Florence > The Baptistery

The Baptistery

The "Bel San Giovanni Dantesque", the religious building more dear to the Florentines, was founded perhaps in the VII century, but it is to the work carried out in the XI-XII centuries the current shapes, which make it the most significant example of Florentine Romanesque style. The octagonal adjust, the symmetrical distribution of the external decoration, the harmonious combination of marbles, were for centuries an ideal architectural landmark for artists of the caliber of Arnolfo, Giotto, Brunelleschi, Alberti, Leonardo and Michelangelo. There are three magnificent bronze doors. The Door. The South is the work of Andrea Pisano, consists of 28 panels that illustrate the life of John the Baptist; the bronze frame is Vittorio Ghiberti (son of Lorenzo, 1452). The north door was accomplished by Lorenzo Ghiberti between 1403 and 1424, after the victory in a contest that saw him opposite to Brunelleschi; the 28 tiles relate to episodes of the life of Christ. The East Gate is the famous "Gate of Paradise", also the work of Lorenzo Ghiberti, carried out between 1425 and 1452; compose 10 tiles in gilded bronze, with complex scenes of the Old Testament, crowded with characters. A pyramidal cover smooth, culminating in a lantern, concludes at the top of the building. The interior of the Baptistery conserves the octagonal shape of the exterior, the vestments and marble the tripartition of each wall with towering columns; above the entablature run the double lancet windows of the women's gallery. At the center of the beautiful marble floor with inlaids stood a baptismal font (remembered by Dante Alighieri in The Divine Comedy), which was demolished in the '500 by Buontalenti by order of Grand Duke Francesco I. Adjacent to the walls are: a baptismal font of the Pisan school of the XIV century; the tomb of the antipope John XXIII, by Donatello and Michelozzo commissioned by banker Giovanni dei Medici; two Roman sarcophagi and a 13th century altar. The beautiful, original wooden Magdalene made by Donatello (1485-55) that was found inside the Baptistery is currently displayed in the Museum of the Opera del Duomo. The segments of the cupola are covered with mosaics made between the goal of '200 and the goal of the '300 by local artisans and blinds (in the Middle Ages the lagoon city was the maximum center of diffusion of the art of mosaic). Among the most important Florentine artists active in the realization of the cartons on the basis of which were then performed, the mosaics are to mention Cimabue (stories of Joseph) and Coppo di Marcovaldo  (Christ). The subject of the grand representation are the stories of the Old and New Testaments and the Final Judgment, dominated by the majestic figure of Christ the Judge.