Thursday, September 27, 2012

Brunelleschi's lantern at the top of the Duomo

Top of the Duomo in Florence Italy

And here we have Brunelleschi's lantern at the top of the dome of the The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Firenze, Italia (Florence, Italy) or just the Duomo, as it is more widely known.
To get to the top, requires the purchase of a ticket and then 414 back breaking steps (no elevator).

   Like a tree where lovers carve their initials as show of affection for viewers to come, hundreds of couples have written their names or initials on the lantern. 

  After the miraculous construction of the dome by Brunelleschi, his ability to crown the dome with a lantern was questioned and he had to undergo another competition. He was declared the winner over his competitors Lorenzo Ghiberti and Antonio Ciaccheri. His design was for an octagonal lantern with eight radiating buttresses and eight high arched windows (now on display in the Museum Opera del Duomo). Construction of the lantern was begun a few months before his death in 1446. Then, for 15 years, little progress was possible, due to alterations by several architects. The lantern was finally completed by Brunelleschi's friend Michelozzo in 1461. The conical roof was crowned with a gilt copper ball and cross, containing holy relics, by Verrocchio in 1469. This brings the total height of the dome and lantern to 114.5 metres (375 ft). This copper ball was struck by lightning on 17 July 1600 and fell down. It was replaced by an even larger one two years later.