Four Famous Doors

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Although it is impossible to pinpoint when the first door was invented and by whom, we know that they have been used for thousands of years.  Originally, a door was a flap in a tent or shelter that was lifted up allowing residents to enter or exit as needed. 

As society advanced these primitive doors were abandoned as better ones were created.  Today a door serves as more than just a separation from inside and out.  All around the world there are beautiful doors that are more artwork than appliance. 

Florence Baptistery Doors

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In Florence Italy in 1401 a competition was announced to determine which artist would get commission of designing the east doors of the Florence Cathedral. The winner of this competition was 23-year-old Lorenzo Ghiberti.  Upon hearing the news Ghiberti set up a workshop nearby and got to work.  The artwork for the two doors was done on 28 brass panels, depicting detailed scenes from the New Testament.  Upon their completion the doors were placed on the north side of the cathedral instead of the east.  The scenes Ghiberti painted are commonly known as the “Gates of Paradise,” so named by Michelangelo.

Hagia Sophia

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The Marble Door located inside Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and it is another great work of art.  The Hagia Sophia itself has changed hands multiple times, going from an Orthodox Patriarchal Basilica to a Mosque and finally a museum.  Originally the door led to the south galleria, a special room used only by church officials.  Supposedly one side of the door represents paradise and the other hell. 

Coral Castle

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This amazing architectural feat was designed and constructed in Homestead Florida by Latvian Immigrant Edward Leedskalnin.  He supposedly built it as a tribute to his 16-year-old ex-fiancé back in Latvia. This beautiful work of art features multiple unique features all constructed out of coral, but perhaps the most intriguing is its entrance.  Leedskalnin designed a 9-tun revolving door.  Standing 92 inches tall, 80 inches wide, and 21 inches thick, this massive monolith is perfectly balanced, making it so easy to open that it can be done with the gentle push of a single finger.  No one knows how Leedskalnin constructed the monument by himself, and many rumors have circulated, including that he used an anti-gravity machine and that he unlocked the secret of the ancient Egyptions.

No. 10 Downing Street

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Although not a work of art as the previous three, the door leading into the home located at No. 10 Downing Street in London is one of the most famous doors in history.  It has served as a residence to the British Prime Minister since 1735 and has always been surrounded by controversy. Thus far 42 men and 1 woman have held the title and lived under its roof.  Many great and important decisions were made behind this door, which is always guarded by police and can only be opened from the inside.  Because of its mysterious appeal, this location attracts millions of visitors every year. 

Doors are interesting contraptions.  They can both keep people out and let them in.  In more recent years they have expanded beyond a simple flap or piece of wood with a locking mechanism into a work of art.  

Please feel free to contact Ella Gray with any questions at

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