A small and unforgettable masterpiece in the heart of the city: Baptistery San Giovanni Florence
The Baptistery of San Giovanni is one of the oldest churches in Florence and celebrates the city’s patron, St. John the Baptist. It is located just in front of the Florence’s Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It is open to the public and can be visited with a cumulative ticket that allows access to the Baptistery, the Crypt of the Duomo, the Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Brunelleschi’s Dome and at the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo. All these monuments are outside the circuit of the state museums which can be visited for free every first Sunday of the month.
The Baptistery has an octagonal plan, it is covered with slabs of white marble and green of Prato and it is covered by a dome with eight slices resting on the perimeter walls, masked outside by the elevation of the walls above the arch of the second level and by a pyramid roof crushed.
Entering the building, the first thing that catches the visitor’s attention is the precious mosaic of the dome with the huge figure of Christ the Judge with scenes of the Last Judgment which occupy three of the eight sides of the dome. In the overlapping horizontal registers of the other five segments, are depicted the stories of the St. John the Baptist, patron saint of Florence, of Christ, of Joseph and the Genesis. At the centre, in the higher register, are placed the angelic hierarchies.
Opening hours and costs of the Baptistery San Giovanni Florence
The Baptistery is open and can be visited from 8.15 to 10.15 and from 11.15 to 19.30.
Closing day: every first Tuesday of the month.
Entrance from the North Gate.
Appropriate clothing to a place of worship.
The cost of the cumulative ticket is 15.00 euro per person and it allows access to the Baptistery, to the Crypt of the Duomo, to the Giotto’s Bell Tower, to the Brunelleschi’s Dome and at to the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo.
Tickets can be purchased directly online.
History of the Baptistery of San Giovanni Florence
The origins of the Baptistery are uncertain. It is thought to date back to the Roman period of the city and that it was a pagan temple converted into a church. The monument we see today is the result of enlargement of a primitive Baptistery dating back to IV-V century. The internal mosaic decoration dates back to the thirteenth century, with the coverage of the purse and the entire dome made by Jacopo Torriti and, perhaps, the new Florentine school of painting: Cimabue and Coppo di Marcovaldo.
The bronze doors of the Baptistery San Giovanni Florence
The oldest is the South Gate built between 1330 and 1336 by the sculptor Andrea Pisano. It shows in the twenty exceeding compartments such episodes of the life of John the Baptist, and in the remaining eight, the Christian Virtues.
The North Gate, was the second to be made. Basically set as the first, it represents in the upper twenty panels such scenes from the New Testament and in the lower eight panels the Evangelists and the four Fathers of the Church.
Finally the East Gate, called the Door of Paradise by Michelangelo, the Renaissance masterpiece by Ghiberti and his assistants, among which Luca della Robbia. Ghiberti and his workshop, won without competition the commission of the door which was made in a different format from the other two, in ten large panels.
To remember that in origin, inside the Baptistery there was also other great works of art, such as the Maddalena di Donatello or the Silver Altar, now housed in the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo for conservation reasons.
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