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Santa Croce Overview

The Basílica di Santa Croce (Basílica of the Holy Cross) also known as the Church of Santa Croce is a masterpiece of the Italian Gotich religious architecture.
The Basilica is located on Piazza di Santa Croce, to the east of the Cathedral (Il Duomo) and it is the main Franciscan church of Florence and the largest in the world. The Basilica is 138 m long and 39 m wide.

Its construction begun in 1294-1295, designed by the illustrious architect Arnolfo di Cambio, and the church was consecrated by Pope Eugenio IV in 1442.
The present neo-gothic Bell Tower was designed by the architect Gaetano Baccani in 1847 to replace the original one which caught fire in 1512.
The current façade was projected by the architect Nicola Matas. Its construction started in 1857 and was ended in1863. It was wholly covered with coloured marble granted by the British gentleman Sir Francis Sloane-Stanley, who resided in Florence for a long time.   

The interior of the Basilica is disposed by a central nave (19 m wide) and two aisles.

The indoors of the Basilica di Santa Croce host many notable art works and masterpieces, like:

The marvellous marble Pulpit  by Benedetto da Maiano;  the monument to Vittorio Alfieri by Antonio Canova; the monument to Dante Alighieri by Stefano Ricci; the monument to Michelangelo by Giorgio Vasari; the monument to Niccolò Machiavelli by  Innocenzo Spinazzi. The “Crocefissione“ by Cimabue; “L’Annunciazione” relief and “S. Luigi di Toulouse” by Donatello; the “Crocefissione” and “L’Ultima Cena” by Taddeo Gaddi; the  “Madonna del Latte” relief  by Antonio Rosellino; the “Cena in Emmaus” and the “Resurrezione” by Santi di Tito; the “Santi Giovanni e Francesco” by Domenico Veneziano.

It keeps as well numerous outstanding sepulchres of illustrious Florentine, Italian and foreign personalities, like:

Leon Battista Alberti, the famous architect from the 15th century; Vittorio Alfieri, the well-known poet and dramatist from the 18th century; Princess Charlotte Bonaparte (19th century) daughter of Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain; Dante Alighieri (13th -14th century) the greatest Florentine and Italian poet; Galileo Galilei (16th -17th century) the most celebrated Italian scientist; Ugo Foscolo, the famous poet from the 19th century; Michelangelo Buonarotti, maybe the most illustrious painter, sculptor, architect, engineer and poet of the Italian Renaissance; Lorenzo Ghiberti (14th -15th century) the creator of the gorgeous doors of the Baptistery of Florence; Niccolò Machiavelli (15th - 16th century) the famous Florentine political thinker and historical figure; Gioacchino Rossini (19th century) the celebrated Italian musical composer; Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern (18th - 19th century), wife of the Prince Charles Edward Stuart; Guglielmo Marconi, the talented Italian physicist who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909.


The Basilica di Santa Croce hosts several private ancient chapels. The most remarkable are:

- The Cappella dei Pazzi: designed by the talented Filippo Brunelleschi and built from 1430 to1461. The domed chapel is located in the main Cloister of the Basilica. The wonderful chapel seems to radiate luminosity from it inside. Its interior was ornamented with terracotta roundels of the Apostles by Lucca Della Robbia and a frieze by Desiderio di Santignano.The doors were made by Benedetto and Giuliano da Marano.  

- The Cappella dei Medici: designed by the famous Florentine architect and sculptor Michelozzo di Bartolommeo (1396-1472) and built for Cosimo the Elder. It host an altarpiece by Andrea Della Robbia and a splendid bas-relieve by Donatello.

- The Cappella dei Bardi: with frescoes by Giotto

- The Cappella dei Bardi di Vernio: with a crucifix by Donatello.

- The Cappella dei Baroncelli: with the magnificent Gothic sepulchre of the Baroncelli family and frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi and the “Coronazione della Vergine” by Giotto.

- The Cappella dei Castellani: with frescoes and stained glass in chancel by Agnolo Gaddi.

- The Cappella dei Peruzzi: with frescoes by Giotto.  

- The Cappella dei Rinuccini: with a wonderful altarpiece by Giovanni del Biondo and the frescoes with the narrative of the vicissitudes of “Maria Maddalena e la Vergine” by Giovanni da Milano.

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