In 1250, Spinello Accolti and Omodeo di Guido donated to the Augustinian friar Aldobrandino a house and two vineyards in the Oltrarno area for the construction of a church, which was originally dedicated, in 1252, to the Virgin Mary, to the Holy Spirit and to all the Saints.
In 1269, a community of Augustinian friars settled permanently in Florence, and began on this site the construction of a church dedicated to the Holy Spirit.
Starting with 1397, the Municipality provided funds for the construction of a new basilica, but the work began only in 1434, when the project was entrusted to Filippo Brunelleschi. After the death of Brunelleschi in 1446, the construction site passed into the hands of his three disciples, Antonio Manetti, Giovanni da Gaiole and Salvi d’Andrea.
In 1471, a serious fire destroyed many works of art in the church. Salvi d’Andrea built the dome between 1479 and 1481, and the internal facade between 1483 and 1487. Consecrated in 1481, the basilica was completed in 1487.
Giuliano da Sangallo’s sacristy dates back to 1489. The bell tower, 70 meters high, is the work of Baccio d’Agnolo, and was built between 1503 and 1570.
The external facade of the church remained unfinished, with exposed stones, until the 18th century, when it was plastered.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The church has a Latin cross plan, with three naves (with the central nave twice as wide as the lateral ones), separated by 48 slender columns with Corinthian capitals and round arches between them, and ribbed vaults on the side naves.
Inside the church, we can find 38 semicircular side chapels beautifully decorated with works by Francesco Botticini, Filippino Lippi, Andrea Sansovino, Cosimo Rosselli, and Donnino and Agnolo del Mazziere.
At the intersection of the main nave with the transept, there is the high altar surmounted by a Baroque baldachin in polychrome marble, built by Giovanni Battista Caccini and Gherardo Silvani in 1601.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Basilica of Santo Spirito is located about 1.4 kilometers away from the Santa Maria Novella railway station. The closest bus stop is Frescobaldi, located about 280 meters away, in Piazza de’ Frescobaldi, on the bus Lines 11, C3 and C4.
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