The Santa Croce Basilica is a church on the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence. The church is not only packed with works of art but also houses the remains of none other than Michelangelo. There are frescoes by Giotto and father and son Gaddi, among others and more tombs of famous people, such as Machiavelli.
Santa Croce Basilica Florence
Address, opening hours and admission
Entrance fee: 8 Euro. Opening hours: From 10.00 to 12.30 and from 15.00 to 17.00 hours. Address: Piazza di Santa Croce, 16 – 50122 Florence, Italy. Telephone: +39 0552466105. There is a wheelchair available for visitors.
History and description
Construction of the church started in 1294, when the Franciscans wanted to emulate the Domenicans, who had started the construction of the Santa Maria Novella Church.
The architect was probably Arnolfo di Cambio.
The stained glass windows were added in the 14th century.
The church was consecrated in 1442, but it was not until 1857 that Cronaca added a real façade.
The bell tower is even more recent and was designed by Baccani in 1847. An earlier tower had collapsed in 1512. Baccio Bandinelli had made an earlier design, but this had not been executed. Both for the 80 metre tall bell tower and for the church itself a yellowish kind of stone called pietraforte was used.
The interior consists of three naves.
When Michelangelo Buonarroti died (1564), the Pope actually wanted him buried in Rome, but the Florentines secretly took him back to their own city. Michelangelo‘s tomb was made by Vasari in 1570.
Apart from Michelangelo there are more famous Florentines buried in the church. There are monuments in memory of Niccolò Machiavelli, the composer Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) and the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti, as well as a cenotaph in honor of Dante Alighieri. Vicenzo Viviani made the tomb of Galileo Galilei in 1737.
A number of rich Florentines also have their final resting place in the Santa Croce Basilica. They owe this privilege to the donations they had made to the church over the years.
The tomb of Alfieri was made by Canova in 1810.
Thanks to the many famous people who are buried there, the church was given the nickname Tempio dell’Itale Glorie.
The two chapels to the right of the Main Altar (the Cappella Peruzzi and the Cappella Bardi) were decorated by Giotto. After having been whitewashed in the 17th century, these frescoes were, rather badly, restored between 1841 and 1852.
The Peruzzi Chapel is the name of the right chapel, with many references to antiquity. It was painted late, after Giotto‘s stay in Rome, and is in a fairly poor condition.
The Bardi Chapel is more famous. “The Death of Saint Francis” and the “Fire Test for the Sultan of Egypt” are among Giotto‘s most famous works.
More famous chapels
The Cappella Castellani is decorated with frescoes by Agnolo Gaddi. These show important events from a number of saint’s lives. There is also a tabernacle by Mino da Fiesole and a “Crucifix” by Niccolò Gerini.
The Cappella Baroncelli is painted by Taddeo Gaddi (the father of Agnolo) with frescoes from “The Life of the Virgin”. The “Announcement of the Shepherds” in this chapel is the first nocturnal image in an Italian wall painting.
The “Tabernacle of the Cavalcanti Announcement” is a relief made by Donatello (1435).
The Cappella Pazzi is located outside in the cloister and was designed by Brunelleschi. Although not finished when he died, his drawings for the chapel were copied exactly. The glazed terracottas in the gate to the chapel were designed by Giuliano da Maiano and made by Luca della Robbia. On the ceiling of the smaller dome the night sky is painted, at exactly the same time as on the ceiling of the Old Sacristy in the San Lorenzo Church.
Through the cloister you reach the Museo dell’Opera. The “Crucifix” made by Cimabue was almost destroyed during the flooding of the Arno in 1966 and would become a symbol of the damage caused by this disaster.
In the Museo dell’Opera there are also two frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi: “Tree of Life” and “Last Supper”.