Il Duomo Baptistry
Florence, Firenze, Italy
Piazza San Giovanni in summertime.
Left is the Baptistry (Battistero di San Giovanni in Italian), the oldest building in Florence with foundations laid in 1059. The Romanesque-styled octagon took 100 years to complete.
The Duomo is behind it and Piazza Duomo is beyond the Campanile tower.
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The Baptistry's astonishing 'Gates to Paradise', east doors facing the Duomo (and free to view).
These panels are copies; the originals, cast in bronze and gilt by Lorenzo Ghiberti over 27 years, can be seen in Firenze's Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. The doors show scenes from the Old Testament of the Bible as well as heads of prophets, sybils (female prophets) and even the door creator Lorenzo and his father (bottom-centre, left and right).
Michelangelo referred to these doors as the 'Gates to Paradise' and they are still known by that name today, especially as there is always a crowd of people waiting outside! But no one ever gets in that way...
The Baptistry's incredible Venetian mosaic ceiling, started in 1225 and finished about 100 years later. Overruns were not a problem in those days.
As in the current Duomo (this building was the previous Duomo), the images depict the Last Judgement (visible on both sides of Christ) with some particularly gruesome pictures of evil folk (bankers, politicians etc.) being tortured in hell.
Detail from the south door of the Baptistry, Jesus baptising his disciples. Dante, by the way, apparently almost drowned when he was baptised here.
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