Florence Travel Guide

Santa Reparata

The old cathedral of Florence was built between the 4th and the 5th centuries on the ruins of a Roman church, with columns dividing the nave form the two side aisles and a single apse.

During the Byzantine wars the church was destroyed, to be rebuilt in the 9th century. The perimeter remained almost the same but the building was enriched by two side chapels and the columns were replaced by piers with engaged pilasters. Between the year 1000 and 1100 a crypt was added under the apse and the choir was raised, while two bell towers were built near the apse.

When the new Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was built, this ancient church, dedicated to the young saint who died a martyr in Caesarea, had to relinquish its site. The new Cathedral however was built around the old church which was not torn down until its completion in 1375.

In 1966 when the pavement of the Duomo had to be restored, remains of the preceding cathedral came to light. Now an entrance located between the first and second piers of the right aisle of the Duomo leads down into a spacious chamber where, thanks to the structures installed by the architect Morazzi, the remains of frescoes which once decorated the church, the tombstones of various prelates and civil authorities (as well as the slab which indicates Brunelleschi's tomb, and stretches of the brick and mosaic pavements can still be seen.

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