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 Essential Architecture-  Florence

Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze


Filippo Brunelleschi  




1294-1442, neo-Gothic facade only dates from 1857-1863


Italian Gothic 




  West front with scaffolding
  The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church of Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza Santa Croce, to the east of the Duomo.

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Pazzi Chapel & First Cloister
Legend says that Santa Croce was founded by St Francis himself. The current church was probably begun in 1294, possibly by Arnolfo di Cambio, and paid for by some of the city's wealthiest families. It was consecrated in 1442 by Pope Eugene IV. The church is vast. Its most notable features are its sixteen chapels, many of them decorated with frescoes by Giotto and his pupils, and its funerary monuments. In 1560, the choir screen was removed and the interior rebuilt by Giorgio Vasari, who damaged the church's decoration in the process. The neo-Gothic facade only dates from 1857-1863. The campanile was built in 1842.

In the Primo Chiostro, the main cloister, is the Cappella dei Pazzi, built as the chapter house by Filippo Brunelleschi between 1442 and 1446 and finally completed in the 1470s. The Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce is housed mainly in the refectory, also off the cloister. A monument to Florence Nightingale stands in the cloister, in the city in which she was born and after which she was named. Brunelleschi also built the inner cloister, completed in 1453.

Today the former dormitory of the Franciscan Friars houses the Scuola del Cuoio (Leather School). Visitors can watch as artisans craft purses, wallets, and other leather goods which are sold in the adjacent shop.

Artists whose work is present in the church include:

Benedetto da Maiano (pulpit; doors to Cappella dei Pazzi, with his brother Giuliano) 
Antonio Canova (Alfieri's monument) 
Cimabue (Crucifixion, badly damaged by the 1966 flood and now in the refectory) 
Andrea della Robbia (altarpiece in Cappella Medici) 
Luca della Robbia (decoration of Cappella dei Pazzi) 
Desiderio da Settignano (Marsuppini's tomb; frieze in Cappella dei Pazzi) 
Donatello (relief of the Annunciation on the south wall; crucifix in the lefthand Cappella Bardi; St Louis of Toulouse in the refectory, originally made for the Orsanmichele) 
Agnolo Gaddi (frescoes in Cappella Castellani and chancel; stained glass in chancel) 
Taddeo Gaddi (frescoes in Cappella Baroncelli; Crucifixion in the sacristy; Last Supper in the refectory, considered his best work) 
Giotto (frescoes in Cappella Peruzzi and righthand Cappella Bardi; possibly Coronation of the Virgin, altarpiece in Cappella Baroncelli) 
Giovanni da Milano (frescoes in Cappella Rinuccini) 
Masso di Banco (frescoes in Cappella Bardi di Vernio) 
Henry Moore (statue of a warrior in the Primo Chiostro) 
Andrea Orcagna (frescoes largely disappeared during Vasari's remodelling, but some fragments remain in the refectory) 
Antonio Rossellino (relief of the Madonna del Latte in the south aisle) 
Bernardo Rossellino (Bruni's tomb) 
Santi di Tito (Supper at Emmaus and Resurrection, altarpieces in the north aisle) 
Giorgio Vasari (Michelangelo's tomb) 
Domenico Veneziano (SS John and Francis in the refectory) 

Funerary Monuments

Michelangelo's tomb
Michelangelo's tomb

Monuments in the church include those to:

Leon Battista Alberti (15th century architect and artistic theorist) 
Vittorio Alfieri (18th century poet and dramatist) 
Eugenio Barsanti (co-inventor of the internal combustion engine) 
Lorenzo Bartolini (19th century sculptor) 
Charlotte Bonaparte (daughter of Joseph Bonaparte) 
Leonardo Bruni (15th century chancellor of the Republic, scholar and historian) 
Dante (actually buried in Ravenna) 
Ugo Foscolo (19th century poet) 
Giovanni Gentile (20th century philosopher) 
Lorenzo Ghiberti 
Vittorio Ghiberti 
Niccolò Machiavelli 
Carlo Marsuppini (15th century chancellor of the Republic) 
Michelangelo Buonarroti 
Raffaello Morgheni (19th century engraver) 
Gioacchino Rossini 
Louise of Stolberg-Gedern (wife of Charles Edward Stuart)