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Piazza del Duomo, Main door, Florence.

The duomo or cathedral, of Santa Maria del Fiore is one of Italy's most distinctive landmarks, a lavishly decorated poem in stone whose magnificent dome soars in triumph above the cluster of Florence's central streets. In 1294 the city council issued an edict demanding a cathedral of "the most exalted and most prodigal magnificence, in order that the industry and power of men may never create or undertake anything whatsoever more vast and more beautiful". It went on to say tht the building was to be "so magnificent that it shall surpass anything ... produced in the times of their greatest power by the Greeks and Romans". The church's first stone was laid on September 8, 1296. Remnants of the earlier cathedral, Santa Reparata, can still be seen below the present building.

Financing the project was a problem at the best of times. Some 10% of the initial cost was met by a tax on citizen's property, and as late as 1800 money was still being deducted from every deceased Florentine's estate to pay for the building. All fines from charges of drunkenness were also set aside toward construction cost.

Last Revised October 10, 2007

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