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Campanile di GiottoBy Anthony Parente
This was no ordinary bell tower. The Campanile's structure and design made this one of the great works of Italian architecture. The tower stands approximately 85 m (278 feet) high and only 15 m (49 feet) wide. Giotto's original design called for a spire to adorn the top of the tower, but Talenti amended the design and built a large projecting terrace. The spire would have made the tower approximately 122 m (400 ft.) tall. The materials used to make the Campanile include white marble from Carrara, green marble from Prato and red marble from Siena.
The exterior facade of the tower was adorned with many great works of art created by the Florentine masters of the 14th and 15th century. On the lower level, you will find a variety of hexagonal panels that depict the history of mankind. The second level has diamond shaped tiles with a blue majolica background. These tiles represent celestial and spiritual forces. The third level has 16 niches that were designed to contain life-size statues of prophets, sybils and other biblical figures. All of the tiles and sculptures have been replaced with replicas and the originals were moved to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Opera Duomo Museum). The top three levels each bigger than the last contain large windows, which allow light to pass through. Standing below and looking up the facade the top levels all look the same in size.
No bell tower would be complete without bells. The Campanile is no exception, as you will find seven bells as you ascend to the top of the tower. Each bell is named and they are: Annunziata (built in 1956), L'Assunta (built in 1956), Apostolica (built in 1957), Campanone (built in 1705), L'Immacolata (built in 1956), Mater Dei (built in 1956) and La Misericordia (built in 1830).
If you are looking for a spectacular view of the city than you may want to make the climb up the 414 steps to the terrace. Please note that the climb is not recommended for those suffering with claustrophobia, vertigo or heart problems. Once you get to the top, you will realize that it was worth it. What is great about the view from the Campanile is that you also get an up-close look at the dome of the Cathedral. Just note that if you are debating whether to climb the steps of the Dome instead of the Campanile you will need to go up 463 steps to get to the top of the Dome.
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