Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of St. John)
Baptistery in Florence
The Baptistery of San Giovanni, one of Florence’s oldest places of worship, has a rich and intriguing history. Initially believed to be a Roman pagan temple dedicated to Mars, it later transformed into a church.
The unique octagonal structure, adorned with striking white and green marble from Prato, stands prominently in front of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. Its ceiling boasts extraordinary mosaics, considered among the largest in the world during that time. Executed between 1266 and the early 1300s, these gold background mosaics depict a grand figure of Christ and scenes from the Last Judgment, crafted by talented artists who trained in the Byzantine style.
Inside the Baptistery, you can find exquisite sculptures, including the tomb of Giovanni XXIII, an Antipope who passed away in Florence in 1426, designed by Donatello and Michelozzo. Another notable work, Donatello’s wooden statue of Mary Magdalene, has been moved to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
The Baptistery is also renowned for its three gilded bronze portals. The oldest, the South Gate, sculpted by Andrea Pisano, features episodes from the life of St. John the Baptist and Christian Virtues. On the North Door, Lorenzo Ghiberti portrayed scenes from the New Testament and the Evangelists. The most famous of all is the East Gate, also by Ghiberti, known as the “Gate of Paradise” and completed in 1452 with scenes from the Old Testament. The original panels, damaged during the 1966 flood in Florence, have been restored and are now displayed in their full splendour at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, alongside the other two original doors.
This website uses affiliate links which may earn a commission at no additional cost to you!
Visiting Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of St. John)
Sundays 8:15 am to 1:30 pm, Tuesday-Friday 8:15 to 10:15 am, 11:15 am to 7:30 pm, Saturdays 8:15 am to 7:30 pm.
A cumulative ticket to the entire Duomo complex costs €18 and is valid for 72 hours after the first entry.