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Basilica of Santa Croce | Weekend in Italy
Your single ticket gives you access to the treasures of the Monumental Complex which includes the Basilica, the cloisters, and the Museo dell'Opera.
The Basilica, with its T-shaped base and three naves, was built in the tradition of Franciscan convents. One of the most beautiful churches of Florence and the largest Franciscan church in the world, the Basilica of Santa Croce is also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories, as many important artists, writers and scientists are buried here. You will be able to see the most important sepulchers (including those of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Galileo Galilei, Niccolò Machiavelli), the tombs in the pavement, the altars by Vasari, and the many chapels with frescoes of the most important Italian artists from the 12th century (Giotto, Agnolo Gaddi, and others).
The Primo Chiostro or “main cloister” was built in the 14th century. It houses the Pazzi Chapel and the Funeral Gallery from the 18th century, as well as the Pietro Parigi Museum, dedicated to the works by the Florentine woodcut artist active in Santa Croce from 1965 to 1983 (Small Ancient Cloister). The 15th century cloister is placed between the Museo dell'Opera and the rear of the National Library.
The Museo dell'Opera is housed mainly in the refectory, between the 14th and the 15th century cloisters. Here you will have the opportunity to see such works of art as the Crucifix by Cimabue, the frescoes with the Last Supper, The Tree of Life by Taddeo Gaddi, the statue of San Ludovico by Donatello, the Descent of Christ into Limbo by Agnolo Bronzino, the Funeral Monument to Gastone della Torre by Tino di Camaino, terracottas by the Robbia family, and stained glass windows, some of which are attributed to Giotto.
Duration of the visit to all three areas is about 2 hours (2.5 hours with audio guide).
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella with Tablet Video Guide
The Crucifix painted by Giotto, the wooden Crucifix sculpted by Brunelleschi, and Masaccio’s Holy Trinity would suffice in themselves to establish the glory of the Church of Santa Maria Novella, but the church boasts many other works of art – both in painting and sculpture, as well as in architecture, as evidenced by the beautiful facade designed by Leon Battista Alberti.
Masaccio's Trinity (1425-1426): Covered by Giorgio Vasari with a stone altar and the altarpiece of the Madonna of the Rosary in 1570, the fresco was found during restoration of the church in the 19th century, and was detached and placed on the wall inside of the facade. In 1952, the image of the skeleton lying at the base of the Trinity by Masaccio was discovered under the plaster and restored. It bears the inscription "I was already what you are and that which I am you will be", the words spoken by Jesus to God the father in the Easter prayer before his death.
Giotto's Crucifix (1288-1289): Magnificently restored in 2000, the painting of the cross was put back at the center of the Basilica. Highlighting the theme of passion it is inspired by the Franciscan school of the “patient Christ.” It is the image of Christ's body caught in the instant of abandoning life symbolized by the blood gushing from his wounds. Here, the extraordinary beauty lies in the realism of the model that is no longer idealized as in Byzantine art, but true to nature.
Brunelleschi's Crucifix (1410-1415): Following Giotto's Crucifix, Brunelleschi reworked the figure of Christ as a sculpture, bent on the cross adding a slight twist to the left, creating spaces around itself, forcing the observer in a semicircular path around the figure in order to see it completely. The work is characterized by a careful study of the anatomy and proportions, evidencing the essentials (inspired by ancient art), which enhances the sublime dignity and harmony of the work. Christ is more idealized and measured, and the mathematical perfection of forms, recalling the Vitruvian ideal man, is also an echo of the divine perfection of the subject.
Tornabuoni Chapel (Cappella Maggiore): Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it was made by the Ricci family and decorated with frescoes by Orcagna in the middle of the 14th century. The frescoes had already seriously deteriorated after a century and were badly damaged by fire in 1357. The frescoes visible today are those created by Ghirlandaio. Executed at the request of the new patrons of the chapel, the Tornabuoni, they depict stories of the life of the Virgin, the apocryphal gospels, John the Baptist and the Four Evangelists. Master Ghirlandaio had the help of many other artists, including a young Michelangelo for a short period. Characters of that time are depicted, especially of the Tornabuoni family, as well as artists, writers, and philosophers.
The Basilica: The marble facade of Santa Maria Novella is one of the most important works of the Florentine Renaissance, despite having been initiated in earlier periods. It was only completed in 1920. Alberti grafted a modern solution to the underlying Gothic structure, harmonizing the existing elements with those of the new style.
Filippo Strozzi Chapel: Its fame is due to the frescoes by Filippino Lippi. Begun during the late 1480s and completed around 1502, the artist ended his painting life with this cycle. The theme of the cycle of frescoes are the stories of the lives of saint Philip the Apostle and John the Evangelist – Philip because of the name of the buyer, and John as an homage to the previous patron of the chapel.
Gondi Chapel: The chapel is dedicated to Saint Luke, and was built by Fra Ranieri alias “the Greek” in 1264. The Dominican cardinal Latino Malabranca laid the foundation stone for the erection of the Basilica here on October 18, 1279, on the feast of Saint Luke. The chapel belonged to the Scali family from 1319 to 1503, and then passed to the Gondi, who entrusted the renovation of the chapel to Giuliano da Sangallo. In 1571-72 the friars decided to move the precious Crucifix by Brunelleschi to this chapel, where it resides since then.
Gaddi Chapel: Dedicated to Saint Jerome, the patron saint of the Gaddi family, the architecture is by Giovanni Antonio Dosio, a disciple of Michelangelo, who followed the style of his master. The precious marbles that decorate the chapel were stolen from Rome in the 16th century.
Mantua Strozzi Chapel: Built between 1340 and 1350 in honor of Saint Thomas Aquinas, thanks to the generosity of the Mantua branch of the Strozzi family, it was later painted by Nardo di Cione, brother of Andrea Orcagna. The realms of heaven structured according to the vision of the Divine Comedy of Dante are depicted on the walls.
The museum includes the first two cloisters of the convent, the Spanish Chapel and the vast area of the Refectory.
The most famous place is the Green Cloister, which owes its name to the predominant color of the remarkable series of paintings with stories of Genesis that decorate three of the four sides. Dating from the first half of the 15th century, and including the famous scenes of Original Sin and the Flood, they were painted by Paolo Uccello.
On the same side of the Green Cloister, overlooking the 14th century chapter house of the convent, you will find the Spanish Chapel, ceded in 1566 to the Spanish community that had settled in the wake of Eleonora of Toledo, wife of Duke Cosimo I de' Medici. The space is entirely decorated by a complex cycle of frescoes by Andrea di Bonaiuto (1365-1367), an allegorical celebration of the triumph of the Catholic Church against heresy and the active and contemplative life of the Dominican order.
The Green Cloister leads to the chapel of the noble family of the Ubriachi and the large adjoining convent refectory, where a spectacular mural painting by Alessandro Allori and a large painting of the Last Supper by the same artist (1584-1597) overlap with the remains of the original fresco decoration from the end of the 14th century. The two spaces are home to paintings from different places of the monumental complex, including a rare signed and dated altarpiece by Bernardo Daddi, and a wide selection of furnishings and vestments belonging to the ancient treasure of the basilica.
Video Guide Tablet for the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
Santa Maria Novella is the first great basilica of Florence and its main Dominican church, famous for its Renaissance facade and fresco cycles by Domenico Ghirlandaio and his school (the young Michelangelo was one of the apprentices then). Santa Maria Novella is worth a visit for many more unequalled works of art.
Your video tablet outlines the history of the complex of Santa Maria Novella combining text and audio content, supplemented with a rich photo gallery and interactive in-depth analyses. The tablet focuses on the masterpieces, starting from the great crucifixions by Giotto, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, to the great cycles by Andrea di Bonaiuto, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Filippino Lippi, from the illustrious tombs to the refined works by Andrea Cavalcanti and Sandro Botticelli. The multimedia narration brings that artistic, civic, and religious unity which makes the Dominican convent one of the most extraordinary sites in Florence back to life.
Restrictions and Rules of Conduct
Visitors are asked to respect some simple rules. Your pre-purchased ticket DOES NOT guarantee access or the possibility to stay inside the monument. You may be asked to leave if you choose not to respect the following:
- Appropriate clothing is required – no bare arms/shoulders or bare legs. Please note that access to the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Crypt will be denied without appropriate clothing.
- Please respect the silence
- Please turn your mobile phones and other electronic devices off
- Do not eat nor drink
- Pets are not allowed
- Works of art must not be touched
- No smoking
- No flash photography or tripod
- Access not allowed with large suitcases
- Wardrobe not present
Please note that the various places of worship may always be subject to closure without notice for masses, concerts, and extraordinary events.