Basilica di San Marco Overview
The Capitular Hall is located opposite to the Cloister of S. Antonino da Firenze. Its indoors are presided by the outstanding “Crucifixion” by Fra Angelico.
Next is the “Sala del Cenacolo” (the small Refectory) which is dominated by a masterpiece created by the great Florentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494): “The Last Supper”, the last (from 1486) and small fresco (400 x 800 cm) from the three one created by Ghirlandaio representing the same subject.
His first “Last Supper” was painted in 1476. It is displayed in the Refectory of the Badia dei Santi Michele e Biagio in Passignano sul Trasimeno (Tuscany). The second one was created in 1480 and is hosted in the Church of Ognissanti in Florence.
Nearby the “Sala del Cenacolo” is the “Foresteria” composed of some rooms intended to depict the ancient Florence. They host fragments of sculpturing and architectonical works from the historical centre of the city which were demolished during the second half of the 19th century, as well as a precious collection of objects and paintings rescued from the 19th century destruction attempt of the Monastery. They also house an exclusive collection of ancient bells.
On the upper floor, which is constructed in accordance to the parameters of the Cloister of S. Antonino da Firenze, are located the cells of the friars who resided in the former Monastery.
Each cell hosts a fresco of religious subject painted by Fra Angelico.
Cells 12 to 15 were the austere cells intended to the study and the rest of Fra Girolamo Savonarola. They host two masterpieces by Fra Angelico: a wonderful version of his famed “Annunciazione” and “La Trasfigurazione”, as well as the celebrated portrait of Savonarola painted by Fra Bartolomeo in 1498. The cells house also several relics of the late-lamented utopian thinker.
The largest cells 38 and 39 were reserved for Cosimo the Elder when the founder of the Medici dynasty recoiled in the Monastery to meditate and find spiritual peace among those paradisiacal walls.
The entrance to the superb Library of San Marco is located at the beginning of the ample passage between the cells 42 and 43.
It was as well designed by Michelozzo with the architectonical features of a colonnaded hall. The Library, considered an example of the ideal Renaissance architecture, is composed of an ample central nave and two narrower laterals. Once it contained 64 worktables intended to the study of the friars and guests. Currently it displays an outstanding collection of illuminated manuscripts, incunabula, ancient books of philosophical and scientific matter, old Greek and Latin grammars and poetical works and a large collection of ancient precious missals, all of them created in the Monastery.
The Library of San Marco has been the first public one in Europe.
In the times of Lorenzo the Magnificent it was the preferred intellectual site in Florence. Furthermore than Lorenzo de Medici it was frequented by eminent persons such as the philosopher Pico della Mirandola (1463 -1494), who from 1488 ca. worked in Library invited by Lorenzo de Magnificent. In the last years of his life he entered in religion in the Dominican Monastery of San Marco.
Other illustrious erudite who was linked to the Library was the Tuscan grammarian, poet and writer Agnolo Poliziano (1454-1494). In his adolescence, between 1469 and 1473, he translated from Greek into Latin “The Iliad”. Lorenzo the Magnificent remained so admired by this work to concede him, in 1473, the privilege of working in the Library. When Poliziano was 21 years old was nominated instructor of Piero de Medici, son of Lorenzo.
The Museum of San Marco opens daily from 8:15 am to 13:50 pm.
On Saturday and Sunday it remains opened until 7 pm.
The Museum closes on the second and fourth Sunday and on the first, third and fifth Monday of the month.
The admission ticket is: 4.00 euros.
The Church of San Marco
It reconstruction was projected as well by Michelozzo, being consecrated by Pope Eugenio IV in 1443. Its indoors are composed by a sole nave flanked by beautiful chapels which were designed in the mid of the 16th century by the celebrated Flemish sculptor Jean de Boulogne (1529-1608), cordially called Giambologna in Italy where he resided the most part of his life.
The pretty carved ceiling was made in the second half of the 17th century. Around 1680 the Church was renewed by the well-known Florentine architect Pier Francesco Salviani (1620-1685) while the reconstruction of the present Neo-Classical façade was carried on in 1778 ca.
In the counter-façade is set an imposing wooden crucifix from the 14th century while the crucifix placed on the High Altar is a masterpiece by Fra Angelico, created between 1425 and 1428.
“S. Tommaso in preghiera” (from 1594 ca.) which is placed on the first altar to the right, is a splendid canvas by the worldwide celebrated Florentine artist Santi di Tito (1536-1603) who played an important role in the transition from Mannerism to the Baroque in Florence, being also one of the leading painters of the Counter Reformation in the capital city of Tuscany.
On the second altar is set the “Madonna e santi” an elegant painting by Fra Bartolomeo.
Among the chapels designed by Jean de Boulogne in the Church of San Marco stand out the Cappella Salviati and the Cappella del Sacramento.
The first one was commissioned from him by the Salviati family who became related by marriage to the Medici one, through the nuptials of Giacomo Salviati with Lucrezia de Medici. Jean de Boulogne terminated in 1589 the work of the Chapel. Its magnificent dome was frescoed by the refined mannerist painter Bernardino Poccetti (1548-1612).
The indoors of the Salviati Chapel were frescoed by the renowned Florentine painter Domenico Passignano (known as “Il Cresti” or as “Il Passignano”) with a fresco cycle representing “Il Trasferimento ed il Funerale di S.Antonino Perozzi” (the translation and funeral of S. Antonino Perozzi). Domenico Passignano was born in 1558 and died in 1638. Although he was born in Passignano, in the proximities of Florence, he belonged to the Venetian school and was very much influenced by the art of Tintoretto. In Florence he became one of the entrusted painters and decorators of Ferdinando I de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
The indoors of the Cappella del Sacramento were frescoed by Bernardino Pocetti. The Chapel included a series of outstanding pictures created in the most part by Tuscan artists from the 16th to 17th century: Santi di Tito, Jacopo da Empoli, Daniele Crespi (born in Milan), Francesco Curradi and Francesco Morandini.
The Church of San Marco houses as well the tombs of some illustrious persons. Among them, are the sepulchres of Pico della Mirandola and of Agnolo Poliziano.
The Church of San Marco opens daily from 7 am to noon and from 4 pm to 8 pm.
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