Now called the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers, the main church of Florence, Italy is architecturally astounding to me. I visited it in the summer of 2010 when a student group I was part of visited Italy. When we entered the city, it immediately stood out on the skyline. The construction of the Duomo began in 1296 and was not completed until 1436. What really amazed me about this building was the dome, which was engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. I was only 15 at the time I visited, but even then I was amazed at how something so grand and enduring was standing 574 years after it was constructed.
I could not focus on the engineering and technicality as much when I was climbing because the spiraling, steeply inclined stairs made focusing on anything but my feet in front of me difficult, but while at the top and climbing down I could really soak it in. The sheer size of the dome and building itself was incredible, but thinking about how it was created before all the technology and tools we use today made it even more so. Before I visited Italy, I never really looked at architecture in depth, but only thought of the utility of buildings. After Italy and climbing the Duomo, I really started seeing the art and thought that goes into architecture.
Everything from the incline of each stair, to the arched doorways, to the increasing slope of the walls, had to be thought out and planned to a tee to make the structure stand. The cathedral was not just built to be a building where worship happened, but more a building for people to appreciate and enjoy. The stairs may have been a tough climb, but seeing the inside and outside of the dome, the stairwells and viewing windows in between the walls, and the view of Florence on the top made it well worth the climb.