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Church of St. Ignazio – Rome

Rome - St Ignazio - exterior
Rome - St Ignazio - interiorRome - St Ignazio - frescoRome - St Ignazio - dome

The colossal Baroque Church of St. Ignazio is dedicated to the founder of the Society of Jesus: Ignatius of Loyola.

In 1560 the Marchesa della Valle donated an entire city’s block to the Jesuit Order. The Church construction struggled with money shortage since the beginning. Named the Church of the Annunciation was built by Giovanni Tristano, a Jesuit himself, only with Jesuit labour. It became immediately the Chapel of the Roman College. Soon the number of students that attended the College grew and Pope Gregory XV, inspired by the canonization of St. Ignatius, ordered the erection of a new church dedicated to the Saint. The construction started in 1626; the church was opened to the public in 1650 for the Jubilee but the final consecration was celebrated only in 1722.

Things to see

The Church of the Gesu’, the Jesuit mother church, was the model for this building.

A unique feature characterizes this church: as a result of the money shortage the Jesuit hired a painter, Andrea Pozzo, to depict the dome. The artist was able to recreate a perspectival projection in order to give visitors the illusion of a cupola that doesn’t exist. Standing on a marvel disk positioned into the middle of the nave floor it is possible to be fooled and actually believe in the existence of the dome.

Pozzo’s frescoes represent the work of St. Ignatius and his Order.

The chapel located at the south-east corner accommodates the funeral memorial of Pope Gregory XV and Cardinal Ludovisi, st. Ignazio church’s founder.

Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore

Florence - Duomo - top view
Florence - DuomoFlorence - Duomo - side viewFlorence - Duomo - night view

At the end of the 13th century, the city council decided to replace the old Cathedral Santa Reparata by a new one, the actual cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. The project was first given to the architect Arnolfo di Cambio the construction had only started when he died in 1302. Then the architect Giotto pursued it along with several other architects after him.

A great problem appeared when it came to build a dome and it was finally the architect Filippo Brunelleschi who solved it and created a beautiful dome. The dome is octagonal and measures 112 meters and it took no less than 140 years to finish the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore.  As the dome is octagonal, Brunelleschi dedicated one team per side, so 8 different teams worked on this dome, they used approximately 4 millions of bricks. Bricks were put in “spina di pesce”, it means as a shape of fish bones, so not straight and it made the dome very strong. Brunelleschi thought his cupola for the dome very carefully. During the construction, no outside scaffoldings were used to build the dome but internal structures were built month after month while it was growing up. The construction was finished in 1436 but the lantern on the top of the cupola was only set in 1461.

Things to see

Giorgio Vasari was chosen to decorate the dome inside. He decide to paint the Last Judgement, however he died three years after he started the project. After his death, the work was given to Federigo Zuccaro. The Last Judgment was finished in 1579.

The dome can be climbed and visitors can appreciate a wonderful view over the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore and Florence roofs.

The façade which can be admired today is more recent and was realized during the 19th century.

More than a church, the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore became a sign of the rich and prosperous city of Florence. Since the Renaissance, the dome and the cathedral were the symbol of the city of Florence.