The Opera del Duomo Museum (Museum of the Works of the Cathedral) is home to an immense collection of 750 sublime works of art created over the centuries to decorate both the inside and outside of the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Bell Tower. A thrilling experience awaits as you gaze upon the works of Michelangelo, Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Luca della Robbia, Andrea Pisano, Antonio Pollaiuolo, Andrea Verrocchio, Arnolfo di Cambio, Ghirlandaio, and many others.
Your tour begins in the great exhibition halls of a former theatre, home to the Sala dell’Antica Facciata. The installation here is a reproduction of Piazza del Duomo as it was in the 1300s, with the ancient life-sized façade of Santa Maria del Fiore on one side and, on the other, the three original gates of the Baptistery dominated by groups of sculptures, with the legendary glittering golden gates by Lorenzo Ghiberti — which Michelangelo called the "Gates of Paradise" — in the middle. On the monumental Gothic façade there are 40 magnificent sculptures, including the one of St. John the Evangelist by Donatello, St. Luke the Evangelist by Nanni di Banco and the Madonna of the Glass Eyes by Arnolfo di Cambio, all set at their original medieval height: a fascinating space that recalls ancient places imbued with powerful spirituality.
You will then proceed to some halls that host two of the museum's most important masterpieces: the sublime and deeply moving Pietà del Duomo by Michelangelo — in which the face of Nicodemo who holds Christ is thought to be a self-portrait of the artist — and the heart-rending Penitent Magdalene by Donatello. The tour continues on the first floor along a lovely illuminated gallery where a surprising series of high-reliefs and 16 statues from the Giotto’s Bell Tower are located, including the famous prophets Jeremy and Abacuc by Donatello.
You will then visit the amazing Sala della Cupola, home to wooden models of the dome dating to the 1400s, the Lanterna by Filippo Brunelleschi, and then the Galleria delle Cantorie, amazing sculptures by Donatello and Luca della Robbia. The last stop of the visit is the Gallery of the Silver Altar, home to the Altar of St. John and the Cross, which contains a fragment of the Christ Cross. They are masterpieces of medieval and renaissance crafted in silver that belonged to the treasury of the Baptistery. Such great artists as Antonio del Pollaiolo and Andrea Verrocchio, among others, worked on them.
Those who desire to do so may go up to the panoramic terrace to get a close-up look at the magnificent Brunelleschi’s Dome, keeping the unforgettable memory of an exceptionally emotional experience in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities in the world! After the tour has ended, feel free to remain in the museum.