Florence - The Works of Brunelleschi
A Hole in the Wall in Florence
Click on the map
to see the walk from
The Hospital of the Innocents to The Duomo
What you will see:
Filippo Brunelleschi has been called the father of Renaissance architecture. His work can be seen all over Florence starting with his first major project, the hospital of the innocents. You don't have to look closely to see his most famous work, the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Fiore, known commonly as the Duomo. By design, the Duomo dominates the skyline giving an already huge building impressive perspective. Our walk starts where Brunelleschi started, at the hospital of the innocents (Ospidale degli Innocentis). Built in the 1420's to provide a home for orphans, the hospital is considered the first Renaissance building. Enter the Museo degli Innocentis to see the stories of the babies left here over the centuries. Brunelleschi's next major project is just a short walk away. The Basilica of San Lorenzo claims to be the oldest church in Florence dating back to A.D. 393, but other churches in Florence make the same claim, and at any rate, San Lorenzo was completely rebuilt in the 1400's. Brunelleschi drew inspiration from the 1st century construction of the Pantheon in Rome to construct the much larger dome for San Lorenzo. Financing for the basilica's construction and for the art that would fill its interior came from the Medici's. The church became the base for the Medici family. By 1743 the basilica would be the final resting place for more than 50 members of the Medici family, their tombs, as well as statues, and other ornamentation being designed by the likes of Michaelangelo and Donatello. Our walk ends at Brunelleschi's last and most impressive design, the Duomo. Brunellecshi was able to create this dome, the largest by far at the time, by actually building two domes, one inside the other. If you haven't had enough exercise from our walk, you can proceed up 463 steps through a narrow passage way to the top of the dome.
What you won't see:
At he Hospital of the Innocents (an Orphanage) you won't see any orphans. The hospital stopped functioning as such in 1875. Today, you'll find the offices of local UNICEF headquarters. In the Basilica of San Lorenzo you will see the famous Michaelangelo designed tombs of the Medici's, but you won't see the tomb of Jesus. You wouldn't expect to, however, you will see a large open space in the middle of the Medici Chapels where they had intended to put the Holy Sepulchre. The Medici's wanted to buy the tomb of Jesus, and when their offer was refused, they tried to steal it. When you climb to the top of the Duomo, you will be rewarded with amazing views of the city of Florence. What you won't see in your view is Florence's most famous sight, that is the dome from which you are viewing. To get a view of Florence with its famous dome, you could climb the bell tower which is cheaper and has fewer steps, or you could go across the river to the Piazzale Michaelangelo, where you get a great view of the entire city for free and with no steps.
Beyond the Bricks:
There are no details as to how the Medici's attempted to buy, and then to steal the Holy Sepulchre. Put aside for a moment the question of motivation. Even with the best of intents, which is not likely, they were willing to break a commandment (thou shall not steal) in order to acquire it. But what really baffles me is the question of what exactly they were trying to acquire. For starters, no one knows where the tomb of Jesus actually is. There are at least two sites in Jerusalem that claim to be the tomb of Jesus, and there is a good possibility that neither of them are the true location. So, if they wanted to buy/steal one of these sites the problem arises that they are sites, not objects. If you look at the Garden Tomb, it fits the description in the Bible. It's a cave; an empty space surrounded by rock; a hole in the wall. And even if this is the correct hole in the wall, Jesus is not there anymore. That's the whole point. He rose up and left. When the disciples came on that Sunday morning and found that he had risen, they went home. They didn't mark the spot or venerate the cave in any way. What would the Medici's have bought or stolen? In this case, all that lies beyond the bricks is empty space.
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The Daily Walk
looks for stories beyond the bricks that you see. Places are interesting because of the back story. Sometimes the back story explains that which you see, and sometimes the back story gives you a perspective when there is nothing to see.