Santa Maria del Fiore, otherwise known simply as ” Il Duomo”, is the iconic cathedral right smack in the middle of Florence. The history of this cornerstone of Florence is fascinating and complex. Read this guide to not only get all the essential information about this structure and its surroundings but also insider tips and knowledge for when you find yourself in front of the cathedral of Florence.
Doing a tour in Florence is by far the best way to understand the Duomo and our tours include much more than that. Tours in Florence are competitively priced and we keep our groups small. Check out our Florence Tours.
What This Article Covers
- Hours and Ticket Prices
- How Long to Budget for Your Visit
- Duomo Tour Options
- What to See at the Duomo
- Where to Eat Nearby
- How to get to the Duomo
Hours and Ticket Prices
What many people don’t realize is that the Duomo manages more than just the church, but also the Baptistry and Giotto’s Bell Tower. Having said that, inside the church itself there is also a Museum, the Dome high above. But don’t worry, we will cover everything here. This is All You Need to Know, remember?
From Monday to Saturday: 10:15 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
From Monday to Sunday: 11:15 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. Last entry 5:00 p.m.
Admission: €10 Adults | €5 7-14 years old | Free 6 and under (Available only with Museum+Baptistery Combined Ticket)
Monday and weekends: 10:15 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Last entry 3:00 p.m.
Admission: €10 Adults | €5 7-14 years old | Free 6 and under (Available only with Museum and Baptistery Combined Ticket)
Giotto’s Bell Tower
Every day (Monday-Sunday): 8:15 a.m. – 7:45 p.m. Last entry 6:45 p.m.
Admission: €15 Adults | €7 7-14 years old | Free 6 and under
Weekdays (Monday-Friday): 8:15 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Last entry 6:45 p.m.
Saturday: 8:15 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Last entry 4:30 p.m. Last entry 4:30 p.m.
Sunday & public holidays: 12:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Last entry 4:30 p.m.
Admission: €20 Adults | €10 7-14 years old | Free 6 and under
How Long To Budget For Your Visit
Short Answer: 1 hour
The 1-hour short answer totally depends on what you would like to see. For example, if you only want to see the inside of the Cathedral, then I would say 1 hour is definitely long enough, maybe even too much. On the other hand, if you want to visit more than the site or go to the dome then we are talking about at least two hours.
The architectural style of the Cathedral is the Gothic style. One thing to know about Gothic churches is that externally they are the most intricate features of art that exist, but the inside is not nearly as ornate. That is why most people are so surprised once they go in and the ornate style is not reproduced inside the Cathedral.
If you plan on climbing the dome, bear in mind that you will have to conquer 463 steps and there is no elevator. When climbing up you will see many a red face huffing and puffing. Give yourself at least 1.5 hours to do this climb. We do not recommend the dome for people suffering from heart problems, vertigo or claustrophobia, and for pregnant women.
The Baptistery on the inside is quite a fast visit since it is so small. Therefore 30 minutes is more enough, although you will probably spend almost the same time outside the building looking at those famous doors! More on that below.
Duomo Tour Options
We highly recommend doing tours when you come to a new city. You not only gain historical and anecdotal knowledge, but you also save tons of time trying to look for things at certain sites. Plus, our guides are local and super passionate about what they do. You will find our tours are very competitively priced and our standard is fun learning, so no boring moments on our tours!
This is our most popular tour in Florence. It includes skip-the-line admission to David and Accademia for a guided visit. The English speaking guide then takes you to see the Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore, from the outside. You’ll also see the Baptistry Doors, Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, Dante’s District, the Bronze Boar, Leather Market, and Orsanmichele Church. There is always time for a gelato stop too!
The tour combines our Florence city walking tour which includes Michelangelo’s David with our Skip the Line Uffizi Gallery tour in one discounted package. Both tours are small group tours and priced competitively.
This is the private version of our Florence Walking Tour with the Statue of David listed above. It comes at a higher price but your group will be the only people with the guide.
Not going to be in Florence for a while but want to dive into its history? Our live virtual tours are led by local guides in Florence who are passionate about history and want to bring it to people all over the world. It is a 60-minute live presentation. There is a chat function so you can ask questions or make comments and the guide will respond.
What to See at the Duomo
The Florence Cathedral is a must-see attraction and it would be very difficult to miss if you are visiting. The Duomo in the center of town and visible from much of the city. It is named the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore which translates to the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower. One could assume that the name refers to the Giglio or Red Lily/Iris – the flower and symbol of Florence.
The name Santa Maria del Fiore is seldom used in Italy however. Most would simply refer to it as Il Duomo. The Duomo is designed in a very Tuscan/Florentine style. Green and white marble brings life to its facade and surfaces. It differs greatly from the Basilica of Rome in many ways. One is that it is completely detached from other buildings so you can walk 360 degrees around it.
By far the most famous moment in this cathedrals history was the murder of Giuliano dè Medici. On Sunday April 26, 1478, the Pazzi family attempted to dethrone the Medici from power. The idea was to murder both Giuliano and Lorenzo the Great, but they failed to kill Lorenzo and were banished from Florence.
The Opera del Duomo ran a competition in 1418 and was won by Filippo Brunelleschi. Work on the dome didn’t start for another two years until and many thought it was unable to be done but the Medici family pressed on and Brunelleschi completed it in 1434.
The dome, which was the first of its magnitude since the Pantheon, was masterfully built to withstand lightning, earthquakes, and the passage of time. To this day, people stare at it starstruck and wonder how something so gigantic could have been built so long ago… and still, be intact!
To really be in awe of the dome and appreciate it we have to understand a few things about the architect. Filippo Brunelleschi was a goldsmith and sculptor by trade. He had no formal training as either an architect or an engineer. When he won, Florentines had been expecting a top class architect to cap off their beloved duomo, but instead got an artist that makes gold?
The other important factor is that the design didn’t call for flying Buttresses as most Gothic churches had at the time. Luckily Brunelleschi had an idea to solve that. He would build 2 domes with one inside the other. This technique had never been utilized in dome construction before and to this day is still regarded as a remarkable engineering achievement.”
The Baptistry doors of Florence are attached to the Baptistry of St. John in Florence. This is directly in front of the Florence Cathedral (Il Duomo). It is so close to the Cathedral and has such a similar design that it appears to be the same structure but it is a church of its own and considered a minor Basilica.
The structure is one of the oldest in Florence dating back to the late 11th century. The building is recognized in popular culture for three sets of doors but mostly the east doors which are the best. The doors were designed and constructed by Lorenzo Ghiberti and his workshop and took 27 years to complete.
The main reason being that they were done in the early 15th century when art was excelling at a breakneck pace. This was basically when the Renaissance was becoming the Renaissance. Many new techniques were being developed including better uses of space and perspective. Ghiberti was already a local celebrity for his designs on the north doors and these would be his masterpiece.
His time was worth it – these doors are commonly referred to as the Gates of Paradise which was coined by Michelangelo himself. Vasari, one of Florence’s greatest artists and art critics described them in his book Lives of the Artists as, “undeniably perfect in every way and must rank as the finest masterpiece ever created.”
In 1296 the Catthedral Workshop or ” Opera del Duomo” was founded by the republic of Florence to build the church and bell tower. Once these architectural wonders were finished in the mid 15th century, the task of the opera changed to conserving the above mentioned monuments.
In 1891 they created a Museum as a way to house all of the statues and artwork that they took out of the church and Baptistery over the centuries.
The space dedicated to this endeavor is massive with over 64,000 sq ft ( 6,000m) on multiple floors to house over 750 works of art. Spanning more than 700 years of artists it is safe to say that here you will find one of the biggest concentrations of Florentine artwork.
There are pieces of artwork by masters such as Donatello’s wooden statue of a penitent Saint Mary Magdelene. You will also find here Ghiberti’s original doors for the Baptistery, otherwise known as the Gates of Paradise.
Many people don’t know that you will even find a statue by Michelangelo. It was a pieta that he created later in his life and was supposedly carving it for his own tomb. There is damage to his left leg and arm which legend has it was inflicted by himself due to his frustration with his failing skills as he aged.
Where to Eat Nearby
If you are visiting the Duomo around meal time it is important to plan out where you want to eat. If you are having a fancy meal, you probably want to reserve a table but otherwise, walk-ins are welcome in Florence. You’ll find some great options below, but you can also check out our annually updated list of the best restaurants near the Cathedral in Florence.
Coquinarius €€ – Authentic cuisine right in the middle of Florence. They also have an extensive wine list!
La Ménagère €€– They serve coffee, breakfast, and lunch. If you are looking for a break from pizza and pasta or a substantial breakfast it is perfect.
Trattoria Dall’Oste Chianineria €€– Florence is famous for the Bistecca Fiorentina ( Florentine Steak) This is the place to go to try it!
Trattoria Mario €– No frills, local spot for lunch and dinner. When eating here you will feel like a local
How to get to the Duomo
The Duomo is as centrally located in Florence as you can get and easily accessible by foot from anywhere in the center.
- 10 minutes walk from Santa Maria Novella Train Station
- 8 minutes from the Accademia Gallery
- 8 minutes walk from Uffizi Gallery & Ponte Vecchio
- 25 minutes walk from Piazzale Michelangelo
The Duomo is located in a massive square that is appropriately called ” Duomo Square” ( Piazza del Duomo). It kind of pops out at you suddenly as you are walking down one of the narrow streets that surround and then all of sudden- Boom- the beautiful square opens up with Giotto’s Bell Tower on its right and straight in front of it the Baptistery.