The Baptistery of Florence (Battistero di San Giovanni – “Baptistry of Saint John”) is a magnificent Christian building of immense importance. The Baptistery was used as a baptismal font for the children of Florence until the 19th century. The most significant figures in the city’s history, such as members of the Medici family and the famous poet Dante Alighieri were baptized there. Dante even mentioned Baptistery in his works as “the beautiful church of Saint John.”
The Baptistery is an octagonal structure designed in the Florentine Romanesque architectural style (found in Florence). It is known for the three particular bronze doors located in its southern, northern, and eastern parts, with the eastern ones known as the “Heaven’s Gate” given to them by Michelangelo. The doors were created at the beginning of the Renaissance period and are an example of the style of sculpture that developed during this period. They are decorated with panels and reliefs made by an artist, showing significant religious works.
The Baptistery stands in Piazza del Duomo, opposite Giotto’s bell tower and west of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It is considered one of the oldest buildings in Florence (its construction began in the 11th century AD), but its foundations show that it is a remnant of a much older Roman structure from the 5th century AD.
The octagonal shape of the Baptistery symbolizes the eight days that pass from the baby’s birth to his baptism, as well as the eighth day when Jesus ascended to heaven. The dome of the building is gilded and decorated with breathtaking illustrations of events taken from the New Testament, and in the center is the figure of Jesus spreading his hands.
The interior design of the Baptistery is reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome. Its lower space is decorated with Roman marble, altars, sculpted columns, and tombstones. The upper area is designed to overlook the insufficient length of the Baptistery and is built as an ambulatory.
Details for visitors
The opening hours of the Baptistery are 08:15-10:15 / 11:15-19:30. Entrance ticket is 18 euros and allows one to visit within 72 hours from the moment the ticket is valid.