Florence - the Baptistry - Medieval Architecture for Kids

Baptistry at Florence

Florence baptistry
Florence Baptistry

This is where people were baptized in medieval Florence. The building stands on top of an earlier Roman building, and there was probably an earlier baptistery built here around 500 AD.

The octagonal baptistery you see in the picture was built in the Romanesque style around 1100 AD. The outside is covered with patterns of red, white, and green marble. The architect probably learned this way of patterning buildings from earlier buildings in the Islamic Empire, across the Mediterranean from Florence, like the Great Mosque at Cordoba or the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem, both from the 700s AD.

On the inside, the baptistery is decorated with mosaics from the 1200s AD. Some of them were made by visiting artists from Venice, and others by artists from Florence. One of the artists from Florence was the famous Cimabue (chee-MA-boo-ay).

Florence baptistry mosaic
God making Adam and Eve,
mosaic in the baptistry of Florence

The baptistry has fancy bronze doors on three sides. One set of doors was molded, using lost wax casting, by Pisano in 1330 AD. The other two sets of doors were molded by Ghiberti in the 1400s. Ghiberti (gi-BEAR-tee) carved the first set of doors when he was only 23 years old. These doors are also very famous.

One set of doors, and a
panel by Ghiberti showing Cain and Abel.

You might want to compare this baptistry to the baptistry in Pisa, very close by, which was built just after this one. The Florence baptistry is just across from the later Duomo, or Cathedral.

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