Situated just west of the Duomo Cathedral, the Florence Baptistery of St. John (Battistero di San Giovanni) is one of the oldest structures in Florence. Its iconic octagonal structure dates back to ancient Rome, while its 16th-century bronze doors—sculpted by Lorenzo Ghiberti—were dubbed the Gates of Paradise by Michelangelo himself.
As two of Florence’s most popular destinations, the Baptistery and adjacent Duomo Cathedral are a stop on most city walking tours, which typically offer skip-the-line access, as do some Segway tours. Food, architecture, Dan Brown, Dante, and other themed tours often include a stop to observe the Baptistery’s marble exterior. If visiting independently, to avoid the hassle of purchasing separate tickets, a Duomo Complex pass includes an admission ticket to the Baptistery. The Baptistery is also featured on the Firenze Card, which grants 72-hour access to top Florence landmarks and museums including the Accademia and Uffizi Galleries, Pitti Palace, Dante’s House, and Belvedere Fort.
Segway and walking tours allow you to explore Florence’s top landmarks—including the Baptistery and Duomo as well as the Accademia and Uffizi Galleries, Ponte Vecchio, and Piazza Santa Croce—without the hassle of navigating on your own. While small-group walking tours offer a personal experience, private tours ensure your guide’s full attention and enable you to visit the Baptistery as part of your customized itinerary.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Baptistery is a must for all first-time visitors to Florence, especially history and architecture buffs.
- Restrooms are located in the adjacent Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
- Download the Firenze Turismo app to access maps, cultural event calendars, and tourist information.
How to Get There
The centrally located Baptistery is in Piazza San Giovanni, just steps from the Duomo. If arriving by taxi, simply provide the Duomo as your destination. It’s easily accessible using the city’s bus system: nearest stops are Santa Maria Maggiore on bus 22 and Vecchietti on bus 6.
When to Get There
The Baptistery is open from 8:15am to 10:15am and 11:15am to 7:30pm on weekdays, and 8:30am to 1:30pm on weekends. Expect longer entrance lines on weekends and at midday on weekdays. For a quieter visit, go on a weekday morning. The annual folk tradition of Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Cart) takes place outside the Baptistery on Easter, when crowds flock to the square to watch an elaborate wooden cart light up with fireworks. On June 24 the city honors its patron saint, St. John the Baptist, with a cultural festival in Piazza San Giovanni.
The Gates of Paradise
It took Lorenzo Ghiberti 21 years to complete the Baptistery di San Giovanni’s detailed bronze and gold doors. After winning a fierce competition in 1401 against renowned sculptor Filippo Brunelleschi, Ghiberti sculpted the Baptistery’s North and East doors, which are now preserved and on display in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. The doors’ design and execution were met with such success that Michelangelo himself dubbed them the Gates of Paradise.