Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is a beautiful Franciscan church located in Piazza di Santa Croce, in Florence. The church is the burial place of Michelangelo Buonarroti, one of the greatest sculptors of all time.
Besides Michelangelo, inside the church are buried many famous people, including the scientist Galileo Galilei, the politician and philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, the writer Vittorio Alfieri, the poet Ugo Foscolo and the composer Gioachino Rossini. Due to this fact, the Basilica of Santa Croce is also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell’Itale Glorie).
According to legend, in 1211, Saint Francis of Assisi arrived in Florence. On a little island created by the Arno River, there was a chapel dedicated to the Holy Cross, which was donated to Saint Francis, and from which the current church borrowed the name.
The building of the church started in 1294, after a project elaborated probably by Arnolfo di Cambio, one of the most important architects of that time. During its construction, many great artists worked here, such as Giotto di Bondone, Taddeo and Agnolo Gaddi, Maso di Banco, Giovanni da Milano, Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelozzo.
Due to floods and epidemics, the basilica was finished at the end of the 14th century, and consecrated in 1442 by Pope Eugenio IV. With many financial difficulties, the last works were completed in 1504. Around that time, the funding came to an end and the church remained without a facade.
In 1966, the flood of the Arno River seriously damaged the complex of the basilica and the convent, located in the lower part of Florence.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
On the facade in white marble, the three lunettes of the portals stand out, recalling the legend of the Holy Cross. On the left, there is the Finding of the Cross by Tito Sarrocchi, in the center, above the main portal, is the Triumph of the Cross by Giovanni Duprè, and on the right, the Vision of Constantine by Emilio Zocchi.
The central portal has wooden doors borrowed from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in 1903. Above the main portal, there is a beautiful rose window, surmounted by a prominent Star of David.
The church has an Egyptian cross plan, with three naves divided by two rows of large pillars with an octagonal base, and a large transept.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Basilica of Santa Croce is located about 1.6 kilometers away from the Santa Maria Novella railway station. The nearest bus station is Magliabechi, located about 50 meters away, on the bus Line C3.