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Santa Croce Church was built in the 14th-century and is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Decorated with centuries of precious art it holds the tombs of great Florentines. Don’t let the 8€ entry fee deter you; it will be the best money you spend that day! Plan to spend a few hours as there is so much to take in. This church has so many treasures, sculptures, paintings, tombs, frescoes.
The facade outside is 19th-century Victorian Gothic and faces a huge piazza lined with shops and restaurants. It is a very pretty piazza where you can sit along the perimeter and watch the children play. Dante and his remains are inside the church (below)
A beautiful view of this very large piazza. During the holidays, you can find tents filled with vendors selling their goods here!
Once inside Santa Croce, stop and admire its sheer height and spaciousness. The wood ceiling with its painted detail is just beautiful!
On the left wall (as you face the altar) is the tomb of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the Pisan who lived his last years under house arrest near Florence. Having defied the Church by saying that the earth revolved around the sun, his remains were only allowed in the church long after his death (below)
Directly opposite (on the right wall) is the tomb of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) which is an amazing tribute done by Giorgio Vasari. (below)
The frescoes in this church are amazing. They are everywhere you look and in very good condition. Here is a glimpse of some of the walls and ceiling.
Flood of 1966
In the hallway near the bookstore, notice the photos of the devastating flood of 1966. Inside the museum, they had a great video about the flood and how so many art pieces were lost. Here is just a little clip of that video.
The Beautiful Paintings
Also in this church are many amazing paintings. Here is just a few:
The Tombs on the Floor
Another eye-catching amazing sight in Santa Croce is all the tombs that are everywhere on the floor. Some are flat and people walk on them. Others that are raised, and probably pose a hazard, are roped off so you need to walk around them. Makes you wonder why they are placed where they are. Are the rich, like relatives of the Medici closer to the altar?
A Little Humor Too…
We don’t usually laugh in church but we just couldn’t help ourselves this time. If you have ever seen the movie “Letters to Juliet” from 2010, you know how they go looking for “Lorenzo Bartalini.” Well, we were walking down this hallway and Gary points to the statue, “Hey look, we found Lorenzo!” We laughed for about ten minutes!
Finally, The Crucifix
This crucifix or “Cimabue” in Santa Croce (1272 – Pisa – 1310) is the symbol of the flood from November 1966. It took ten years to restore the cross and return it to its original home. Having lost about 70% of its painted surface, it still stands as a testimony of those horrible days in 1966. It was hung high up in the Sacristy for added safety in 2013.
Ajay AroraJuly 21, 2017 at 10:42 am
Simple stunning ! The architecture, the brilliance, the tomb, the spiritual experience in this place is got to be bliss !
NancyJuly 21, 2017 at 1:18 pm
We spent a month in Florence this past Spring (2017). Our apartment was just around the corner. It is beautiful.
Jimmy and StephJuly 21, 2017 at 1:28 pm
Absolutely breathtaking the amount of detail and time that went into perfecting these masterfully built churches!
Madhurima DuttaJuly 21, 2017 at 8:59 pm
The architecture and the detailed drawings are truly marvellous. It is indeed a irony that Galileo’s remains were let inside but his ideas were not welcome until death!
Vanessa BallJuly 21, 2017 at 9:25 pm
WOW, this church is simply stunning, such detail. Thank you for sharing, I would love to see it in the flesh to get a better feeling 🙂
lloydJuly 21, 2017 at 10:54 pm
incredible! what a piece of art hat building is 🙂 such great detail in everything. one for the bucket list
Anushka AggarwalJuly 21, 2017 at 10:55 pm
The architecture looks really amazing, and those paintings are really beautiful. I am always love to checkout such beautiful architecture and study about its history, the information you provided really gives a great insight of it.
Travelling DanyJuly 22, 2017 at 2:29 am
I love Florence but I still haven’t managed to see Santa Croce without the huge crowds… and I go there at least 1-2 times each year! The inside is impressive tho, I just wish people could be more respectful!
imodicaJuly 22, 2017 at 9:52 am
I understand your thoughts. We were there (on line) when it first opened. We like to do that so we ‘sort-of’ beat the crowds. It’s nice to have the place to yourself for a little while, anyway.
Kerry MaskellJuly 22, 2017 at 3:09 am
One of my favourite churches in Italy, you have captured its beauty and finesse in your stunning photography. A wonderful and descriptive article.
SaumyataJuly 22, 2017 at 3:42 am
Truly amazing pictures especially the architecture! Simply blissful?
Samantha SparrowJuly 22, 2017 at 6:19 am
Santa Croce was one of my favourite places to see in Florence, the facade is incredible and I really love all the marble and colours that adorns Florence’s main religious buildings. Beautiful!
EMJuly 22, 2017 at 9:01 am
I love church architecture! this one is stunning . I visited Rome last year , I’m planning on going back for Florence
imodicaJuly 22, 2017 at 9:51 am
Let us know if you need any help in deciding where to go and how much time to spend. We’d be happy to assist!
Karyna McLarenJuly 22, 2017 at 9:45 am
This church is simply stunning! I never had the opportunity to visit and now I am regretting it! I will definitely need to make sure it is at the top of my list for next time.
Lyf&SpiceJuly 22, 2017 at 10:35 am
This is such a beautiful church. I love the detailing right from the intricate ceiling to the walls. These sculptures speak so much of the place they reside in. Cheers!!
JenJuly 22, 2017 at 8:13 pm
The architecture is amazing! The art, the frescoes are so intricate. It is truly a grand place of worship. As if the town of florence is not beautiful enough, then they have this marvelous churches. Thanks for sharing your photos with us especially me who has never been there, but will soon be.
Ambuj SaxenaJuly 23, 2017 at 11:23 pm
Thank you for letting me know about this place. The entire post is very well written and I was particularly intrigued by the way 1966 floods have been documented. I guess it’s a reminder that we are mere mortals in front of Nature.
AlexJuly 24, 2017 at 8:34 am
This is absolutely beautiful. The post is very easy to follow and you provided some great tips for new travelers. This is the first Italian focused blog I have seen and it is fantastic. Great work!
imodicaJuly 24, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Thanks Alex. I can’t thank you enough for your kind words.