Battistero di San Giovanni (Firenze)

( Florence Baptistery )

The Florence Baptistery, also known as the Baptistery of Saint John (Italian: Battistero di San Giovanni), is a religious building in Florence, Italy, and has the status of a minor basilica. The octagonal baptistery stands in both the Piazza del Duomo and the Piazza San Giovanni, across from Florence Cathedral and the Campanile di Giotto.

The Baptistery is one of the oldest buildings in the city, constructed between 1059 and 1128 in the Florentine Romanesque style. Although the Florentine style did not spread across Italy as widely as the Pisan Romanesque or Lombard styles, its influence was decisive for the subsequent development of architecture, as it formed the basis from which Francesco Talenti, Leon Battista Alberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, and other master architects of their time created Renaissance architecture. In the case of the Florentine Romanesque, one can speak of "proto-renaissance", but at the same tim...Read more

The Florence Baptistery, also known as the Baptistery of Saint John (Italian: Battistero di San Giovanni), is a religious building in Florence, Italy, and has the status of a minor basilica. The octagonal baptistery stands in both the Piazza del Duomo and the Piazza San Giovanni, across from Florence Cathedral and the Campanile di Giotto.

The Baptistery is one of the oldest buildings in the city, constructed between 1059 and 1128 in the Florentine Romanesque style. Although the Florentine style did not spread across Italy as widely as the Pisan Romanesque or Lombard styles, its influence was decisive for the subsequent development of architecture, as it formed the basis from which Francesco Talenti, Leon Battista Alberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, and other master architects of their time created Renaissance architecture. In the case of the Florentine Romanesque, one can speak of "proto-renaissance", but at the same time an extreme survival of the late antique architectural tradition in Italy, as in the cases of the Basilica of San Salvatore, Spoleto, the Temple of Clitumnus, and the church of Sant'Alessandro in Lucca.

The Baptistery is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors with relief sculptures. The south doors were created by Andrea Pisano and the north and east doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Michelangelo dubbed the east doors the Gates of Paradise.

Up to 1935, the Baptistery was the only place where Florentines were baptized. As a consequence, poet Dante Alighieri, famous Renaissance artists, Amerigo Vespucci, members of the Medici family, etc. were baptized in this baptistery.

The building contains the monumental tomb of Antipope John XXIII, by Donatello.

Early history  Illustration from Villani's Nuova Cronica, showing Totila razing the walls of Florence in the 6th century, leaving a previous Baptistery intact

It was once believed that the Baptistery was originally a Roman temple dedicated to Mars,[1] the tutelary god of the old Florence. The chronicler Giovanni Villani reported this medieval Florentine legend in his 14th-century Nuova Cronica on the history of Florence.[2] Excavations in the 20th century have shown that there was a 1st-century Roman wall running through the piazza with the Baptistery, which may have been built on the remains of a Roman guard tower on the corner of this wall, or possibly another Roman building including a second-century house which was restored in the late 4th or early 5th century.[3][a] It is certain that an initial octagonal baptistery was erected here in the late 4th or early 5th century. It was replaced or altered by another early Christian baptistery in the 6th century. Its construction is attributed to Theodelinda, queen of the Lombards (570–628), to seal the conversion of her husband, King Authari.

Octagonal design

The octagon had been a common shape for baptisteries for many centuries since early Christian times. Other early examples are the Lateran Baptistery (440) that provided a model for others throughout Italy, the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus (527–536) in Constantinople and the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna (548).

 Octagonal plan with a scarsella on the west

The earlier baptistery was the city's second basilica after San Lorenzo, outside the northern city wall, and predates the church Santa Reparata. It was first recorded as such on 4 March 897, when the Count Palatine and envoy of the Holy Roman Emperor sat there to administer justice.[citation needed] The granite pilasters were probably taken from the Roman forum sited at the location of the present Piazza della Repubblica. At that time, the baptistery was surrounded by a cemetery with Roman sarcophagi, used by important Florentine families as tombs (now in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo).

Construction

The present much bigger Baptistery was built in Romanesque style around 1059, evidence of the growing economic and political importance of Florence. It was reconsecrated on 6 November 1059 by Pope Nicholas II, a Florentine. According to legend, the marbles were brought from Fiesole, conquered by Florence in 1078. Other marble came from ancient structures. The construction was finished in 1128.

An octagonal lantern was added to the pavilion roof around 1150. It was enlarged with a rectangular entrance porch in 1202, leading into the original western entrance of the building, that in the 15th century became an apse, after the opening of the eastern door facing the western door of the cathedral by Lorenzo Ghiberti. On the corners, under the roof, are monstrous lion heads with a human head under their claws. They are early representations of Marzocco, the heraldic Florentine lion (the symbol of Mars, the god of war, the original male protector of Florentia, protecting a lily or iris, the symbol of the original female patron of the town, Flora, the fertile agricultural earth goddess).

Between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, three bronze double doors were added, with bronze and marble statues above them. This gives an indication that the Baptistery, at that time, was at least equal to the neighbouring cathedral in importance.

^ "Baptistery of Florence". Museums in Florence. Archived from the original on 6 July 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2020. ^ Villani, I.42. ^ a b Toker, Franklin (1976). "A Baptistery below the Baptistery of Florence". The Art Bulletin. 58 (2): 157–167. doi:10.2307/3049493. ISSN 0004-3079. JSTOR 3049493.


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