The crowning glory of Florence is the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower dominating the city skyline with the largest brick dome in the world designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The first cathedral was built in the 5th century and dedicated to Santa Reparata, but over the centuries fell into disrepair and in 1294 the city council approved Arnolfo di Cambio to replace it. The new gothic cathedral took a further 170 years to complete by various other architects and eventually by 1418 only the dome was missing.

In order to build a dome of this size it would usually need a large wooden support structure and flying buttress, but Brunelleschi had other plans and they were the work of a genius. The outer shell of the dome was constructed of bricks in a herringbone pattern with rigid metal chains acting as horizontal support beams and vertical ribs on the outside curving towards the center. With over 37,000 tons of materials used for the construction, Brunelleschi designed many hoisting machines and lewissons and eventually the dome was complete in 1436.
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