The Santa Croce Church – What you need to know
The Santa Croce Church (Basilica of the Holy Cross), founded in 1294 and designed by the great architect Arnolfo di Cambio, is one of the oldest and most magnificent Franciscan basilicas and an expression of Italian Gothic architecture in Florence. Next to the church is the convent complex, with two cloisters, the novitiate, the refectory and the chapter room, known as the Pazzi Chapel. The museum, housing the works from the church and the cloister, is located within the novitiate. In its seven centuries of history, the church has acquired an artistic patrimony that makes it one of most visited places in Florence.
The Basilica established its custom of housing the “Urne dei Forti” (tombs of famous people), from when Michelangelo’s tomb was made. From 1871, after the burial of Ugo Foscolo, the remains of other celebrities, such as Gioacchino Rossini, Leon Battista Alberti, Vittorio Alfieri, Galileo Galilei, Machiavelli and Enrico Fermi began to be brought there, to the point at which it housed the earthly remains of up to 15,000 people.
Its interior, with three naves divided by two rows of large pillars, has the form of an “Egyptian” cross, i.e. a “T”. Large-scale modernisation was carried out in 1566, with designs by Giorgio Vasari, following the rulings of the Council of Trent to implement the directives of the Counter-Reformation. This meant the destruction of some of the original works, including the choir and frescoes by Andrea Orcagna, some fragments of which are displayed today in the Basilica Museum.
The Church suffered considerable artistic losses due to the flood in 1966, particularly the Crucifix by Cimabue, but after extensive restoration that brought it back to its original splendor, it became the symbol of the rebirth of the city of Florence.
Our Best Tips: Last admission is at 5:00 pm: the ticket office closes half an hour before closing time. The entrance for individuals or families is located in Largo Bargellini
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