When Michelangelo saw the east doors of Florence's Baptistry of St. John, he commented that they were fit to grace the entrance to paradise. Ghiberti's bronze masterpiece has been known as The Gates of Paradise ever since.

Created between 1425 and 1452, the Gates of Paradise were installed in a place of prominence in Florence's cherished baptistry, facing the magnificent cathedral opposite it. The ten main panels tell the great stories of the Old Testament.

After accumulating centuries of grime, the doors suffered major damage in the Arno River Flood of 1966. They were restored, removed from the baptistry, and replaced by copies. In 1980, a team of conservators and art historians began the 25 year process of conserving and studying the panels. In culmination of this project, three of the panels were exhibited in the United States in 2007-08 - the first and only time they traveled to the US. After the exhibition, the panels were permanently stored and displayed at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (the museum of the works of the cathedral), behind Florence's cathedral.

As you can see by rolling over the image on the left, the Gates of Paradise depict important stories from the Old Testament. Typical of the Renaissance style, each panel shows multiple moments in each story. Click on each panel, and explore the well-known stories depicted with magnificent gilded details.

Becky DiMattia • © 2007-2015 • beckydimattia.com