Summer evenings in the center of Florence are perfect for the traditional passeggiata, or stroll, to see the city’s most beautiful monuments lit in a theatrical light. And now, the Baptistery of Florence is open to the public until 11pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until September 28, 2013.
With its 300,000 visitors a year, the Baptistery of Florence is currently in the news around the world for the new Dan Brown book Inferno. The American author staged one of the most significant episodes of the book with the protagonist who enters through the “Gates of Paradise” doors and finds the death mask of Dante with a enigmatic message.
But the octagonal Baptistery in the Piazza del Duomo isn’t new to Florentines. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1059 and 1128. The architectural style is known as Florentine Romanesque, and influenced Renaissance architects such as Leone Battista Alberti. The famous bronze baptistery doors on the south side were made by Andrea Pisano and on the north and east sides by Lorenzo Ghiberti after he won the prized commission, subsequently named the “Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo. But what you can see on the inside is a stunning mosaic ceiling including a fantastic depiction of the Last Judgement, dating from 1225.
The Baptistery also has a history of some very important people having been baptized there such as Dante Alighieri in 1266 and some notable Renaissance figures: Amerigo Vespucci (1454), Niccolò Machiavelli (1469), Lisa Gherardini “La Gioconda” (1479), and Cosimo I de’Medici (1519).
The Baptistery can be visited by purchasing a ticket through the “Grande Museo del Duomo” comprehensive ticket for 10 euro.