Brunelleschi’s Dome (Florence, Italy)

The dome that sits atop the cathedral in Florence, Italy is an engineering feat even to this day. So much so that TV programs like NOVA and the National Geographic channel have had specials where engineers today try to re-create it in the same form (using modern computers, tools, etc…) that Brunelleschi did. The crazy thing about what Filippo Brunelleschi did is that he built and designed this dome in 1418! Imagine what we all could accomplish if we didn’t watch TV for three to four hours each day – I feel like such a failure!

Brunelleschi’s Dome (Florence, Italy)

Brunelleschi's Dome (Florence, Italy)

Seriously though this is was and is a pretty impressive feat and Florence was in a real bind until they opened a ‘contest’ up to everyone in the world to design a dome that could cover the altar in the cathedral. Architects of varying fame from around the world submitted plans and designs but the one who was selected – Filippo Brunelleschi – was a goldsmith with no formal training in building structures like the one that still stands nearly 600 years later. Pretty damn amazing.

There is a fascinating article over on National Geographic’s website called Brunelleschi’s Dome if you’d like to read more of the back story and the reaction of the architects that weren’t chosen (sore losers anyone?).

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6 thoughts on “Brunelleschi’s Dome (Florence, Italy)

  1. Gorgeous image. Love the warmth of the setting (rising?) sun on the city. Brunelleschi’s brilliant plans for the Duomo are nothing short of genius. We watched a PBS special (maybe it was Nova?) and it was fascinating. My husband and I visited Florence a few years ago. Loved it.

    • Thanks! It’s the sun is setting over the city – I forget the name of the tower (really need to take better notes) that we were up in but it gave really nice views across the city in all directions.

      I think we watched the same special on PBS (if it was NOVA) and yeah we really enjoyed it. I wish we had watched it before going to Florence ourselves though because I didn’t know the history and engineering behind it until we were already back stateside.

  2. Beautiful!!! According to what I studied in high school (and that, for whatever reason, has stuck in my mind ever since), no one had ever accomplished what Brunelleschi did, i.e. a double dome of that size and height without a central column holding it. The story goes, and I hope it’s true because it’s too good, that the committee hearing proposals was so incredulous at what Brunelleschi was proposing that they ordered him booted out of the room at least twice during his presentation… But lastly they believed in him (partially because they had run out of ideas…)

    • Great story and fascinating that they just kind of said well screw it we are all out of ideas so let this crazy guy take a shot at it…it’s better than anything else we have going on! And because of that one of the amazing feats of modern engineering was accomplished. I really wished I knew this story before going in because I would have appreciated the engineering aspect so much more!

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