Santa Croce Church
If you are taking one of the ship organized tours into Florence it’s very likely that Piazza Santa Croce, at the eastern edge of the Centro Storico, will be your official drop off and pick up point.
Now, before you rush off into other parts of Florence, take a few moments to admire the Santa Croce church from the outside or even visit its inside, after all this is one of the top 10 Florence Italy sights.
Namely, many Mediterranean cruise guests walk past Santa Croce church not realizing how important it is to Florence Italy history.
Here’s a few reasons why it’s a place worth stopping by to you as a cruise guest:
1. Basilica di Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Legend says it was founded by St Francis himself. It’s known for a fact its construction started in 1294. However, it wasn’t finished until 1442 and its façade was added in 1857 only! As it was common in those days, the church was built with rich families’ donations who in turn got the right to be buried inside the church, which they believed brought them a bit closer to heaven.
2. The church is famous for its funerary monuments. Namely, when you walk into Santa Croce church, you will be in the presence of some of the most notable Florentines who were buried here. The Medicis may have chosen San Lorenzo as their official chapel but Basilica Santa Croce is where you will find some of the greatest minds of both the Renaissance and later periods.
To mention just a few:
Michelangelo Buonarotti – yes, it’s the Michelangelo, whose David everyone flocks to see in the Accademia. This uber-famous Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect poet and engineer, author of the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes, is buried right here, in Santa Croce church!
Niccolo Machiavelli - the 16th Ct. poet, philosopher, diplomat and one of the founders of modern political science and author of “The Prince”.
Galileo Galilei - Pisan physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, most known for asserting that the Earth evolved around the Sun but also called the father of modern science in general.
Gioacchino Rossini - a 19th ct composer whose most known work is probably “The Barber of Seville”. He was nicknamed “The Italian Mozart” and until his retirement in 1829, he had been the most popular composer in history.
Although not actually buried there, there are monuments there to Dante (author of the Divine Comedy, a masterpiece of world literature), and Guglielmo Marconi (best known for his development of a radio telegraph system, and a winner of the Nobel Prize in 1909).
3. The church is full of artworks that attract hordes of tourists! For that, we can thank some of those families who got the right to be buried inside the church. With that right, they also acquired the patronage of its chapels and assumed rights to decorate them and furnish them.
The chapels were decorated with works by some of the greatest artists of their times, including Giotto, Donatello and Brunelleschi…
All in all, if the Duomo is all about the exterior and structure, the Basilica Santa Croce is all about the interior and some of the finest examples of Renaissance art and architecture.
Also, part of the convent of the church is occupied by the famous leather school.
Basilica Santa Croce: Tips for Visitors
Mon-Sat 9:30 – 17:30
Sundays and Catholic holidays (January 6, August 15, November 1, December 8) 13:00 – 17:30
Closed: January 1, Easter, June 13, October 4, 25, December 26 and during the matches of the historic Florentine soccer.
You can see the plan of the church and read more about the Basilica Santa Croce here.