Baptistery Saint John, Florence

Baptistery Saint John, Florence
Baptistery Saint John, Florence

The Baptistery of San Juan de Florencia is one of the most well-known and visited elements of the city, perhaps because of its name it is little known to many, but the truth is that this architecture is world famous for housing what are known as Gates of Paradise; It is precisely the fame of the reliefs on the doors that has made the building itself less well known and its architecture has gone more unnoticed despite being truly spectacular. For them precisely in the entry of today we will focus on the architectural complex and not on the sculpture.


The Baptistery of Saint John is one of the oldest buildings in Florence, located near the Duomo and the Campanile, it is part of an architectural complex that has already become a hallmark of the Florentine city, in fact, all the baptisms carried out in the city until well into the 19th century were celebrated in the baptistery.

Its origin is often uncertain and it was not until recent research that we learned a little more about this impressive work. For a long time it was thought that originally the baptistery was a Roman temple dedicated to the god Mars, this hypothesis was not strange since inside, the space of the baptistery is very similar to that of the well-known Roman Pantheon. According to tradition, this legend was propagated by the writer Dan Alighieri, but withoutHowever, this was not the case since documentary sources have shown that it was not Dante but the 14th century writer Giovanni Villani.

However, it seems that the excavations have shown that although the building is very old, it does not date from Roman times, although it is true that the baptistery must have been built on an ancient Roman building. The original baptistery must have dated between the 4th or 5th centuries and was built by the queen of the Lombards Theodolinda to commemorate her husband's conversion to Christianity.

But the building that we find today dates from the 11th century, specifically from the year 1059; it is a Romanesque building decorated with splendid marble brought from Fiesole on purpose. Its plant is octagonal as a symbol of eternal life through the resurrection; On each of the sides we find three stories high: the lower one with three closed spaces that only act as decoration and separated by pilasters that continue on the upper story to support three semicircular arches inside which small rectangular openings have been opened that allow the lighting of the interior of the building. On the upper floor we also find small openings and the start of the roof.

The geometric decoration with vertical and horizontal bands makes the construction fit in perfectly with the other buildings in the square and gives it great homogeneity. Inside, the baptistery has a large space that was intended to accommodate the thousands of faithful who wanted tobaptize.

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