- Type: Sightseeing
- Time to Spend: 1 to 2 hours
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The Battistero is the oldest building in the city, and according to Rough Guides, "no building better illustrates the special relationship between Florence and the Roman world." Although the current façade dates from the 11th century, historians have dated the Baptistery back to the 5th century. It hasn't been proven, but many say that this octagonal building was once a temple dedicated to Mars, the Roman god of war.
Today, this ancient building is a must-do for any art lover. Wake up early to beat the crowds, who flock to the Battistero in search of the Gates of Paradise. Designer Lorenzo Ghiberti's delicate depictions of Christ and other religious symbols on these massive doors inspired awe in even the most renowned artists, included Michelangelo, whose praise of the doors earned them their name. Inside the Baptistery, make sure to spend plenty of time looking up: the ceiling is covered with intricate frescoes.
The Baptistery sits near the Duomo in the Piazza San Giovanni. It is open to visitors Monday through Saturday from 12:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Entry is about $5 USD (€4). For more information, visit the Battistero section of the Duomo website.