The beautiful Basilica di Santa Croce holds pride of place in Piazza Santa Croce.
It's facade is made from some more of that stunning multi-colour marble that was used on the Duomo.
The inside is grand and lavishly decorated, and the floor is covered with tombstones of famous Florentines.
This church is yet another example of the beauty that Florence has to offer!
Santa Croce was one of four major building projects that occurred in the 1300s and is the largest Franciscan basilica in the world. Inside are some fabulous Renaissance art works as well as the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Ghiberti and Machiavelli. It was built in what was considered back then the poor side of town, which was just where the Franciscans wanted to be. As you enter the church you notice the timber roof in keeping with these humble beginnings. It is a Gothic style building – notice the pointed arches inside? And there are many monuments and side altars as well as frescoes to beautify the building.
As you enter through the doors, one of the first monuments you come to is a memorial to Galileo on your left. Notice the sculptures have symbols of his work in astronomy. But (and I was surprised to learn this…) this is NOT Galileo’s tomb. He is buried nearby, but not here –he fell out of favor with the church and was not permitted to be buried in the sacred part of the church. We’ll see his tomb later in the tour once we leave the church part of the building.
On the opposite wall from Galileo’s monument is the tomb of Florence’s favorite son – Michelangelo. This tomb was created by Vasari and wasn’t exactly what Michelangelo probably had in mind. It is said that his Pieta (seen in the Cathedral Museum) was meant for his own tomb, but obviously that didn’t happen. There is a bust of Michelangelo and a fresco above that refers to his final Pieta. The three females in front are allegories to Michelangelo’s work as a sculptor, painter, and poetry (you thought I’d say architect, right? He was actually a very good writer and poet too!). Michelangelo always considered himself a sculptor primarily so I was happy to see that his tomb lists him as that first.
Near Michelangelo’s tomb is a monument to the writer Dante, although he is actually buried in Ravenna. This monument is followed by Niccolò Machiavelli’s tomb, famous for his book The Prince which used Florence as his model.
After Machiavelli is an early Annunciation by Donatello which was done before his David. This is very classic in its style – see how Mary looks almost like a Roman girl?
Bruni’s tomb (comes after the Donatello) is what some people consider to be the most perfect Renaissance tomb and was influential in the styling of future tombs and memorials. It is a mix uniting Catholic and classic elements and was sculpted by Rosselino.
In Santa Maria Novella, there is a crucifix by Brunelleschi that was the result of a personal competition between he and Donatello – both trying to see who could create the most human looking Christ on the cross. Here in Santa Croce is the Donatello entry – it can be found in the chapel to the far left of the altar (when you are looking at the altar). This was the one that lost the competition – it was deemed to look too much like a peasant – even Donatello admitted defeat and praised Brunelleschi for his work.
Note all the scaffolding around the altar area – they are restoring the stained glass windows. There is a video in the museum (later in the tour) that will show you want the windows look like.
Walk past the altar and look at the two chapels to the immediate right of the altar. The first one has frescoes by Giotto and shows scenes from the life of St. Francis (it is a Franciscan church). Chapel #2 has scenes from the life of St. John by Gaddi.
At the far end of the right side of the altar is a side chapel with frescoes showing the life of Mary painted by Taddeo Gaddi, a follower of Giotto.
Next to this altar is a side door where you can leave the church and enter the Sacristy (where they would prepare the elements of the Mass). Notice the same scenes from the Bardi Chapel in this room? There are lots of wood cabinets in this room that are beautiful and hold objects of interest, particularly a part of St. Francis’ robe and belt.
Leave the Sacristy through the bookstore and head to the small Medici chapel – it is a very simple room with pews and a plain altar. You can tell the Medici were the patrons by their coat of arms in the windows. However, the most interesting thing in this room is the small closet to the left of the altar. That is the actual tomb of Galileo! He couldn’t be buried in the church proper, but is on the church grounds.
As you exit the chapel and are in the hallway heading towards the museum, notice the old photos of Santa Croce from the 1966 flood – very interesting!
Before you leave the cloister area, there are bathrooms near the exit (just in case!).
Open weekdays: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Holidays: 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Closed on: December 25 and 26, January 1, Easter, June 13, October 4.
Admission: €5 - Combined ticket S. Croce- Museum S. Croce - Pazzi Chapel
Before you leave the grounds of Santa Croce, be sure to head out to the cloisters for a visit to the Pazzi Chapel and Museum of Santa Croce for more great Renaissance art and architecture.
The beautiful Santa Croce and its namesake piazza, lie in the eastern part of the city centre, north of the River Arno.
It was started in 1294, and contains must-see 14th century frescoes by Giotto and Gaddi (his later pupil). It is also famed for containing tombs and monuments, of such names as MICHAELANGELO (on the right as you enter: 1570) , GALILEO (on the left), BRUNI (the large tomb at the end on the right), and MACHIAVELLI (mid-way down on the right).
Whilst in the pituresque cloister alongside the church, stands the Cappella de' Pazzi ( a Renaissance masterpiece by Brunelleschi).
The Basilica, Museo, Cloister and Cappella de' Pazzi are all open 10.30am-5.30pm mon-sat, and sundays 3-5.30pm. They close earlier in the off-season months.
The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is ones of Florence’s largest churches with many separate altars and chapels (16 of them). It is an example of true Gothic - huge and airy. It is also the largest Franciscan church in the world.
There are a series of tombs in the aisles and Michelangelo’s tomb is here, as well as a statue that looks like it was the “original” Statue of Liberty. One of my favorite pieces in the church was a simple and beautiful statue of Mary with a gold halo.
Outside is the cloister walk ("Cloisters of Serenity"). It's lined with 19th century monuments and leads to Cappella de' Pazzi.
Even though the Basilica was under renovation while we were there, it was still a beautiful church and definitely one of my favorite sites in Florence. Out front on the Piazza di Santa Croce are food stands, street performers, etc. I particularly liked the statue of Dante in the Piazza. Definitely worth a visit!
Special Tip - if you are in Florence during the Christmas season, be sure to visit Santa Croce for the nativity scenes inside - including live animals!
Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30am-5:30pm; Sun 1-5:30pm
Cost: Admission 4€
Photography: Permitted with no flash.
Please note that all visitor information is correct as of this writing.
The Santa Croce Basilica is also known as the "Temple of the Italian Glories", in reference to the many illustrious Italians who have been buried in its crypt. Construction of the basilica began in 1294 and it was consecrated by the pope in 1442. The tombs of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo and Rossini, just to name a few, can be found at Santa Croce. There is also a cenotaph dedicated to Dante Alighieri, the Florentinian poet who was sent into exile and died and is buried in Ravenna (despite some attempts to bring his body back to Florence). Most visitors come to see the numerous funeral monuments, but some important works of art can also be found in the basilica's 16 chapels and in the refectory. Perhaps one of the most famous pieces is Cimabue's Crucifix, which was badly damaged during the 1966 flood that hit the city of Florence, but is still on display in the refectory. The basilica's cloisters are also open to the public.
Although not as popular as some of the other piazze, I thought the architecture around Piazza Santa Croce was more interesting than what you find elsewhere in the city; in fact, the lower painted buildings were more in line with what I saw in Siena and Lucca, for example. It's also interesting to know that Piazza Santa Croce is known as the birthplace of "Calcio Fiorentino", an early form of football that is still played every year in June on the piazza.
Admission to the Santa Croce Basilica is 5 Euros.
Now and then I wish that I had discovered this fantastic travel-site earlier... Then I hadn't had the feeling that I was at Santa Croce, without knowing what was there...
Sure, I thought it was an amazing church, almost like the Duomo of Florence, and the espresso at the café right over the piazza was also really good. But...
... I missed all the good stuff.
Because Santa Croce isn't just "another" beautiful church. Inside (where I didn't go, of course - stupid me) are the tombs of great persons as Michelangelo, Galileo and many many more. According to other sites here at Virtual Tourist the whole floor is crowded with tombstones.
Mm, doesn't feels that nice to walk around over tombstones, but...?
The basilica was built 1294, and rebuilt 1966 after the floods came over Florence.
Next time, for sure, I'll stay a bit longer. Maybe skip the espresso, and definately go inside...
I advice you to do the same, although, as I said, the espresso was really good, so you maybe should take your time for that too...? ;)
Another really good thing with this piazza is that it isn't "that" crowded with people. Not as the Duomo anyway. You could actually sit down for a couple of minutes, without feeling stressed to death.
The Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan church in Florence. The original construction of this church started in 1295 by architect Arnolfo di Cambio and completed in 1442. Inside, you’ll find small side-chapels dedicated to families like the Peruzzis who frequented the church in its early days. The walls of these chapels and the entire church are covered in elaborate frescoes by Giotto and his students. One of the largest draws of this particular church are its tomb; those of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Galileo Galilei and Dante Alighieri. I must admit, I had little knowledge of the Santa Croce when I first visited and, as an English teacher, was starstruck by the tomb of Dante.
Outside the church, in the Piazza Santa Croce, visitors will find various tourist shops and stands, local artisans and plenty of restaurants. The piazza and church are in walking distance to other major Florence site like the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo.
In many other cities in the world Santa Croce would be the main church, but Florence is not like many other cities. It is a huge church, with many smaller chapels added to it.The most famous parts in the church are the tomb stones of Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei.
I thought the windows were beautiful, as were the many paintings and frescoes. The Bardi chapel was the chapel I enjoyed most, this could be a museum in its own right.
Entrance fee was 5 Euro a person.
The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan [church]] in Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 metres south east of the Duomo. The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Donatello, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile, Rossini, Marconi and Fermi, thus it is known also as the Pantheon of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie or Pantheon dell'Itale Glorie.
This is one of the most splendid sites of Florence, where it is pleasant to stop and sit on the large and comfortable benches, to consult a guidebook, read the newspaper or simply observe the light of day as it plays on the facade of Santa Croce
Santa Croce was an unexpected highlight of our trip to Florence. You don't really get a sense of how important this city is to the world until you see the tombs of some of the most influential people who ever lived. Dante, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo, and many more. It's a sombre and respectful atmosphere (it's a church afterall).
One of things not to be missed are the extravagant paintings on the ceilings. Artists and architects designed their spaces to be full of art and detail, so remember to look around and absorb it all. Many tourists miss this which is a shame.
Hotel David Florence
7 Reviews and 1151 Opinions We have stayed with this establishment many times. Initially, it was because they have free parking...
Rapallo Hotel Florence
4 Reviews and 177 Opinions I spent 4 days in hotel Rapallo in February, a very cheap budget hotel I found on the Internet. I...
Grand Hotel Florence Florence
2 Reviews and 366 Opinions We didn't have to pay because we were using Frequent Travelor points. This was a 5-star hotel, and...