Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St. Lawrence), Florence

Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St. Lawrence), Florence (must see)

Amidst the hustle-bustle of the Central Market ("Mercato Centrale") stands arguably one of the oldest churches in the history of Florence. San Lorenzo is said to date back to the late Roman era and is also the city's largest basilica. Inside, it is as ornate and magnificent as you'd expect for the main worship site and burial ground of the Medici family, despite the unfinished façade that belies its significance.

The influential Medici family, known as one of the most powerful dynasties in Florence's history, entrusted the brilliant architect Filippo Brunelleschi with the task of redesigning San Lorenzo in a modern Renaissance style. The esteemed Michelangelo, on the other hand, was charged with completing an elaborate marble façade. Sadly, the untimely demise of Brunelleschi and Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici resulted in the project's abandonment, leaving Michelangelo to bear the frustration of an unfulfilled vision. Nevertheless, he managed to create the internal façade, visible from the nave when gazing back towards the entrances.

Within the church's remarkable interiors, Renaissance aesthetics prevail, evident in the white and grey columns and the splendid marble embellishments adorning the altar, which serves as the resting place of the first Medici ruler. Along the central nave, visitors will encounter two bronze pulpits crafted by Donatello (his very last works), whose tomb can be found in the crypt along with that of Cosimo I de' Medici. The complex also encompasses the New Sacristy, a space that showcases Michelangelo's masterful Medici tombs, which depict the themes of day and night, dusk and dawn. Additionally, the Chapel of the Princes, dating back to the 17th century, captivates with its monumental dome and exquisite fresco arrangements.

There is an abundance of sights to behold, from the stunning frescoes that grace the walls to the enchanting dome adorned with lovely artwork. Exploring the various cloisters, intimate gardens, and the Laurentian Library—another architectural marvel attributed to Michelangelo—will undoubtedly transport you into a realm of serenity, offering a tranquil respite from the bustling tourist attractions that characterize Florence.

Tip:
Different sections of the church have separate entrances, and it is necessary to present your Florence Card or pay for each section individually. Please note that the Chapel of the Princes and the New Sacristy, housing Michelangelo's tombs, close after 1:30pm.
Take advantage of the lovely market area surrounding San Lorenzo, and consider enjoying a refreshing drink or meal in the picturesque square in front of the Central Market.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Florence. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St. Lawrence) on Map

Sight Name: Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of St. Lawrence)
Sight Location: Florence, Italy (See walking tours in Florence)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Florence, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

Creating your own self-guided walk in Florence is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour

Michelangelo's Masterpieces Walking Tour

Michelangelo spent over 20 years of his life in Florence – the birthplace of the Renaissance – during which time he created some of the most beautiful masterpieces the city had ever seen. The most famous of them – the David – was larger than life, and brought a larger-than-life image to the artist. No amount of photos or copies of the statue will do it justice, so to see it with your own...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles
Florence Food Tour

Florence Food Tour

Food is one of the great Florentine passions, and the great thing about having a delicious authentic Tuscan meal, a snack, delicatessen, or a quality gelato here – besides the abundant variety – is not having to spend a lot of money for it.

In general, the “osterias” and the eateries nestled in Sant’Ambrogio Market will offer cheaper and more casual food with an emphasis on home...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Florence Introduction Walking Tour

Florence Introduction Walking Tour

The city of Florence was founded by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for veteran soldiers. It was built initially in the style of an army garrison – with main streets intersecting at today's Piazza della Repubblica. The original name, Fluentia, stems from its location between the two rivers; later, it was renamed Florentia, which means “flowering” or “flourishing”.

The...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Duomo Walking Tour

Duomo Walking Tour

Located in the very heart of historic Florence, the Duomo area is deservedly considered the city’s religious and civic center, replete with numerous landmarks. Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, the two most important squares in the city, are steeped in history and the sights and activities found here are truly endless.

The most prominent of these, undoubtedly, is the breathtaking...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Arno South Bank Walking Tour

Arno South Bank Walking Tour

The area south of Arno river, also called Oltrarno ("Beyond the Arno"), is a quieter place but not less interesting. Here you can find the Pitti Palace whose collection of paintings is second only to the Uffizi, and the vast Boboli Gardens once enjoyed by the Medici and the royal family. One of the first and most important examples of "Italian Gardens", they later served as...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Medici Landmarks Walking Tour

Medici Landmarks Walking Tour

The Medici family helped to establish Florence as the single most important art capital of Renaissance Europe. In order to prove wealth and power, they built numerous palaces, libraries, churches, chapels and personal residences. The Medicis were big lovers of art and they acquired huge, expensive collections, as well as supporting many sculptors and painters of the time.

Designed by...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


Souvenir Shopping Guide: 16 Unique Products to Buy in Florence

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 16 Unique Products to Buy in Florence

Compared to other Italian "grands" like Rome, Venice, or Milan, Florence is relatively less-known to an outsider for any local products, save, perhaps, Florentine mosaics and Fiorentina FC. Fortunately, there are tonnes of locally-originated things that this Italian city is rightfully...
Florence's Tasty Coffee Shop Guide

Florence's Tasty Coffee Shop Guide

The caffe scene throughout Italy is an important factor of everyday life. People will pop in to their favorite bar on their way to work for a quick espresso breakfast with a pastry, they’ll grab a slice of pizza for lunch or drop by for an aperitivo before dining out and take a peaceful digestivo...
Top 14 Pubs in Florence

Top 14 Pubs in Florence

Florence, the city of art and beauty has no problem in mastering the art of the nightlife as well. Local pubs are very popular and appreciated among the Florentines and the tourists. Locals and native English speakers that study or live in the city cannot wait to welcome tourists in their cozy...