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What to See in Florence's Duomo

What to See in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy

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The interior of Florence cathedral in Italy.
Julian Elliott Photography/Photolibrary/Getty Images

A visit to the Duomo is one of the highlights of a trip to Florence. But while the exterior and dome of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral are its most interesting aspects, the interior is largely unadorned. Here are a few noteworthy features that visitors to the Duomo may enjoy.

Works of Art: The inside of the Duomo is a vast space and contains only a few works of art. Among these are its 44 stained glass windows, which were designed by some famous Renaissance artists, including Lorenzo Ghiberti, Donatello, and Paolo Uccello. The latter also responsible for painting the heads of the prophets on the cathedral clock, which is above and to the left of the entrance door. There is also a famous fresco of the poet Dante and his Divine Comedy by Domenico di Michelino on the left wall.

The Crypt: For a small entrance fee of €3, visitors can visit the crypt, which contains the archeological remains of the ancient cathedral of Santa Reparata. Also in the crypt are the tombs of past bishops of Florence and the tomb of dome architect Brunelleschi.

The Dome: The artist Giorgio Vasari began painting the fresco in the interior of the dome in 1568. But, after his death in 1574, Federico Zuccari took over the job, which he completed in 1579. This fresco of The Last Judgment and other details of the dome are best observed with a tour of the dome (see fees and tours above). A tour of the dome also allows visitors to walk around the outside of the dome, which has spectacular, panoramic views of Florence and the Tuscan hills. See photos taken from the Duomo Dome.

Visitors take note that a tour of the dome may not be for the faint of heart. There are 463 steps to the top of the dome. There are also interior and exterior balconies, which may be alarming for those with a fear of heights.

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