The Baptistry of San Giovanni


The Baptistry of Florence is located in Piazza Duomo, right in front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, in the religious heart of the city.

"My beautiful San Giovanni" as Dante calls it in the 19th Canto of his Inferno is a large octagonal structure and it is entirely covered with slabs of white Carrara marble and Serpentine stone from Prato, arranged in such a way as to create a series of harmonious and geometric designs. The particular pyramid roof hides an eight-segment dome, richly decorated with mosaics.

The doors of the Baptistry are very beautiful, all made of bronze with finely decorated stories taken from the Bible and the Gospels. The bronze south door is the one facing Via de’ Calzaiuoli and it is the oldest. It was created by Andrea Pisano between 1330 and 1336. It is divided in 28 tiles, its twenty uppermost panels depict episodes from the life of St. John the Baptist while the remaining eight portray the Christian Virtues. The bronze northern door is the one towards via Martelli and it was cast by Lorenzo Ghiberti between 1403 and 1424 with 28 other panels, 20 of which tell stories from the New Testament and the remaining 8 depict the Evangelists and the four Church Fathers. Finally, the East Gate, also called the Gates of Paradise by Michelangelo, is the one that faces the facade of the Duomo and it is a Renaissance masterpiece.

The Gates of Paradise door is divided into 10 large golden panels representing scenes from the Old Testament which were carried out by Lorenzo Ghiberti and his assistants, including Andrea della Robbia. A curiosity: there are 24 small busts representing illustrious Florentines and among these we also find the self-portrait of Lorenzo Ghiberti and his son Vittorio.

The interior of the Baptistery of Florence is decorated in Romanesque style. The floor is characterized by ornaments made of marble inlays, the illusion is that of walking on refined oriental rugs. The dome is decorated with mosaics and it represents one of the largest and most ambitious works of the time in Europe. It was created thanks to the intervention of selected specialized workers called to Florence from Venice. The center of the mosaic represents an extraordinary image of Christ Pantocrator seated between Heaven and Hell along with stories from the old and new testaments.

Where is it?

Piazza del Duomo, 50122, Firenze Fi

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