Even in an age of skyscrapers and sports stadiums, the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, with its immense terracotta-tiled dome, retains a rare power to astonish. Yet, for more than a century after work began on the cathedral in 1296, the proposed dome was regarded as impossible to build. It became the greatest architectural puzzle of the age, and when finally complete in 1436, was hailed as one of the wonders of the world. To this day, it remains the largest masonry dome ever constructed. Ross King tells the full story of how the cupola was raised, from its conception to its consecration. Also told is the story of the dome's architect, the brilliant and volatile Filippo Brunelleschi. His ambition, ingenuity and rivalries are set in the context of the plagues, wars and political feuds of Renaissance Florence.