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!
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.
....perhaps the greatest artist the world has ever known! In Santa Croce you will find the tomb of Michaelangelo. You will also find the eternal resting places of Machiavelli, Galileo, Ghiberti, Rossini....
How amazed and humbled are you when you stand at the foot of these tombs? For me it was indeed an incredible moment. So much genius.....
If you have time to see only one church, skip the Duomo (much more impressive on the outside than in) and make a beeline for this one. Santa Croce is a magnificent Medieval-Gothic basilica and the largest Franciscan church in the world. Built in the late 13th/early 14th century, its many outstanding features include tragically damaged but still remarkable frescoes. Renaissance-era citizens were largely illiterate so the churches made liberal use of the fresco as a teaching tool to illustrate bible stories and miraculous lives/gory martyrdoms of the saints. These were executed by some of the finest painters of the day - Giotto, Fra Angelico, Lippi, Sarto, and others - who were commissioned by both clergy and wealthy citizens to decorate public spaces and family burial chapels. Many of these were sadly plastered or whitewashed over in the 1600’s to accommodate the more dramatic, strongly dimensional art and architecture of the Baroque era.
Restoration has freed enough of Santa Croce’s fragile works from their blanket of paint so you can admire Giotto’s dabblings in the Bardri chapel, Gaddi’s in the refectory, etc. and get a good feeling for how the church would have looked in the 1300’s. Additional highlights include some beautiful Della Robbia enamels, Donatello’s “Annunciation” and crucifix, and tombs of/monuments to Niccolo Machiavelli, Dante, Guglielmo Marconi, Florence Nightingale, Dante and Michelangelo.
Interesting notes about the latter two: Michelangelo died in Rome and to ensure that he would be buried in Florence, as was his wish, the body was spirited away in the dead of night to escape the clutches of a Pope who had other ideas. Galileo, who spent the last nine years of his life under house arrest for heresy (“Yep, folks, Copernicus was right.") had his remains unceremoniously consigned to an unmarked grave in a back room of the basilica. Almost 100 years later, his bones (except for a couple of fingers) were finally allowed a dignified burial in the church proper but the great astronomer wouldn’t be completely exonerated of his ‘crimes’ in until 1992.
This website below has some good information and outstanding photos of the church:
Good things to know:
• There is an entrance fee and it’s not covered by the Friends of the Uffizi or Firenze cards: see the website
• Open Monday - Saturday from 9:30 to 17:00, and 13:00 to 17:00 on Sundays and Holy Days (see website).
• Closed New Year's Day (January 1), Easter, St. Anthony (June 13), St. Francis (4 October), Christmas (December 25), Boxing Day (December 26).
• No cell phone use , flash/tripods, or loud conversation allowed, and mandatory Italian-church dress rules apply
• Handicapped accessible - see website
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.
The Medicis may have chosen the church-with-the-boring-facade San Lorenzo as their official chapel, but the truly great Florentines - Galileo, Michelangelo, among others - chose to have their final resting place in this fabulously beautiful neogothic church. If the Duomo is all about form (think bombastic facade and exteriors, and hollow interiors), Santa Croce is all about substance - with a wonderful museum to boot (see tip above).
Behind the 19th century fabulous neogothic facade by Nicolo Matas, is a treasure trove of magnificent frescoes by Giotto, Gaddi, Agnolo (Gaddi's son) and Brunelleschi. Many writers have "fainted" over these beautiful frescoes including Stendhal, it is said. Fortunately, me and the other tourists didn't. Brunelleschi is also the man behind Capella de'Pazzi, which, with its colorful terracotta medallions and perfectly symmetrical lines, is celebrated as one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture.