Just in front of the main entrance to the Duomo in Florence is the San Giovanni Baptistery, which the oldest building still standing in Florence. It is thought to be from the sixth or seventh century. The Baptistery is where Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise” originally hung for several centuries before being moved to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and replaced by a replica set.
No one was allowed into the Duomo before being baptized, so the Baptistery was right next door. Its mosaics, geometric designs and architectural style call to mind both Greek Orthodox Churches and Islamic art. The striped arches in the windows could have been built by the same people who built La Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain. Now Islam may not have even been around yet when the Baptistery was built, but the similarities in the art and architecture are further examples of cultural diffusion.
The ceiling of the San Giovanni Baptistery — made up of mosaics from the 13th Century
Above, one of the wonderful floor mosaicsAnother of the many floor mosaics