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 Essential Architecture-  Florence

San Lorenzo


Filippo Brunelleschi The New Sacristy, or Medici Chapel, was done starting 1520 by Michelangelo. 


Florence, Italy


1421 to 1440 


Italian Rennaisance





The Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St Lawrence) is one of the largest churches of Florence, Italy, situated at the centre of the city’s main market district. It was consecrated in 393 and is one of the many churches that claims to be the oldest in Florence. For three hundred years it was the city's cathedral before eventually losing the status to Santa Reparata. It was also the parish church of the Medici family. In 1419, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici offered to finance a new church to replace the Romanesque building. Brunelleschi was commissioned to design it. The Medicis gave large amounts of money, but to this day nobody has financed a façade. Pope Leo X, a member of the Medici family, had given Michelangelo the commission to design a facade in white Carrara marble in 1518. He made a wooden model, that shows how he adjusted the classical proportions of the facade, drawn to scale after the ideal proportions of the human body, to the greater height of the nave . The campanile dates from 1740.

The Renaissance interior is huge, cool and airy and is lined with chapels. Opening off the north transept is the domed Sagresta Vecchia (Old Sacristy), the oldest part of the present church, which contains the tombs of several members of the Medici family. It was the only part of the church completed in Brunelleschi's lifetime. Opposite it in the south transept is the Sagrestia Nuova (New Sacristy), begun in 1520 by Michelangelo, who also designed the Medici tombs within.

The most celebrated and grandest part of San Lorenzo is the Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapels) in the apse. The Medici were still paying for it when the last member of the family, Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, died in 1743. Almost fifty lesser members of the family are buried in the crypt, designed by Bernardo Buontalenti. Above is the Cappella dei Principi (Chapel of the Princes), begun in 1604, a great domed octagonal hall where the grand dukes themselves are buried. At its centre was supposed to be the Holy Sepulchre itself, although attempts to buy and then steal it from Jerusalem failed.

Works of Art
Bronzino (fresco of The Martyrdom of St Lawrence in the north aisle) 
Desiderio da Settignano (Pala del Sacramento, tabernacle in the south aisle) 
Donatello (two bronze pulpits, his last works; frieze, reliefs, tondi and bronze doors in the Sagrestia Vecchia) 
Antonio del Pollaiuolo (wooden crucifix in the south transept chapel) 
Fra Filippo Lippi (altarpiece of the Annunciation in the north transept chapel) 
Rosso Fiorentino (Marriage of the Virgin in one of the south aisle chapels) 
Verrocchio (tomb of Giovanni and Piero de Medici in the Sagrestia Vecchia) 

Funerary Monuments
Bernardo Cennini (goldsmith and printer) (south transept) 
Donatello (north transept) 
Francesco Landini (south aisle) 
Niccolò Martelli (north transept) 
Cosimo de' Medici (in front of the high altar) 
Cosimo I de' Medici (Cappella dei Principi) 
Cosimo II de' Medici (Cappella dei Principi) 
Cosimo III de' Medici (Cappella dei Principi) 
Ferdinando I de' Medici (Cappella dei Principi) 
Ferdinando II de' Medici (Cappella dei Principi) 
Ferdinando III de' Medici (crypt) 
Francesco I de' Medici (Cappella dei Principi) 
Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici (Sagrestia Vecchia) 
Giovanni di Cosimo de' Medici (Sagrestia Vecchia) 
Giuliano di Lorenzo de' Medici (Sagrestia Nuova) 
Giuliano di Piero de' Medici (Sagrestia Nuova) 
Lorenzo I de' Medici (Sagrestia Nuova) 
Lorenzo II de' Medici (Sagrestia Nuova) 
Piero di Cosimo de' Medici (Sagrestia Vecchia)