San Lorenzo, Florence
San Lorenzo is connected to the Medici Chapels but has a separate entry fee and access door.
This is at least the third version of a church built on this site. The original was built in the 4th century with a second restructure occurring in the 11th and again in the 15th. It was to feature a collection of chapels bestowed upon the most influential families of Florence at the time but the Medici - who had a palace nearby and whom also commissioned the overhaul - eventually determined that it should be primarily a dynastic mausoleum for their noble descendants. Giovanni di Bicci de’Medici, patriarch of the family which was to become the most wealthy and powerful influence in Florence for nearly 300 years, engaged Filippo Brunelleschi to design the new church and an adjoining burial chapel. The great architect, with contributions from Donatello, was able to finish the smaller space but died before constructing much of the basilica itself. Work stuttered along for another 50 years under the hands and plans of several other architects before finally being completed in the late 1400’s.
The facade, entrusted to Michelangelo in 1518, was never realized so the rough exterior betrays an airy, uncluttered Renaissance beauty behind its doors. Gionvanni and his wife rest under a table tomb in what’s known as the Old Sacristy, and a large marker in front of the high alter marks the burial place in the crypt below of his son, Cosimo the Elder. Donatello’s monument is nearby in the north transept: see his bronze doors, reliefs and other details in the sacristy, and fantastic pair of bronze pulpits in the basilica.
Photography is not allowed inside but this website has some very nice shots of the church:
The website below is the best I can find for checking current entry fees and hours but Italian websites aren't always religiously updated so expect anything to change without notice.
The church of San Lorenzo is the oldest in the city, consecrated by San Ambroggio in 393. It was rebuilt along Romanesque lines in 1060. The present building, however, dates from 1423 and was designed by great Brunelleschi. The simple bare facade lasks the marble covering, designed by Michelangelo but never carried out. The internal facade, also designed by Michelangelo, is comprised of three doors between two pilasters with garlands of oak and laurel, and a balcony on two corinthian columns. There are number of outstanding works of art inside the church by Filippo Lippi, Donatello, Andrea del Verrochio and many others. The most valuable, however, is the Old Sacristy built by Brunelleschi between 1419 and 1428. It was built before the church and is the first example of Renaissance architecture of Brunelleschi.
The huge complex of Medici Chapels, containing the Medici family tombs, is attached to the back of the church. The interior is octagonal in plan, entirely lined with semiprecious stone and marble in Baroque style.
Construction of this church originally designed by Brunelleschi began in the early 1420s and it was to last throughout most of the 15th century. One of the major problems encountered was the lack of funding but in 1442 the Medici family decided to finance the construction of San Lorenzo since the church was located in their parish. The special connection between the Medici and San Lorenzo turned out to be a lasting one since several members of the family are buried in what has become known as the Medici chapel.
One thing that is rather striking about San Lorenzo is that its facade is completely bare. Michelangelo did submit a design, but for some reason the work never got done. There's been talk in recent years of finishing the facade according to Michelangelo's plans, but no decision has yet been made. The church itself is often described as an early model of Renaissance architecture that is believed to have inspired many artists who later on refined and perfected the style.
The church of San Lorenzo is another one of those cases in Florence where you need to buy multiple tickets if you want to see the entire complex. The one we bought gave us access to the church itself, since that's what we were most interested in, but we didn't find out until we were already inside that it didn't give us access to the Medici chapel, which was pretty disappointing, nor could we see Michelangelo's famous staircase leading to the Laurentian Library. In any case, we did get to see the cloisters, the crypt and the church. San Lorenzo's elongated nave is rather sober in style, but the church does hold some remarkable paintings as well as several tombs of the Medici, including some beautiful ones designed by Donatello.
The Market that surrounds San Lorenzo is a hoot during the day when it is jammed with people. I think it is great for people watching.
I love to get up early and that led to my next tip.
I recommend you get a café and a little bread or sweetie and head down to watch the vendors set up. The old city is at it’s sweetest in the cool of morning. The air is clear and calm. The vendors do not have their game face on and are just working and having fun.
The banter is outrageous. The crowds of people are missing and you get that rare glimpse of Florentine vendors just being themselves. It is a great way to experience Florence not just collect sights on a list. This type of thing that is most memorable for me when I return home. I hope it will be for you too.
Billed as the official parish church of the Medicis, San Lorenzo seemed very promising in the beginning, but failed to deliver. Sure the church's treasures are there like the Capelle Medicee (which is accessible through reservations only), the pulpits by Donatello, the Biblioteca and the Old Sacristy designed by Brunesllechi and decorated by Donatello - but many of these were close to the public at the time of my visit (except for the Capelle Medicee which could be visited through reservations, I concede). Add to these are the unwelcoming and unfriendly staff (they seem to despise tourists here especially those with cameras hanging over their necks!) and you've got a perfect recipe for an unpleasant experience.
It's advisable to skip this unwelcoming church; time (as well as money) is better spent in Sta Croce.
San Lorenzo Market is the place to be for Leather. You can bargain at the outdoor market, and get some deals. They have a huge selection of Jackets, belts and leather goods. The market does have, unfortunately, some fake products made by Chinese and then stamped "Florence" so choose wisely. It's not too difficult to tell when something is made in China. Look for quality and look for the details: the lining, the finishing, the accessories. If you are looking for the AUTHENTIC Italian real deal- go to Monom for bags and accessories. It's on Via Borgo la Noce 15r next to the San Lorenzo Market. It's near the famous restaurant Za-Za. Have lunch at Za-Za and then stop to see the beautiful, one-of-a-kind, latest Florentine fashion bags and purses. They have a large selection and even give some discounts. If you are a student, you will get a 20% discount. Go check it out!
The Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St Lawrence) - consecrated by St. Ambrose in 393, it is the oldest church in the city.
Inside there are works by Rosso Fiorentino, Desiderio da Settignano, Donatello and Bronzino.The church is flanked by the splendid square-shaped Old Sacristy by Brunelleschi and the New Sacristy by Michelangelo, that houses the Medici family tombs, the so called Medici Chapels. To the left of the church is the Laurentian Library, also designed by Michelangelo, by order of the Medici family who wanted a place to conserve their fine collection of books, papyri and manuscripts. Not far from the San Lorenzo complex is the Central Market, a fine example of late 19th century steel and glass architecture.
I'll let this tip be limited to the market of San Lorenzo. . .although the church is amazing as well. On my first trip to Florence, this market was one of my favorite places, when I lived there, we walked through infrequently and actually often walked behind the stalls to avoid the hassle. This past spring, I found myself almost disliking the market. . .
Positives: It's a great place to find souveniers and gifts at reasonable prices. There's a lot of selection and a lot of competition, so if you keep looking, you may find the same scarf, wallet, etc. at a lower price.
Negatives: It's loud and the vendors can be pushy. The default language is English, and I felt like I could be anywhere in the world.
Summary? I'll go there when I need a good gift, but it's not my favorite Florentine experience.
Not far from the Duomo is the Medici family's parish church of San Lorenzo, founded way back in the 4th century, although most of the current building, designed by Brunelleschi, dates from 1425.
Among the highlights are a chapel constructed by Michelangelo, some magnificent sculptures by the same artist made for the tombs of Giuliano and Lorenzo, and two striking bronze pulpits by Donatello.
There's also a stunning staircase by Michelangelo in the adjacent Laurenziana Library.
A magnificent old book from the collection of the Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana. I was very pleased with the fact that old books can be photographed quite easily in Italy, we noticed this in other towns and places too. Pictured is the 'Triumph of Chastity', who makes her grand entrance on a cart pulled by a unicorn.
La Chiesa di San Firenze was constructed in the latter half of the 17th century and the beginning of he the 18th century and was commissioned by the Oratorian Fathers. The Baroque façade of the building (its current façade) was finally added in 1775. The left flank of the building was a chapel dedicated to St. Philip Neri. The right flank was supposed to be the church of San Firenze, but this was then downgraded to an oratory and, when the two buildings were joined, the entire complex was referred to, erroneously, as Chiesa di San Firenze. Today, most of the building is used as a courts.
Basilica di San Lorenzo is the oldest church in the city, although it was rebuilt several times.
The interior of this church was completed by Brunelleschi and later by Michelangelo. But, the façade is still not finished.
There are some works of art inside: the two pulpits built by Donatello when he was already 74 years old, The Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana and the Tombe Medicee, works by Michelangelo, the Cappella dei Principi chapel with its magnificent decorations in marble and semi-precious stones.
It is one of the largest churches of Florence, Italy, situated at the centre of the city's main market district, and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III. It is one of several churches that claim to be the oldest in Florence. For three hundred years it was the city's cathedral before the official seat of the bishop was transferred to Santa Reparata. San Lorenzo was also the parish church of the Medici family. The church is part of a larger monastic complex that contains other important architectural works: the Old Sacristy by Brunelleschi; the Laurentian Library by Michelangelo; the New Sacristy based on Michelangelo's designs; and the Medici Chapels by Matteo Nigetti.
S.Lorenzo contains masterpieces by Donatello, including the sarcophagus of the Martelli family, and the two bronze pulpits. The sarcophagus, in the form of a wickerwork basket, was commissioned by Roberto Martelli around 1464, for the family chapel located between the left transept and the nave.The arches were mounted on columns and set up on either side of the nave, near the transept, where they are still to be seen. The sculptures forming the left-hand pulpit represent scenes from the Passion and Death of Christ. The right-hand pulpit shows in a single scene, divided by symbolic doorways, the Descent into Hell, the Resurrection and the Ascension. The cycle is completed by individual panels showing the Maries at the Tomb and the Martyrdom of St Laurence. Among the numerous paintings that adorn the altars and chapels of the church, tempering with their bright colors the austere whites and greys of the architecture, we notice unusual iconographical features in the Annunciation in the Martelli chapel, painted by Filippo Lippi around 1420. The small square-planned building, surmounted by a hemispherical dome, in a synthetic and effective expression of the early-renaissance aesthetic. It has a scarsella or miniature apse, also squarred-planned and vaulted. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and finished in 1428. The sculptural decoration was, for the most part, executed by Donatello between 1428 and 1432. The string-course cornice has a frieze with alternating cherubim and seraphim of polychrome terracotta in red, blue and gold. The roundels in the sprandels of the cupola have scenes from the Life of St John the Evangelist, done in a vey low relief, in stucco painted in pale tones of cream, brick-red and blue. Donatello completed the decoration above the string-course cornice with four roundels placed in the lunettes, showing the Four Evangelists, also in polychrome stucco, but in more traditional style with brighter colors and higher relief.
The Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St Lawrence) is one of the largest churches of Florence 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 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 New Sacristy begun in 1520 by Michelangelo, who also designed the Medici tombs within.
We can however recognise at San Lorenzo all the elements of renaissance architecture, that are here employed for the first time in a large-scale religious building. We enter an architectural space conceived in the modern manner, with total legibility of construction.
The legibility of the architectural space, based on the alternation of grey and white, the mathematical and geometrical proportions between the various portions of the building, and the diffused lighting which creates no areas of deep shadow, confer on the architectural space of S. Lorenzo and exceptional harmonious beauty.