sfondoblog

What’s that on the pillar of the Porta della Mandorla? Bull or cow – Honor or shame?

wine tours tuscanyThere is a carving of a bull or maybe a cow atop the pillar on the Porta della Mandorla, located above the left door on the north side of Santa Maria del Fiore. This would seem a little out of place given the door’s astounding beauty that is decorated with religious and pagan themes- and it has many legends to explain its place on this historical building.

One story explains that the head of the cow, or bull was added to honor all the sacrifice and labor from the animals that carried their heavy loads of materials for the construction of the cathedral. Of course this explanation isn’t as romantic or filled with intrigue like the story of the stonemason who had an affair with a shopkeeper’s wife. As the story goes after learning of the affair, the shopkeeper had his wife and the sculptor tried for adultery. And here is where the story gets kind of fuzzy but the tale includes the conjecture that the stonemason decided to point the bull’s head towards the shopkeeper’s house to express his anger and to remind everyone where his true love lived.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is a typical Italian Gothic building that was completed in 1434. It is also the most important landmark in Florence and the fourth largest church in the world

Dedicated to “Santa Maria del Fiore”, it was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio (c1245-1302) who considerably enlarged the existing religious structure. The cathedral was finished sometime around 1367.

Inside visitors will find many very important works of art to include two detached frescoes showing the “Condottiero Giovanni Acuto“and “Niccolò da Tolentino” painted respectively by Paolo Uccello in 1436 and by Andrea del Castagno in 1456. The clock on the inside with its “heads of saints” was frescoed by Paolo Uccello.

The stained glass windows were made between 1434 and 1455 to the designs of famous artists like Donatello, Andrea del Castagno and Paolo Uccello. The wooden inlays on the Sacristy´s cupboards were designed by Brunelleschi and other artists, including Antonio del Pollaiolo.

The bell tower by Giotto remains, together with the huge dome one of the most striking views of the town. The famous painter, Giotto, was in fact also the architect of the project for the bell tower, although by the time of his death (1337) only the lower part had been completed. The works continued under the direction of Andrea Pisano (c. 1290-1349) and Francesco Talenti (not. 1325-1369) who completed the project.

The reliefs in the lower row of the campanile, depict the creation of man and woman, the beginnings of human work, and the “inventors (according to the Bible) of various creative activities: sheep-herding, music, metallurgy, wine-making. In the upper register are the seven planets, beginning with Jupiter at the north corner. On the other facades, in the lower register there are astrology, building, medicine, weaving and other technical and scientific endeavors. In the upper registers are: on the south, the theological and cardinal virtues; on the east, the liberal arts of the Trivium and Quadrivium; to the north, the seven sacraments. The statues in the niches represent the patriarchs, prophets and kings of Israel, and pagan sybils.

In the upper register are the seven planets, beginning with Jupiter at the north corner. On the other facades, in the lower register there are astrology, building, medicine, weaving and other technical and scientific endeavors. In the upper registers are: on the south, the theological and cardinal virtues; on the east, the liberal arts of the Trivium and Quadrivium; to the north, the seven sacraments. The statues in the niches represent the patriarchs, prophets and kings of Israel, and pagan sybils.