Exterior of the Baptistery

Baptistery of San Giovanni

The Baptistery of San Giovanni, the oldest monument in the square, was considered for many centuries a pagan temple "converted" to Christian use.
In fact, already at the end of antiquity – in the XNUMXth or perhaps XNUMXth century – a primitive baptistery was built here opposite Santa Reparata, the cathedral of the time.

This first baptistery must have been similar to the current one also in the octagonal shape symbolizing “l' octava dies”, “the eighth day” – the time of the Risen Christ.

Starting from the middle of the XNUMXth century, the Baptistery was rebuilt in its current dimensions and enriched with precious marbles, many of which came from ancient buildings. In the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries the new structure was enlarged with the addition of the monumental dome and the "scarsella" (the rectangular apse to the west), becoming a source of citizen pride, so much so that Dante, with civic pride, called it the " beautiful St. John".
From 1300 to 1500 the three bronze doors and the sculptural groups above them were placed.
The oldest, the south door by Andrea Pisano, depicts the life of St. John the Baptist, titular of the Baptistery and patron saint of the city.
The north door, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, shows scenes from the life of Christ. By the same artist is the east door, called by Michelangelo "gate of Paradise", which represents scenes from the Old Testament.