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.
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.
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.
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.
San Lorenzo was probably the largest market that I had the chance to go visit while in Italy. It reminds me a lot like the markets that you can find in Hong Kong in the streets.
Basically, it is a conglomerate of small vendors that have stalls out in the open market. You can find all sorts of Italian and non-Italian goods. Even in Italy you will find the markets inundated with goods from Asian suppliers or from other European countries. In the San Lorenzo market, they sell tons of leather goods (after all that is what Florence is known for), clothing, scarves, trinkets, glassware, papergoods, etc. If you are looking for it, you probably can find it there.
There were a few things that I really like that I found there. Some of the artisans that paint pictures of Florence sell their craft in the market. You can also find some of them near Pitti Palace if you get to wander over there. I also thought that the leather covered journal I got was a great deal. It was WAY more expensive in the regular shops...if you could even find one there!!!
I liked dealing with one particular vendor on the one corner of San Lorenzo market. You can't miss it. A Korean girl from Australia helps the owners run the stall. She is very engaging and pleasant to speak with. The owners even have a website : www.sanlorenzo-market.com. Anyway, no matter what you do, just check the market out...I am certain you will find something neat to take along home with you!!!
HOURS: Closed Sunday and Monday
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.
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.
Florence is famous for its history and Roman Art. Churches are most famous for their Roman style and art. If you have more time then you should visit as many Churches as you can and i am pretty sure that you will not feel bored or monotonous.
This lovely area recalls Florence in its prime, when Cosimo de' Medici was king and cultural creativity abounded. San Lorenzo Basilica was begun by Brunelleschi in 1425 and is regarded as one of the city's purest Renaissance churches.
The eastern façade is especially interesting, as it is sparsely decorated and reveals the antique brickwork. It was the Medici family's parish church, and many of the members of the family are buried here. Donatello designed the bronze pulpits, and he is buried in one of the chapels. Passing through the cloister, you reach the Laurenziana Library, commissioned to house the family's huge collection of books and featuring a sublime staircase by Michelangelo. The Medici Chapels are sumptuously decorated with precious marble and semiprecious stones; the most powerful Medicis were buried here. The New Sacristy was designed by Michelangelo and contains his Night and Day, Dawn and Dusk sculptures.
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.
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.
Initially, I thought I was at the Duomo when I found this cathedral. The inside dome was not all that spectacular compared to Brunelleschi's other works. this was designed for the Medici family in 1425-1446.
Okay, so they never got around to finishing the facade. Personally, that's what I like about it. Besides, who needs it with such a beautiful interior designed by Brunelleschi? You can't tell by looking at the outside, but inside you'll find intricate details and golden accents throughout. Brilliant!
San Lorenzo is surrounded by the biggest market in town. The plain outside hides a beautiful interior designed by Brunelleshi, along with two bronze pulpits designed by Donnatello. The church served as the city's cathedral for 3 centuries.