Brunelleschi’s Dome: icing the top of the Renaissance’s cradle
Brunelleschi’s Dome, or: a masterpiece atop – quite literally – another masterpiece. Let’s discover together the most impressive architectonic work of the Florentine Renaissance!
Brunelleschi’s Dome: a Renaissance solution to a pre – Renaissance problem
The foundation of the, we could say, “current version” of the Duomo, the Florence Cathedral, dates to 1296.
It was the ambitious project of an ambitious and wealthy city. Such a huge building would have needed a huge dome.
The problem is: apparently that kind of dome was impossible to be built…
Brunelleschi’s Dome: the impossible made possible
The medieval buildings were made using wooden scaffolds. To build a dome’s arcs, you would have needed the scaffolding to support the arcs themselves in the process.
A forest wouldn’t have given timber enough for a dome as big as the Florence Cathedral needed…
Florence needed a miracle. Or Filippo Brunelleschi.
Brunelleschi (1377 – 1446) is considered the first “modern engineer”.
His approach to the dome’s problem was what we could define a paradigm shift: a “traditional” dome built in a “traditional” way was impossible indeed.
But he used an unconventional approach: no stone, but bricks. And, in a way, no scaffolding at all…
The bricks structure could sustain itself. Nevertheless, building the dome was a titanic endeavour: it took sixteen years, between 1420 and 1436, and it needed the Lantern to be finished: it will be finished only after Brunelleschi’s death, in 1471.
Nowadays the Cupola still is the tallest building in Florence. It is, of course, part of the Florence Cathedral Museum Complex.
The Cupola and the Lantern can be visited, but the visit, as we were saying in our previous post, needs a specific booking and it is not recommended for people who are claustrophobic, acrophobic or with heart conditions.