Revealing the Secrets of Brunelleschi’s Dome

The dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, designed by innovative Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi and built in the 1420s-30s, has been a Florentine landmark and mystery for centuries.

The big unknown is exactly how Brunelleschi managed to construct a dome so enormous with an open center and without the use of a wooden support frame. Theories abound but have been difficult to confirm or refute because of the inability to examine the interior structure without destroying the priceless Renaissance paintings on its interior.

But now, after nearly 40 years of research into the nature and structure of the dome, including the recent use of a high-tech optical probe, professor Massimo Ricci is going to present his final conclusions to the public at a live-streaming conference taking part in the city of Florence, this week.

Send in your questions and watch the conference live Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 3pm ET (8pm UT).


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Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.