Everything You Need to Know About the Florence Duomo

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The Florence Duomo, officially the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is a Cathedral (duh), a museum, a bell tower, and Florence’s main attraction. But I bet you’re wondering how to visit, when to visit, how much it costs, and potentially, why is it so famous? We’ll we’ve got all the answers to help you enjoy your visit to the Florence Duomo.

A group of 3 friends pose for a photo in front of the Duomo in Florence, Italy

The Basics of the Florence Duomo

How do you say Duomo?

Dwoh-moh. Or Dwoe-moe, if you’re more of a Curly & Larry person.

What does that word mean?

It’s Italian for “a church with the features of, or having been built to serve as a cathedral” regardless of whether it’s still a church today. The etymology dates back to the Latin word domus, which means “house”, as in “house of God”.

You’ll find duomos in many Italian cities; another famous one being in Milan.

So, is the Cathedral the same thing as the Duomo?

Yes…and no. The Florence Cathedral and the Florence Duomo are the same thing, but there are many parts to the Cathedral complex, like the Baptistry, which is a separate building. More on that (and how to see it all) below.

What about the word ‘Basilica’; where does that come in?

Yes, it’s this too. The Greek and Latin forms of ‘basilica’ mean ‘royal place’. The specific basilica entity of the Florence Cathedral consists of the three naves flanking the area under the dome; this would have been near the alter, or the holiest of holy places.

The interior dome of the Florence cathedral

Visting the Florence Duomo

How much is it?

That’s like asking for a pasta dish…you’ll have to be more specific!

There are several different ticket types:

What are the different parts of the Duomo?

Cathedral: this is synonymous with the word ‘Duomo’. This is the main church, where mass is still held on Sundays. This is the section that is free to enter, as long as you are modestly dressed with your shoulders covered.

Baptistery: this is a smaller cathedral that’s a separate building to the main cathedral. It’s known as the Baptistery of Saint John, and it’s in the shape of an octagon.

Dante Alighieri (the Father of Italian language) was baptized there in 1266 and the golden mosaics inside are all original, made by Venetian masters. The subject is the same as the Cathedral Dome – the last Judgement.

As its name suggests, this building was home to many baptisms, including those of the Medici family. We recommend a guided tour to learn more about its history.

Museum: since 1891, an area inside the Cathedral has been home to the Museum, which tells the stories of the architects, designers, painters, priests, and artisans who helped create and maintain the Cathedral since 1296. There are 28 rooms spread across three floors. The Museum had a renovation in 2015, and guests can now see works from Michelangelos, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, and many other famous artists.

The museum also hosts the 3 original doors of the Baptistry (made of bronze and gold) and one Pietà by Michelangelo.

Santa Reparata: perhaps the best place for kids to get involved, this is the crypt of the Basilica. An archaeological dig in the 1960’s-70’s revealed much of the church’s early structure, made of red brick. The original Cathedral was much larger than it is today.

Bell Tower: this may seem self-explanatory; this is where the Cathedral bells hang. It’s referred to as “Giotto’s Bell Tower” after it’s architect. There are 414 steps to reach the top. The Bell Tower is 84.7 meters tall and approximately 15 meters in breadth.

Dome: the most famous part of the Cathedral complex, this is Brunellschi’s famed double dome. You may also hear it referred to as a ‘cupola’. It’s famous for several reasons; it’s still the largest masonry vault in the world, meaning that no other reinforcements were used to create the stone curve that creates the domed effect. It’s also famous for being two domes; you can see the famous frescos on the inside dome, painted by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari. They tell the story of the Last Judgement. The external dome is adorned in terracotta tiles, as is the Florentine style.

There are 463 steps to reach the top of the Dome. This is the tallest structure in Florence, and local law prohibits any new construction taller than the cupola. The Dome is 52 m (171 ft) high and spans 44 m (144 ft) in breadth.

Where do I buy tickets?

You can purchase tickets directly on the Florence Cathedral’s website, or you can book a guided tour with us! Here’s what we include on our tours:

A group walks around the edge of the interior dome inside the Florence cathedral

We guarantee access to the private rooftop terraces on top of the dome. This is a not-to-be-missed view of Florence!

How do I get there?

The Florence Duomo is located at Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy. It’s a 10-15 minute walk from the Florence train station. You can also take the bus and get off at Santa Maria Maggiore, Proconsolo, Vecchietti, or Pucci Duomo depending on which line you take. Bus lines to the cathedral include C1, C2, C3, 6A, 6B, 11, 14, 23, and 23N. 

Or, you can meet us at our office, located at Via dei Cimatori 9R and we’ll walk there together.

What are the opening times of the Florence Duomo?

Monday 10:15 AM–3:45 PM
Tuesday 10:15 AM–3:45 PM (the museum is closed every first Tue of the month)
Wednesday 10:15 AM–3:45 PM
Thursday 10:15 AM–3:45 PM
Friday 10:15 AM–3:45 PM
Saturday 10:15 AM–3:45 PM
Sunday Closed

When’s the best time to visit the Florence Duomo?

We’re partial to getting an early start! We have tour times available as early as 9am (before the crowds). But we understand that not everyone is an early riser, so we also have afternoon times available.

The Cathedral gets crowded as the day goes on, so we recommend visiting early, then using your afternoon for another activity, like a hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo for an amazing view of Florence.

What’s the dress code of the Florence Duomo?

We recommend guests dress modestly, covering their shoulders and knees. Sleeveless shirts, shorts, and skirts above the knee are not permitted.

Can I attend Mass at the Florence Duomo?

Yes! You can check the schedule on the official Florence Cathedral’s website. They also offer a Mass in English every Saturday at 5pm.

A view over the city of Florence

Things to Do After Visiting the Florence Duomo

Where’s a good restaurant near the Florence Duomo?

Sasso di Dante for an old-world feel and Florentine specialties.

Sophia Loren for amazing pizza.

Le Mossacce for an open-kitchen experience

Eataly for excellent quality in a casual setting.

Where’s a good gelato near the Florence Duomo?

Gelateria Edoardo. It’s organic, too!

The History of the Florence Duomo

Who built the Florence Duomo?

Arnolfo di Cambio is credited with the design of the Florence Duomo. He started construction on the Cathedral in 1296, although it wasn’t completed in his lifetime. The facade remained unfinished until the 19th century, only being completed in 1875 by Emilio de Fabris.

Why was the Florence Duomo built?

There was once a larger church, known as Santa Reparta (today, you can see the remains of this church in the crypt) which was badly damaged throughout several wars and eventually torn down to make room for the modern Florence Cathedral. In addition to replacing the ancient church, the Duomo represents the wealth and prestige of Florence, and it marks the city’s place as the gem of the Renaissance.

When was the Florence Duomo built?

The Florence Cathedral’s construction started in 1296, and it lasted 72 years. It was completed in 1368.

What is the Florence Duomo made of?

The exterior of the Florence Duomo is constructed from pink, green, and white marble. This was mined from the Carrara, Massa, and Prato quarries. The base of the Duomo is sandstone and the arches and vaults are made of brick.

The Dome is made up of stone and brick (famously no wood was used to support it) and it’s still the largest masonry vault worldwide. The Dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, who is known as the father of Renaissance architecture. He worked on the Dome between 1420 and 1436. The Dome famously features a double-dome structure, made up of an inner and outer dome. The double shell is made of sandstone and marble and includes a herringbone brick pattern.

There are 44 stained glass windows surrounding the Dome along with gothic arches and inlaid marble mosaic floors.

What is famous about the Florence Duomo?

The Duomo is Florence’s Renaissance masterpiece! It’s a stunning example of Gothic architecture, and it’s considered to be a masterpiece of the first Italian Renaissance.

Who is buried in the Florence Duomo?

The architect of the famous dome, Filippo Brunelleschi, is buried here.

Our Most-Asked Florence Duomo Questions

Are we using bikes?

No! Our skip-the-line Florence Duomo tour is a walking tour. Your local, professional guide will meet you at our office and walk with you to the Cathedral. They will then guide you every step of the way, through all the various parts of the Duomo complex mentioned above.

Are there toilets inside the Cathedral?

No! Your last opportunity to use the restrooms is inside the Museum.

Is there an elevator?

No…there are 463 steps to climb! But don’t worry, we’ll take it easy 🙂

Is the Cathedral still used for celebrations?

No…the Cathedral is up for rent. But regular Catholic masses are still held here weekly.

Do they have marriage ceremonies inside the Cathedral?

They did at one point, but this is no longer allowed. The last marriage occurring in the Cathedral (that we’re aware of) was that of Grand Prince Ferdinando in 1688.

Which is bigger – the Rome or the Florence dome?

Florence! This is the biggest masonry dome in the world!

How much does the Dome weigh?

37,000 tons. That’s 3.6 Eiffel Towers!

How many people can fit inside the Cathedral at once?

The Cathedral can host up to 30,000 people at the same time.

How many people climb the Dome every year?

1.3 million people! So it’s worth it to get a skip-the-line ticket 🙂


The Florence Duomo isn’t just a pretty picture. There’s a lot to see and experience on the inside, underground, and on the rooftop! We would love to have you join us for our skip-the-line tour, or any of our Florence tours that see the Cathedral. And if you still have questions, we’d love to hear them at support@fattiretours.com.

We want to make your time in Florence engaging & memorable. We can’t wait to show you around!

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