Brunelleschi's Dome in
Brunelleschi’s dome is the largest
masonry dome ever built and it is the coverage of the
Cathedral of Florence.
Brunelleschi's dome, 45 meters wide,
was originally a wooden dome built by Arnolfo di Cambio.
To construct a dome over the presbytery mixed up many
thriving city of Florence in the year 1296. Proud of
their city, the Florentines began to build a glorious
cathedral, designing it with space for a huge dome. But
there was a problem: no one knew how to erect such a
dome. They made a model which they kept in the half-built
cathedral to show how the dome ought to be. If built, it
would be the highest and widest vault raised - but how to
make it remained a puzzle.
The people of
Florence had a touching faith that some day God would send
a man who could solve the puzzle. Their faith was rewarded
by a goldsmith and clockmaker called Filippo Brunelleschi
who was born in 1377.
Brunelleschi designed and built still dominates Florence
today, a miracle of design and engineering. Whether your
stay in Florence is only a brief stop in the Piazzale
Michelangelo to see the bronze copy of David and
look across the river at the city, or whether you stay
for years, the abiding memory will be the way the rhythm
of the tiled rooftops culminates triumphantly in the
great dome. The cathedral is seldom known by its name,
Santa Maria del Fiore, but simply as the Duomo (the Dome)
for locals or Brunelleschi's Dome
difficulties faced by Brunelleschi in constructing the
dome were enormous. The usual way to build an arch or
dome was to support it with scaffolding called "centring"
but the open space in the cathedral was 42m in width and
the Florentines wanted a tall, soaring dome. All the
timber in Tuscany would not have been sufficient to make
the centring. Brunelleschi decided to build without
scaffolding in such a way it supported itself as it
progressed. Brunelleschi's solutions for the dome were
ingenious, innovative and costly. But even today
Brunelleschi's Dome is the tallest building in Florence,
over 600 years after it was built.
Brunelleschi's invention went
everywhere. King tells how he set up a caffe high on the
buildings so the workers would not have to return to the
floor for lunch.
the dome was recognized as a marvel of the age "vast
enough to cover the entire Tuscan population with its
shadow," as a younger contemporary of Brunelleschi's,
Leon Battista Alberti noted.