Construction of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore ("Saint Mary of the Flower") in Florence first got underway in 1296 under the direction of renowned architect and artist, Arnolfo di Cambio. The new Cathedral was built as a substitute (and in the same location) for the previous Church of Santa Reparata Martire ("Saint Reparata the Martyr"), which was no longer suited to hold Florence's increased population.
The current Duomo di Firenze ("Florence Cathedral") was constructed with the encouragement and financing of the city of Florence, and not of the Church. It is for this reason that its interior has been decorated with numerous works of art recalling lay persons rather than religious figures.
After the death of Arnolfo di Cambio, construction of the Cathedral continued under the direction of standout artists including Giotto (author of the renowned Campanile or "Bell Tower"), Francesco Talenti, and Giovanni di Lapo Ghini.
After a troubled competition without any claims to victory, Brunelleschi was entrusted with the construction of the Cathedral's enormous dome. Brunelleschi then completed the Cathedral in 1436, the same year of the its consecration, with a dedication to Santa Maria del Fiore ("Saint Mary of the Flower").
Despite the consecration ceremony and official opening for followers of the Cathedral, the structure had not yet been entirely completed.
It in fact remained bare for several hundred years until the 19th century, when Emilio De Fabris claimed victory in the relevant competition. De Fabris completed the facade (in 1887) with a project which faithfully reproduced the original style of the Campanile di Giotto ("Giotto's Bell Tower") and the sides of the Cathedral.