The Cathedral or Duomo and
the Baptistery of Florence stand in a huge
rectangular area and occupy two separate but comunicating
squares: Piazza del Duomo, which contains the basilica of
Santa Maria del Fiore (the third largest cathedral in the
world after St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London),
and Piazza San Giovanni.
With the Baptistery right in the centre, probably the first
Christian church in the city, as it was built in late Roman
times (4th-5th century A.D.) on the ruins of what was possibly
a Roman temple dedicated to the god Mars.
However, the Baptistery as we see it today, which has always
represented an architectural reference point for Florentine
artists, dates from the 11th-13th century, when the external
revestmment of marble, the interior and the mosaics in the
cupola were completed.
The three famous doors in gilded bronze, including the so-called
Doors "of Paradise", were cast at a later date,
between 1330 and 1452.