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.
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.
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.
another beautiful church to visit in florence is san lorenzo, the church of the medici family. some highlights are, michelangelo's staircase, michelangelo's medici tombs, and donatello's pulpits. a couple of fine works of art are annigoni's "st. joseph and christ in the work shop", and bronzino's "martyrdom of st. lawerence". also, check out the cappella dei principi and it's beautiful marble floor.
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!
After the Duomo, San Lorenzo is the city's second most important church. Founded in the 4th century, the priginal church served as Florence's cathefral for 400 years. In the early 15th century it became the offical church of the Medici family and was entirely rebuilt, to designs by Filippo Brunelleschi. The facade remains unfinished to this day, despite various proposals, including one by Michelangelo.
The Cappelle Medicee, the family mausoleum of the Medici, consists of three distinct parks, the crypt, the Cappella dei Principi and Sagrestia Nuova. The end result was so spectacular that the Medici family used the chapel to receive foreign ambassadors and hold marriage cermonies.
In the square on a beautiful base, is the monument to Giovanni father of Cosimo I, by Bandinelli (1540), with the unusual figure of a seated general..
It's the first general church, begun by Brunelleschi in 1419 and finished by his pupil Manetti.
Interior is in the form of a Latin cross with a nave and two aisles and a wide transept with chapels along the walls..
Very interesting church. This was the first cathedral of Florence, built in the year 393 (!!), and kept this status until the 8th century, when it lost the title to Santa Reparata. In 1418-1419 the Medici family refurbished the basilica (actually making a new church in place of the Romanesque building) and added a chapel - now the most celebrated part of the church - the Medici Chapels (Cappelle Medicee). To this day nobody financed a facade - just look at the picture - I find it very interesting. Inside you can find the tombs of a very large part of the Medici family.
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.
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.
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