Brunelleschi received the right to construct the Dome of Florence in typical
Florentine fashion, by winning a contest. Legend has it that he was the
only one of the participants to figure out how to make an egg stand on
a plate; by cracking it so the bottom was flat. However he was allowed,
Brunelleschi was assigned the task of covering the largest hole in Italy.
To this day, modern architects are not entirely sure how such a large
dome could have been built over an octagon. The Dome is a huge, defining
part of Florence today.
The Dome reminds us more of classical antiquity, unlike earlier Gothic buildings. It is simple and linear, without the intricate tracery and spires of Gothic Cathedrals. Decorative inlays and fine marble are rejected in favour of columns and capitals of ancient times. Buttressing is also not used, because there is no need for it. Walls are somewhat thick and stained glass is out of style. An inner, shorter dome creates the ceiling to prevent vertigo in visitors. Ribbed and fanned vaulting also falls out of favour during this period.