Even the churches in Florence are full of beauty. There you can find many frescoes and sculptures often made by Renaissance’s great masters. Here I bring you a compilation of the churches in Florence that you can visit on your trip to this beautiful city.
It could not be otherwise, the number one church to visit in Florence is Il Duomo or Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. This church was built on the foundations of Santa Reparata church, given the need to have a larger cathedral that competes with the cathedrals in Siena and Pisa. Its construction was carried out in stages over a century, leaving the dome unfinished.
It was the architect Filippo Brunelleschi who had the ingenious idea of building the dome in an octagonal double-hull design. In addition, he developed machinery to lift the heavy stones without the need for scaffolding. The construction process of the dome lasted 16 years and is considered one of the great achievements of the Renaissance. At the foot of the cathedral is a statue of Brunelleschi “watching” his work.
Inside the church is quite austere considering how impressive the exterior is. Giorgio Vasari was commissioned to paint some frescoes inside the dome that can be seen when climbing its 463 steps. Together with the Cathedral, they built the bell tower and the baptistery. In the baptistery, the doors of paradise are famous, made by the artist Lorenzo Ghiberti. The doors of the baptistery are replicas, the originals are in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.
Santa Croce Basilica
Located in the square of the same name, the Santa Croce basilica has a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Neo-Gothic styles. The architect responsible for this work was Alfonso di Cambio. On the inside it is not much more ornamented than Santa Maria del Fiore, however, it has works by notable artists such as Donatello, Vasari, and Ghiberti.
Perhaps the most outstanding feature of this basilica is that inside are the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, and Machiavelli among others. It also has some monuments in honor of Leonardo Da Vinci and Dante, whose remains are not found in this church. It is worth mentioning that Santa Croce is the seat of the Franciscan order. The ticket price is €8.00 ($9.00 USD) and in my opinion, it is very worth it.
Santa Maria Novella Basilica
The Santa Maria Novella church is located near the train station of the same name. Belongs from the year 1221 to the order of the Dominican friars. The beautiful façade was completed in 1470 in the Gothic and Renaissance styles. Among the artworks the church has is Brunelleschi’s wooden crucifix.
Also inside you can find the oldest pharmacy in Europe. Here you can buy perfumes, olive oil soaps and the famous Acqua Della Regina, a fragrance that was created by the monks especially for Catherine de Medici, queen of France. They say that it is still made with the same ingredients.
San Lorenzo Basilica
Filippo Brunelleschi was in charge of San Lorenzo Basilica construction. This church was the main parish for the most powerful family in Florence, the Medici. It was built between 1422 and 1470. The façade, although it was commissioned to Michelangelo, was never finished. Inside you can see the Brunelleschi’s old sacristy decorated with sculptures by Donatello, and the Michelangelo’s new sacristy.
From the new sacristy, you have access to the Medici Chapels or Chapel of the Princes. Here is where some Medici family members are buried and their tombs are enhanced with Michelangelo sculptures. The price to enter to Basilica San Lorenzo is €6.00 ($7.1 USD), € 8.50 ($10.00 USD) if you want to visit also the Museum, the Cloister, and the Laurentian library. The entrance ticket to the Chapel of the Princes costs €8.00 ($9.5 USD)
San Miniato al Monte Basilica
This basilica was built between 1018 and 1207 in Florentine Romanesque style. According to Christian tradition, San Miniato was a Christian hermit who arrived in Florence around the year 250. He was persecuted and beheaded by Emperor Decius. Legend says that the saint picked up his head from the ground and retired to his hermit cave, which is where this church was built.
I really liked this church, because it has that authentic medieval vibe. When we arrived we could hear the Benedictine monks’ Gregorian chants. In fact, later I learned that on Sundays and holidays the monks sing Gregorian chants from 10 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon in the crypt. If you are in Florence you can come and listen to them.
Outside there is a cemetery where Carlo Collodi, the author of The Adventures of Pinocchio novel, is buried. To access this church you have to climb beyond Piazzale Michelangelo. A good condition is required, however, the views are fabulous. The best thing about this church is that the entrance is FREE!
If you want to know which other things you can see for free in Florence check my post Suggestions on what to do in Florence for free
San Marco Basilica
The façade of this former convent of the Dominican order is Baroque. Inside is the Museum of San Marcos where the paintings of Fra Angelico stand out. Another point of interest is the cell of Fra Girolamo Savonarola, who was condemned to the stake by orders of Pope Alexander VI. Savonarola preached against the luxury and excesses of the powerful and the corruption of the Catholic Church. He even managed to get the Florentines to expel Governor Piero de ‘Medici.
This former convent (and museum) is open Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 1:50 p.m, and on Saturdays and Sundays they close at 4:50 p.m. They close the first, third and fifth Sunday of each month, as well as the second and fourth Monday. The ticket cost is €4.00 ($4.75 USD).
Other churches in Florence
Other churches in Florence of lesser beauty and/or importance are:
The Chiesa di Dante
Actually, the name of this church is Chiesa di Santa Margherita Dei Cerchi. However, it is known as the church of Dante because presumably, it was here where he met Beatrice, whom he fell madly in love with. They would never be together, but that did not stop her from becoming Dante’s muse. They believe that Beatrice and her family are buried here, although there is no evidence of that.
Basilica della Santissima Annunziata
Or Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation is a church in Renaissance and Baroque style. It’s in the square of the same name. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this church is the painting of Annunciation that is inside. There is a legend which says that this painting was started by a monk and finished by an angel while the monk was sleeping. Admission is free.
Chiesa di Santo Spirito
Santo Spirito is a former convent where they say that Michelangelo lived for a time when he was 17 years old. This is another church which was commissioned to Brunelleschi, unfortunately, the façade also remained unfinished due to his death. Inside there is a crucifix made by Michelangelo in return for the hospitality of the monks. I didn’t go inside, I just ate pizza near there.😀 If any of you have been inside you can tell me about your impressions.
With this, I finish the recount of the most famous churches in Florence. They were made with very precise architecture techniques, besides to great artistic sense. If I could I would visit them all, I think that in each one is possible to find something different to see.
And which ones have you visited? Do you like to visit churches when you travel? Leave your comments in the box below ⇓ Ciao !!