The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, known also as the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower, and simply the Duomo, is the largest cathedral in Florence. It has a free-standing campanile and had the largest dome built before the 19th century.
Although Arnolfo di Cambio designed the church in 1296, construction on the dome did not start until the beginning of the 15th century. Once Cambio had died, none of the architects at that time had any idea how to construct such an enormous structure, since the use of buttresses was forbidden in Florence and mortar took several days to set.
However, Filippo Brunelleschi, an architect who had lost an earlier bid to design the adjacent Baptistery doors, won a competition to build the dome, of which he outbid Lorenzo Ghiberti, the same artist that he had lost to before. Filippo also invented machines to hoist bricks needed for the dome up to the workers, and was able to construct the entire dome without using centering. Using over four million bricks, Brunelleschi and his workers completed the dome in 1436.
In addition, Filippo won a second commission to build the lantern atop the dome, though he died in 1446 before its completion; it was said that the lantern supposedly contained holy relics. In truth, these were the sarcophagus and belongings of the famed Assassin Iltani, who was responsible for the assassination of Alexander the Great.
In 1478, Lorenzo de' Medici and his brother, Giuliano, were attacked whilst attending High Mass, two years after Giovanni Auditore da Firenze's death marked the outbreak of the Pazzi conspiracy. Giovanni's son, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, was amongst the crowd observing the Medici procession, and intervened when the Pazzi conspirators attempted to murder Lorenzo and Giuliano.
While Giuliano was ultimately killed before Ezio could help, the Florentine noble was still able to assist Lorenzo fend off the conspirators, most notably an enraged Francesco de' Pazzi. After the conspirators fled, unsuccessful in their mission, Ezio helped to lead Lorenzo to the safety of his home, the Palazzo Medici.
Bonfire of the Vanities
In 1497, during the Bonfire of the Vanities, one of Girolamo Savonarola's lieutenants, a mesmerized priest, took to praying from the top of the basilica's dome. As the priest was transfixed in prayer, Ezio stealthily scaled the church and assassinated him.
- The church's peak was the tallest point in Assassin's Creed II, although it had to be scaled down for the game.
- The church's side-tower, the Campanile di Giotto, contained the tallest view point in Assassin's Creed II.
- Missing from in front of the main entrance to the church was the Battistero di San Giovanni, which was built several hundred years before the events of the game. According to lead writer Corey May, this was due to technical limitations brought about by the "many unique textures on the Duomo and [the] nearby bell tower."
- The facade was depicted as being partially incomplete, which was historically correct, though its design matched that of the current one, which was not built until the 19th century. The original facade was never completed, and was dismantled in 1587.
- A feather was located at the basilica's pinnacle height.
- The interior of the church was only accessible through entering the Assassin Tomb of Iltani.
- In Assassin's Creed: Embers, Ezio Auditore died of a heart attack in 1524, on a bench located just outside the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore.
- In Assassin's Creed: Renaissance, the attack on the Medici takes place in the cathedral itself instead of the plaza outside.