The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly known as the Duomo of Florence, is one of the most famous churches in Italy and the world. When it was completed, in the 15th century, it was the largest church in the world, while today is the third in Europe, after Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Cathedral of the Nativity of Saint Mary in Milan. SHORT HISTORY In 1294, the government of Florence ordered the construction of a new cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flower), on the site of the city’s second cathedral dedicated to Santa Reparata. In 1296, the architect Arnolfo di Cambio was comissioned to design the cathedral, but he died only a few years later. In 1334, Giotto di Bondone was appointed as the architect of the cathedral, and he started the building of the bell-tower. Three years later, Giotto died. Starting with 1337, the construction was supervised by Andrea Pisano, until 1348, when the Black Death halted the works. Francesco Talenti, who took Pisano’s place in 1349, altered Arnolfo’s design, and completed the bell-tower in 1359. After 1366, Giovanni di Lapo Ghini joined him. In 1420, Filippo Brunelleschi Read more [...]
Italy has many churches, and all of them are beautiful and full of spectacular works of art. The main church of the city is referred as Il Duomo, but you will find churches that are named Basilica, Chiesa or Cattedrale, depending on their size and importance.
Some of the most beautiful churches in Italy are the Basilica di San Marco and the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, the Cathedral of the Nativity of Saint Mary and the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Orvieto and the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore in Verona.
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). SHORT HISTORY 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 Read more [...]
The Basilica di Santo Spirito (Basilica of the Holy Spirit) is a Renaissance-style church in Florence, located in the Oltrarno district, in Piazza Santo Spirito. SHORT HISTORY 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 Read more [...]
The Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata is a church in Florence, located in the homonymous square, in the northern part of the historical center of the city. SHORT HISTORY According to tradition, a small oratory dedicated to the Virgin was built on this area in 1081. Around 1233, the abandoned oratory was taken over by the Servants of Mary. In 1250, the Servants of Mary laid the first stone for the construction of a larger basilica. The church and the adjoining convent were dedicated to Santa Maria dei Servi, from the name of the religious order. In 1252, according to legend, the Servants of Mary commissioned a painter called Bartolomeo to paint a fresco of the Annunciation. Despite several attempts, the painter could not paint the face of the Virgin. One day, Bartolomeo fell asleep, and when he woke up, by a miracle, the painting was completed. The fresco became the object of great veneration and deep devotion of the Florentines. Towards the end of the 13th century, the floor of the church was redone and the choir stalls were carved by master Guglielmo of Calabria. In the first half of the 14th century, various chapels and altars were Read more [...]
The Church of San Salvatore in Ognissanti, or simply the Church of Ognissanti (Church of All Saints), is a church in Florence, located in the homonymous square. SHORT HISTORY In 1239, the Humiliati arrived in Florence, and settled outside the city. In 1251, they started a church as part of a larger conventual complex. In 1571, the order of the Humiliati was suppressed at the behest of Cosimo I, and the Franciscans replaced them in the convent. Renovation work began immediately. Two cloisters were built, and the church was rededicated in 1582 to San Salvatore. In 1627, the interior of the church was restructured to a design by the architect Matteo Segaloni, commissioned by Ferdinando II de’ Medici. New altars, paintings and sculptures embellished the church. In 1637, the facade in Baroque style was completed by Matteo Nigetti. In 1872, the facade was completely redone in travertine. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade of the church develops on three levels. The lower one has a large portal in the center, flanked by two niches. The portal has a lunette with the Coronation of the Virgin and Saints by Benedetto Buglioni. The second order has a niche in the center Read more [...]
The Church of San Salvatore al Monte is a Catholic church in Florence, located on the hill known as Monte delle Croci, not far from the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte. SHORT HISTORY At the beginning of the 15th century, on this site was a Franciscan chapel. The chapel was enlarged in the first half of the century, and the works were completed around 1442. In the last decades of the 15th century, the church was renovated by the architect Simone del Pollaiolo, also known as Il Cronaca, by the will of the rich merchant Castello Quaratesi. The renovation started in 1499, and was completed in 1504. During the Siege of 1529, the church was badly damaged, and throughout the 16th century was left in a state of neglect. In 1665, the friars definitively left San Salvatore al Monte. In 1875, Piazzale Michelangelo was built nearby. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade of the church, very simple and framed by the typical Tuscan cypresses, has plastered surfaces interrupted only by the portal and the gable windows. Inside, the church has a single nave with five chapels on each side, marked by a double order of stone pilasters in Read more [...]
The Basilica of San Lorenzo is a beautiful church in Florence, located in the historical center of the city, in Piazza di San Lorenzo. SHORT HISTORY According to tradition, the church was built during the 4th century outside the walls of the ancient city. In 393, it was consecrated to the martyr Lawrence, in the presence of Saint Ambrose and Saint Zenobius. For the next 300 years, San Lorenzo was the Cathedral of Florence, before giving up the status to the Church of Santa Reparata, where the remains of San Zanobi, the first bishop of Florence, were solemnly transferred. In 1059, the church was enlarged and rededicated, on the initiative of the bishop Gherardo di Borgogna, when he became pope under the name of Niccolò II. In 1418, the abbot Matteo Dolfini obtained permission to demolish some houses to enlarge the transept of the church. Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, a wealthy banker, financed the construction and named Filippo Brunelleschi to direct the works. The sacristy was finished in 1428, but then the works were stopped. After 1441, Cosimo de’ Medici, Giovanni’s son, assumed the entire burden of the construction, and the direction of the works passed to Michelozzo, Read more [...]
The Basilica of San Miniato al Monte is a Romanesque church in Florence, located on one of the highest points in the city, in Via delle Porte Sante. San Miniato (Saint Minias) was an Armenian soldier, who was killed in the year 250 AD by the Roman soldiers of Emperor Decius, because he converted to Christianity, and Christians were persecuted at that time. He is considered the first martyr of the city and his remains are supposedly kept today in the crypt of San Miniato al Monte. SHORT HISTORY The oldest historical evidence of a church dedicated to San Miniato dates back to the year 783. The building was neglected and unsafe, and the Florentine bishop Ildebrando began to build a new one on April 27, 1018. The church was finished two hundred years later, in the 13th century. In 1373, the Olivetan monks arrived in Florence, called by the Pope Gregorio XI, and settled in the monastery, where you can still find them today. The Chapel dedicated to the Cardinal Giacomo di Coimbra (Cardinal of Portugal) was built between 1461 and 1466 by Antonio Manetti and finished by Antonio Rossellino, after his death. During the 16th century, with Read more [...]
The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is a wonderful Dominican church located in Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, in the beautiful city of Florence. SHORT HISTORY In 1219, twelve Dominicans arrived in Florence from Bologna, led by Fra’ Giovanni. In 1221, they obtained the small Church of Santa Maria delle Vigne, so called for the surrounding agricultural land. In 1242, the Dominicans decided to start work on a new and larger church. On October 18, 1279, during the feast of San Luca, the laying of the first stone was celebrated, with the blessing of Cardinal Latino Malabranca Orsini. The construction was completed around the middle of the 14th century, but the church was consecrated only in 1420, by Pope Martino V. Leon Battista Alberti designed the large central portal and the upper part of the facade, in white and dark green marble, which was completed in 1470. After the Council of Trent, between 1565 and 1571, the interior of the church was redesigned by Giorgio Vasari, with the removal of the choir enclosure and the reconstruction of the side altars, which led to the shortening of the Gothic windows. Between 1575 and 1577, the Gaddi Chapel (Cappella Gaddi) was Read more [...]