Two of the World’s Most Beautiful Churches Are Found in Florence

After visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Peggy and I travelled on to Florence where we were awed by the Duomo and Santa Croce churches, which we found even more beautiful than the Basilica. These two churches are the focus of my re-post today from our 2015 trip to Europe and are part of my armchair travel in the age of Coronavirus series.

Note: Peggy and I are off on another adventure. This time we will be exploring the back roads of America. Carefully. Covid-19 continues to rage across the country. We have our face masks along and enough sanitizer to bathe in. Even Bone and Eeyore are wearing their face masks! I apologize for not reading posts and comments the past few days but will catch up. One challenge of remote America is the lack of good Internet service. Yesterday, for example, I was in the middle of the Nevada desert on “America’s Loneliest Road” following the route of the Pony Express. I have several more posts in my Adventure Travel series and will then start my Backroad series. Peggy, Eeyore and Bone say hi and urge you to be safe! –Curt

Looking up at the magnificent dome on Florence’s Duomo Cathedral.

There are at least three reasons for visiting Florence’s Cathedral, commonly known as the Duomo. First is the Church itself, second is the magnificent bell tower, which stands next to the church, and third is the octagonal-shaped Baptistery, which stands in front.

The dome of Duomo was one of the great works of the Renaissance. (The church had been waiting since the Middle Ages for its top.) Filippo Brunelleschi, who built the dome, first studied the ancient Pantheon in Rome. Like so much of the Renaissance, the dome represented a return to, or a rebirth of, the Greek and Roman cultures that had thrived 1000 years earlier before the Dark Ages had arrived along with the Barbarian hordes.

A view of the Baptistery on the left, the front of the Duomo in the center, and the dome on the right.
A front view of the Duomo. The bell tower is looming on the right.
Looking up at the Duomo’s intricately painted dome from inside the church.

The 270-foot tall Campanile or Giotto’s Tower, which is located next to the Duomo, was actually completed 100 years before Brunelleschi put his finishing touches on the church. Many consider the bell tower to be among the most beautiful in Europe.

Giotto’s bell tower.
A close up of the top of Giotto’s bell tower. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Looking up at Giotto’s bell tower.

The Baptistery features Ghiberti’s bronze doors. Michelangelo believed these gates were so beautiful they could have served as “the Gates of Paradise.”

The top of Ghiberti’s Bronze Doors on the Baptistery in Florence. Tourists blocked a lower view. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)
A closer look.
And a detailed look at one of the panels.

The Basilica of Santa Croce, a 14th Century Franciscan church, also had some great doors but is better known for the people buried inside including Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Rossini and Galileo. As we stood in front of the church admiring its doors, a man sent bubbles floating into the sky.

A bulb floated up past the carved wooden doors of the Basilica of Santa Croce.
I’ll wrap-up today’s post with a view of the the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence caught in the glow of the afternoon sun.

NEXT POST: Exploring a tiny bit of Florence’s art.

49 thoughts on “Two of the World’s Most Beautiful Churches Are Found in Florence

  1. Curt, I look forward to hearing about your experiences on the road. We are in the midst of a transition to a new home, but are really ready to get back on the road.
    I managed to visit Florence twice, have wonderful memories of both visits and loved those churches and the Duomo’s doors but for some reason never got inside. Well, there is always a next time – I hope.

    • Always a next time, Ray. Keep the faith! Peggy and I just made it back to Arches— she for her second time and me for my fourth. And I absolutely love it. I have faith that we will be back. 🙂 Life out here on the road requires care, but we are being ver=y careful, wearing our masks, avoiding crowded areas, etc. It helps tremendously to have our on little house traveling along with us. Not sure I would want to motel it yet. Lots of people are wearing masks in the places we have visited, but the majority aren’t. –Curt

    • When you have a limited population that reads, what better way to get across your message!
      We are wandering carefully! We are hanging out on backroads for sure. We are faithfully wearing our masks in public but are still in the minority. Things are changing, however! –Curt

  2. Ah Florence’s Duomo! What a spectacular place. As is the baptistry where I lay on the floor the better to see the glorious ceiling. You may or not remember one of my header photos (I have half a dozen or so that come up randomly) is of looking down on the heads of tiny people with long shadows behind them. It was taken at the top of the campanile.
    Happy backroad travels. Stay safe.

  3. I still love to visit cathedrals and any other grand architectural pieces in buildings. And, thanks for posting Ghiberti’s Bronze Doors. It’s been years since I’ve seen these gems.
    Best wishes for safe travels. We’re doing the same — going on back roads, enjoying little pleasures along the way, reconnecting with scenery we’ve seen before — but we’re older now and see it differently. Appreciate what you’re doing.

    • Just spent yesterday at Arches, Kelly, wandering around for six hours with lots of hiking thrown in. 🙂 What and incredible park. It’s my third or 4th time here. Has to be one of my favorites. It’s a long ways from Florence! –Curt

      • Hope you had a blast at Arches! I’ve only been once, for a couple hours in the blasting midday sun on a U-Haul drive from California to Colorado. Would love to go back!

    • Laughing, plenty of ugliness going around. In an era of meg-churches that are thrown up over night, the size of the church and the congregation it holds are usually much more important than artistic considerations. Besides, you can just crank up the Muti-media inside. 🙂 –Curt

  4. Such a lovely city, Florence! I have fallen in love a second time with Florence after reading The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. Thank you for the sweet memories you brought me back😍
    Have an amazing road trip!

    • I remember reading the Agony and the Ecstasy way back when, Christie. I had just returned to California after my time in the Peace Corps and spent a month camping on a remote lake in the Sierra’s. It was my go-to book at the time.:) I should have read it again before going to Florence. Thanks. –Curt

  5. I remember being impressed by all the colors in the Duomo, and wondering how they did that. The Baptistry doors were a marvel as well, although getting through the crowds close enough for a good picture was a little challenging – even if it was a chilly, overcast October day. Did you see the Uffizi museum while in Florence?

    • The crowds weren’t too bad in late November, Dave. But I remember the doors as being one of the more crowded areas. And yes, we made it to the Uffizi. It was a must for us, even on our limited time schedule. –Curt

  6. Astonishingly beautiful buildings, aren’t they? I worked in Florence a lot – it became almost a second home for years. And every time I saw these buildings, it was as if I was doing so for the first time. Regarding Barbarians: amazing how the meaning of that word has changed from something meaning ‘foreigners’ or non-Greek/non-Roman to the connotation of savage and uncivilised.

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