The bell tower of the city of Florence is a structure included in the Duomo complex, a historical architectural cluster that sits in the heart of the city. Besides the bell building, the complex consists of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Historical Opera Museum, and the San Giovanni Baptistery. This is one of the iconic towers of the city. Its impressive height, 85 meters, offers visitors to the tower a spectacular view of the area and the entire city.
A little about the history of the place – the construction of the bell tower of Florence began in 1334, under the direction of the famous Renaissance artist Giotto di Bondone, after whom the observatory is named. Unfortunately, Giotto only got to see the construction of the first floor of the building, as he died in 1337. The construction work continued under the direction of the architects Andrea Pisano and Francesco Talenti.
What to see there – Similar to the other buildings in the Duomo complex, the bell tower is decorated with green, white, and pink marble. The design is relatively simple. The tower’s shape is a symmetrical square with five floors. The first two floors are the most beautiful and impressive. The first floor is decorated with various tiles in geometric shapes with artistic images depicting the creation of man, the planets, and works of art presenting principles from Greek mythology and the Christian religion. The tower’s second floor includes two rows of niches containing statues designed in the likeness of figures from the Bible and telling their stories, for example, the Ark of Isaac, King David, etc. The sculptures were designed by famous Italian artists such as Donatello, Andrea Pisano, and Nanni di Bartolo. The Arno River overflowing in 1966, it was decided that all the performances there would be replicas. The original items were moved to the nearby Opera Museum to preserve them idealistically.
Climbing up the tower – apart from wandering around and admiring the impressive architecture of the tower from the outside and inside, you can climb up the tower. Climbing is undoubtedly a recommended activity for those who visit the place. Already from the third floor, you will begin to see a beautiful view, one of the most beautiful that can be seen from the observation points in the city. Climbing the bell tower is included in the visit if you purchase a combined entry ticket for each Domo complex.
The third and fourth floors of the building contain two large windows, two on each wall, designed in an impressive Gothic style. The fifth and highest floor of the tower includes four tall windows on all four walls and seven ancient bells. From this place, you can see the entire Domo neighborhood and the roofs of the city’s beautiful buildings from a bird’s eye view.
Note that this is not an easy climb of 414 steps. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut or elevator to get to the top, so the activity is unsuitable for those with particularly low fitness, the elderly, and those with various health problems. Also, the passages going uphill are very narrow, and people with claustrophobia are advised to avoid it.
Opening times – the tower is open to visitors throughout the week, from 8:15-18:50. The place is closed for Christian holidays – Easter and Christmas, Sundays, and January 1st. Please note that the site is closed to visitors every first Tuesday.
Prices – a combined entrance ticket to all the buildings in the Duomo complex (OPA Pass), which also includes entrance to the cathedral, the historical museum, and the baptistery, costs 18 euros. The card is valid for 72 hours, and you can visit each site on the card only once. You can order the ticket in advance on the place’s official website, but the queues are not very long so that you can skip it.