. It is said that such cracks appeared as early as 1500, shortly after the building was completed. Now the cracks seem to be so numerous that one is considering taking steps to remove them.

It is not known how Brunelleschi himself saw this problem, because he did not leave any notes. When constructing the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Michelangelo provided a heavy iron chain around its base. The reason for the cracks that are now increasingly appearing in Florence is given by the technical side as the normal temperature fluctuations that would have slowly adversely affected the masonry over the centuries. A solution to the problem is apparently not yet in sight, despite numerous commissions, the first of which had already started in 1934. The dome is currently monitored by constant deformation monitoring in order to be able to understand the smallest changes immediately.

On the other hand, the following applies: "Since such tensions usually already occur when the vault is stripped and provoke the first cracks, the cracked state is to be regarded as normal and the respective crack pattern in the vault is a sign of ultimately individual statics."

Stair system

Brunelleschi built the dome on a high drum in the two shells mentioned, the inner shell being the thicker one. The outer one is only used for roofing. Between the two shells is a system of stairs that can be accessed via 463 steps and leads to the lantern at the top of the dome at a height of 106 meters.

Aftermath of the Florentine domed structure

This huge church building, the concept of which was laid down in 1367, was intended to be an expression of the pride of a city that had acquired an extraordinary degree of power and wealth at that time. At the end of the 13th century, Florence was one of the largest cities in the world with around 100,000 inhabitants.

The double-skinned dome of St. Peter's Basilica (1590) with a diameter of 42.3 meters, the largest self-supporting brick structure in the world, and the Pantheon (118) with the largest dome cast in unreinforced concrete , both in Rome, are of comparable size . A larger diameter had with only 108 meters to the World Expo 1873 built rotunda in Vienna from steel , the 1937 one was destroyed by fire.

Organ system

Arrangement of the two organs in an octagon
View of the organ on the left singing gallery

The organ system has been built by the Mascioni organ building company since 1961 . The instrument was initially divided into two locations (choir, “Madonna della Neve” chapel), but was gradually expanded (especially in 1968 and 1991) and equipped with electric action.

The organ system in the cathedral today consists of a total of six manual works and (corresponding) pedal (works). It has 107 registers (6761 pipes), including 33 transmitted or extended registers. The system basically consists of several independent partial organs and dependent organ works, all of which can be played from a mobile four-manual general console: the organ in the chapel "Madonna della Neve" (28 registers), a mobile positive choir (9 registers) , and the core of the organ in the choir and octagon (70 registers).

Chapel organ

There is an independent instrument in the “Madonna della Neve” chapel. It has 28 stops on two manuals and a pedal . The Kapellen organ has its own (two-manual) console and can be played from the general console, with the two manual works being controlled as a “solo work” from one (the fourth) manual as the “complete work”.

I main work
1. Principals 16 ′
2. Principals 8th'
3. Flauto 8th'
4th Ottava 4 ′
5. Flauto 4 ′
6th Sesquialtera II
7th Decimaquinta 2 ′
8th. Ripieno VI
9. Tromba 8th'
II swell
10. Principals 8th'
11. Bordone 8th'
12. Ottava 4 ′
13. Flauto 4 ′
14th Nazardo 2 23
15th Silvestre 2 ′
16. Ripieno V
17th Fagotto 8th'
18th Clarinetto 8th'
Pedal mechanism
19th Basso 16 ′
20th Subbasso 16 ′
21st Basso dolce 8th'
22nd Bordone 8th'
23. Ottava 4 ′
24. Flauto 4 ′
25th Cornetto III
26th Tromba (from No. 9) 16 ′
27. Tromba (= No. 9) 8th'
28. Tromba (from No. 9) 4 ′

Organ works in the cathedral

In the cathedral itself there are three organ works, spread over three locations. These are in each case dependent sub-works, each of which is assigned an independent pedal unit. In the choir room there is an invisible (swellable) chorale work, the “Corale espressivo”, behind a choir curtain on the right. The main work ("Grand'Organo") and the swell work ("Organo Espressivo") are located on the singers' stands in the octagon. These three works can be controlled from a three-manual console located in the choir.

I Corale espressivo
Manual work
1. Principals 8th'
2. Flauto stoppo 8th'
3. Ottava 4 ′
4th Flauto camino 4 ′
5. Ottavina 2 ′
6th Quintina 1 13
7th Ripieno III
8th. Ripieno IV
Pedal mechanism
9. Bordone 16 ′
10. Bordone 8th'
II Grand'Organo
Manual work
1. Principals 16 ′
2. Principals 8th'
3. Corno camoscio 8th'
4th Flauto 8th'
5. Ottava 4 ′
6th Flauto 4 ′
7th Duodecima 2 23
8th. Decimaquinta 2 ′
9. Decimanona 1 13
10. Ripieno VI
11. Ripieno VI
12. Cornetto V
13. Tromba 16 ′
14th Tromba 8th'
15th Tromba 4 ′
16. Voce umana 8th'
17th Tuba mirabilis 8th'
18th Tuba mirabilis 4 ′
19th Campane
Pedal mechanism
20th Basso Acustico 32 ′
21st Contrabbasso 16 ′
22nd Principals (= No. 1) 16 ′
23. Quinta 10 23
24. Basso 8th'
25th Principale (= No. 2) 8th'
26th Ottava (= No. 5) 4 ′
27. Superottava 2 ′
28. Ripieno VI (= No. 10)
29 Bombarda 16 ′
30th Tromba (= No. 13) 16 ′
31. Trombones 8th'
32. Tromba (= No. 14) 8th'
33. Clarone 4 ′
34. Tuba mirabilis (= No. 17) 8th'
35. Tuba mirabilis (= No. 18) 4 ′
36. Campane (= No. 19)
III Organo Espressivo
Manual work
1. Bordone 16 ′
2. diapason 8th'
3. Bordone 8th'
4th Gamba 8th'
5. Principals 4 ′
6th Flauto armonico 4 ′
7th Flauto in XII 2 23
8th. Flautino 2 ′
9. Decimino 1 35
10. Flauto in XIX 1 13
11. Piccolo 1'
12. Ripieno V
13. Controfagotto 16 ′
14th Tromba armonica 8th'
15th oboe 8th'
16. Musetta 4 ′
17th Voce celeste II 8th'
18th Voci corali 8th'
Pedal mechanism
19th Bordone (= No. 1) 16 ′
20th Bordone (= No. 3) 8th'
21st Flauto (= No. 6) 4 ′
22nd Controfagotto (= No. 13) 16 ′
23. Fagotto (from No. 13) 8th'
24. Musetta (= No. 16) 4 ′

Choir positive

Since 1991 there has been a mobile instrument in the sense of a small choir organ . This so-called “Positivo aperto” has nine registers on a manual and pedal. It can be played from the first manual of the four-manual general console of the organ system.

Manual work
1. Principals I 8th'
2. Principals II 8th'
3. Ottava 4 ′
4th Flauto 4 ′
5. Decimaquinta 2 ′
6th Ripieno VI
7th Tromba 8th'
8th. Basso 16 ′
9. Ottava 8th'


  • André Horstmann: Church leader Florence. EA Seemann Verlag, Leipzig 2011, ISBN 978-3-86502-271-4 .
  • Bertrand Jestaz : The art of the Renaissance (= Great Epochs of World Art. Series 3, Vol. 4). Herder, Freiburg (Breisgau) a. a. 1985, ISBN 3-451-19404-X .
  • Alain J. Lemaitre: Florence and its art in the 15th century. Photographs by Erich Lessing. Terrail, Paris 1992, ISBN 2-87939-067-2 , p. 142.
  • Ross King: The Miracle of Florence. Architecture and intrigue: Like the most beautiful dome in the world, Albrecht Knaus Verlag GmbH, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-8135-0160-4 (3rd edition, ibid 2001) was created.
  • Thomas Krämer: The great dome of Florence. A guide to the architectural masterpiece of Filippo Brunelleschi. Free Spiritual Life Publishing House, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-7725-1963-6 .
  • Thomas Krämer: Florence and the birth of individuality. Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Masaccio. Free Spiritual Life Publishing House, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-7725-1144-9 .
  • Norbert Nussbaum, Sabine Lepsky: The Gothic vault. A story of its shape and construction. Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1999, ISBN 3-534-01584-3 .
  • Christian Preiser: Well arched is half coupled. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , September 30, 1997, p. 6.
  • Gustina Scaglia: The construction of the Florentine dome. In: Spectrum of Science . No. 3, 1991, pp. 106-112.
  • Rolf Toman (ed.): The art of the Italian Renaissance. Architecture - sculpture - painting - drawing. Könemann, Cologne 1994, ISBN 3-89508-054-3 .
  • Klaus Zimmermanns: Florence. Paths through the Medici city: from the Cathedral Square to the Uffizi Gallery, over the Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti. 6th, updated edition. Dumont Reiseverlag, Ostfildern 2012, ISBN 978-3-7701-3973-6 .

Web links

Commons : Santa Maria del Fiore  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Catholic.org Basilicas in Italy (English)
  2. Klaus Zimmermanns: Florence. A European center of art. History, monuments, collections. 6th edition. DuMont, Cologne 1990, ISBN 3-7701-1441-8 , p. 75; Rolf Toman (ed.): The art of the Italian Renaissance. 1994, p. 261.
  3. ^ Alain J. Lemaitre: Florence and its art in the 15th century. 1992, p. 142; Klaus Zimmermanns: Florence. A European center of art. History, monuments, collections. 6th edition. DuMont, Cologne 1990, ISBN 3-7701-1441-8 , p. 75.
  4. Santa Maria del Fiore - Organo Mascioni 1961. organday.altervista.org, accessed June 2, 2014 .
  5. ^ Firenze - Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. mascioni-organs.org, accessed December 5, 2017 (en + it).
  6. Klaus Stephan: Study on the construction of the dome in Florence. Edited by Isabelle Ebering. 2005. online (PDF; 6.2 MB) .
  7. Dietmar Polaczek: The Last Judgment is postponed , in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , Feuilleton, from April 2, 1994.
  8. ^ Bertrand Jestaz: The art of the Renaissance. 1985, p. 23.
  9. Klaus Zimmermanns: Florence. A European center of art. History, monuments, collections. 6th edition. DuMont, Cologne 1990, ISBN 3-7701-1441-8 , p. 23.
  10. Klaus Zimmermanns: Florence. A European center of art. History, monuments, collections. 6th edition. DuMont, Cologne 1990, ISBN 3-7701-1441-8 , p. 138.
  11. ↑ For more details see Rolf Toman (ed.): Die Kunst der Gotik. Architecture - sculpture - painting. Könemann, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-89508-313-5 , p. 254.
  12. Ross King: The Miracle of Florence. 3. Edition. 2001, p. 51.
  13. Gustina Scaglia: The construction of the Florentine dome. In: Spectrum of Science. No. 3, 1991, pp. 106-112, here p. 106.
  14. ^ A b Christian Preiser: Well arched is half coupled. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , September 30, 1997, p. 6.
  15. Ross King: The Miracle of Florence. 3. Edition. 2001, p. 64.
  16. See also Alain J. Lemaitre: Florence and its art in the 15th century. 1992, p. 68.
  17. Ross King: The Miracle of Florence. 3. Edition. 2001, p. 59.
  18. Thomas Krämer: Florence and the birth of individuality. 1992, p. 215 ff.
  19. Gustina Scaglia: The construction of the Florentine dome. In: Spectrum of Science. No. 3, 1991, pp. 106-112, here p. 108.
  20. ^ Bertrand Jestaz: The art of the Renaissance. 1985, p. 525.
  21. Ross King: The Miracle of Florence. 3. Edition. 2001, p. 108.
  22. Ross King: The Miracle of Florence. 3. Edition. 2001, p. 122.
  23. Ross King: The Miracle of Florence. 3. Edition. 2001, p. 133.
  24. Norbert Nussbaum, Sabine Lepsky: The Gothic vaults. 1999, p. 14.
  25. Information on Mascioni

Coordinates: 43 ° 46 ′ 23 "  N , 11 ° 15 ′ 25"  E