Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Florence 2012 Journal: Piazza del Duomo

Piazza Del Duomo

Florence is a city where the period of Renaissance has boldly left its mark, and on the 10th October I was able to see this first hand with a visit to the Piazza del Duomo, where Santa Maria del Fiore and the Battistero di San Giovanni are situated.

. The Battistero di San Giovanni was built on 11th century ruins and is a stylistic crossover of Romanesque and gothic style. The Romanesque aspect uses and recycles elements of roman architecture (which lends itself to much of ancient Greek architecture) such as the triangular pediments that are similar to ones that can be found on the Parthenon in Greece. The Gothic element is very much an influence of Christianity. Its shape is octagonal which represents the number ‘8’ and is a reference to the symbol of infinity (∞) and also therefore the possibility of resurrection. Furthermore, the architecture of the Baptistery refers to the trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in that it has three levels with each side having three windows, three arcades etc.

Andrea Pisano’s door and Lorenzo Ghiberti’s first door contain 28 quatrefoils each, whilst the ‘Gates of Paradise’ have only 10 panels. Ghiberti’s first door uses 20 of the quatrefoils in portraying the life of Jesus whilst the others have a depiction of the four fathers of the church (Augustine, Gregory, Jerome and Ambrose) followed by the four evangelists (John, Matthew, Luke, Mark). The evangelists are sculpted alongside the ‘living creatures’ with which they are commonly associated from the theological works of St. Jerome. (John: Eagle, Matthew: Winged man (Ghiberti portrays this as an angel), Luke: Ox, Mark: Lion)

Opposite the east door of the Baptistery is the cathedral named Santa Maria del Fiore. The cathedral was built to replace what had stood in its place beforehand – the Basilica de Santa Reparata. The side facades are largely a 19th century addition after the shoddily made walls of the Medici era where no longer adequate. Construction began in 1296, engineered in the gothic style by Alnorfo Di Cambio after which a handful of architects would take his place. Two prominent features of the cathedral are Giotto’s campanile (14th century) and Brunelleschi’s Dome (15th Century).  In order to understand how to construct the dome, Brunelleschi studied the Pantheon (Hadrian, 125 AD), and from there incorporated a double shell structure of the dome using herringbone (Opus Spicatum) brickwork into Santa Maria del Fiore.  The underbelly of this construction was to then be painted under the leadership of Vasari.


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