Near the end of the thirteenth century, the government that oversaw the Republic of Florence decided to replace their under-sized, rather plain Santa Reparata with a more majestic worshipping house. Architect Arnolfo di Cambio was asked to design the building sans dome. Residents of the Florentine Republic were to help finance the cathedral's construction, as a tax was added to all estates of the deceased. On September 8, 1296, Arnolfo di Cambio laid the first brick on the land where The Duomo now stands.
While di Cambio preferred to create structures in the popular Gothic style of the time, his basilica was a wonderful marriage of Gothic and classical styles. With trefoils (fleur-de-lis, to represent flowers of royalty) throughout and a high altar, the partial-completion of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Holy Mary of the Flowers) in 1302 was celebrated by all. The inside was decorated at this time with many statues, some created by Arnolfo di Cambio himself.
After di Cambio died in 1302, construction on the cathedral began to dwindle. In 1334 a new architect and construction manager were named – Giotto immediately took over and began to work on his favorite part of the cathedral, the bell tower. Just three years later, Giotto passed away and Andrea Pisano took over. But in 1348, a plague killed half of the city's population, and funds had to be spent on other priorities.
In 1349, the project fell under the supervision of Francesco Talenti. Under his watchful eye, the bell tower was completed, and Filippo Brunelleschi created plans for the Duomo ('dome'), often called the 'genius of the Renaissance'. Giovanni di Lapo Ghini took over the project from Talenti in 1360 and added two rectangular bays to the structure. Nearly 100 years after the original design, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was accepted as the new cathedral in Florence when Santa Reparata was demolished in 1375.
Construction of the dome in Florence (Firenze) spanned from 1420 to 1436 under Brunelleschi's direction.
In 1867, during the height of the Gothic Revival period, Emilio de Fabris designed and carried out the construction of the outer façade that is still in place today.