by Silvia Messeri
The masterpiece of Brunelleschi
The cupola is a construction of the greatest architectural and artistic
value and can be said to be one of the most important and significant enterprises
of the entire Renaissance. Even today, the
cupola of the Cathedral of Santa
Maria del Fiore, built by Filippo
Brunelleschi, stimulates amazement and wonder for its beauty and majesty.
In actual fact, it was a wager, as far as the great architect was
concerned. Using revolutionary techniques for his day, he managed to invent
a construction that was so modern that even today the finest architects
of our times continue to study and admire it.
Brunelleschi's cupola (Foto FAN)
Building started in 1420 and work continued on it for over 16 years,
concluding in 1436. The cupola was constructed without any centering to
support the walls and this was the first time that such a method had been
used for a building of this type. As often happens where brilliant minds
are concerned, Brunelleschi
's project was looked upon with some scepticism by the Florentines, who
found it impossible to understand how the illustrious architect could
manage to build such a large monument. He did in fact invent some really
extraordinary solutions to guarantee the cupola's stability and lighten
the weight of its structure.
The cupola with its newly restored frescoes (Foto FAN)
When the building was finally complete, the cupola reached the height
of about 60 metres from the ground from a 55 metre base. After 16 years'
labour it still needed to be completed by the lantern (about 22 metres
high, including the copper sphere) that crowns it today, taking it to
almost 100 metres from the ground. The entire structure weighs 37.000
tons and it has been calculated that about 4 million bricks were needed
to build it.
The cupola seen from P.zza S.S.Annunziata (Foto FAN)
See also: A birthday to conclude a millennium
The machines used for the construction of the cupola
That strange clock by Paolo Uccello Programme
of the main cultural events A tour of
the Duomo, reaction of the foreign tourists
FAN-Florence ART News
& Sandro Pintus