The Florence Cathedral's building began in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio, and continued for the next 140 years before the dome was completed. When the main part of the cathedral was finished, a 140 foot space was left open to the sky because of no probable way of closing it off. In 1420, Filippo Brunelleschi, with the knowledge from studying architecture after his loss of the baptistery commission, took on the challenge of making a dome to fit over the space that would be structurally strong and capable of standing the test of time, without flying buttresses and traditional wooden centering that all domes had up to this point.
Brunelleschi used his knowledge of the Pantheon in Rome to engineer a geometric linear perspective in creating an oval dome to fit the space, as the Pantheon's half dome was a circle. The dome's structure consists of inner and outer octagonal shells of brick and stone that culminate in an oculus, the point at the top of the dome. The shells are supported by large vertical stone ribs, or ogival arches, at each of the shells' eight octagonal points. There were twenty-four ribs on the inside and eight ribs on the outside of the dome. Empty "window spaces were left inside each of these to lighten the inside of the massive structure. The external covering system of the dome consists of tiles specially designed for easy assembly and maintenance. The top of the dome is held together by a lantern, designed by Brunelleschi, yet was completed after his death in 1436. The Florence Cathedral Dome stands out as the tallest monument in Florence and for many is a symbol of economic and religious guidance.
The Florence Cathedral Baptistery played a huge role in the artistic contributions to the Italian Renaissance. Because of the competition between Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti to create panels, a new form of art was created that inspired many sculptures from that time on. He who made the panel that won would be the