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 Church of San Lorenzo stands out from most of the other churches in Florence because it has an ugly, rough, unfinished exterior. Inside, the church is much more in harmony with the other churches of Florence. There are two alters done by Donatello. The church is next to the Medici Chapel and close to the Mercato Centrale and Duomo. Take the time to see this church if you view any of these other sights, but don't make a trip solely to see this church.
Open Mon-Sat 10-17:00
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.
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 by 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 light, 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.
This church was finished in 393 but was completely renewed by Brunelleschi in the 15th century. He managed to create a very special atmosphere by a great architectural spatiality and a mixture of the colours white and grey for the static elements. Though the interior is bright and plain, the structural and architectural elements give you the impression of great harmony and beauty, especially the marble floor.
The entry costs 2 Euro.
Consecrated by St. Ambrose in 393, it is the oldest church in the city. It was rebuilt in the Romanesque style in 1060. The present building dates to 1423 and was designed and built by Brunelleschi. The front facade was to be designed by Michelangelo but it never was accomplished. Once the parish church of the Medici family, becoming their mausoleum up to the time of the last of their family line. The interior has a nave separated from the side aisles by Corinthian columns and the ceiling is decorated with gilded rosettes. Many Renaissance namesakes have contributed to the magnificence of the San Lorenzo interior. The entrace to the Medici Chapel is from the outside and contains the tombs of the Medici family.
Dating back to the 4th century, it is the oldest church in Florence. The current Renaissance style church was built in the early 14th century by Brunelleschi. The facade of the church is unfinished because the Michelangelo designs were never completed. The stark facade is not indicative of the fabulous interior and masterpieces inside. Adjacent to the church is the Canons' Cloister and Biblioteca Mediceo-Laurenziana which house manuscripts collected by church elder Cosimo Medici.
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.
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.