Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence

Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence (must see)

One of the most famous and the largest Franciscan churches in the world, Basilica di Santa Croce was built between the 13th and 14th century, flaunting a rich Gothic style of architecture. Also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories, it has the final resting places of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, the poet Foscolo and the composer Rossini.

Elaborate sculptures decorate the tombs while paintings adorn the altar and walls. Some of the finest artisans, sculptors and painters have left their marks upon the church, which is sure to grip visitors with its grandeur and presence. Artists with work in the church include Giotto, Donatello, Giorgio Vasari, Domenico Veneziano, Antonio Canova, Cimabue, Benedetto da Maiano, Andrea and Luca della Robbia, Desiderio da Settignano, Giovanni da Milano, Maso di Banco, Agnolo and Taddeo Gaddi, Andrea Orcagna, Antonio Rossellino, Santi di Tito, and Henry Moore. Legend even has it that the Santa Croce was founded by Saint Francis himself!

The grounds are quite nice as well, and the grassy inner courtyard, with its columns and statuary, encourages to take time to explore – or spend all day here with a sketchbook! The outside plaza holds multiple events, from concerts by visiting musicians to Florentine "rugby".

***MICHELANGELO'S MASTERPIECES***
Directly against Michelangelo's plans, his dead body was taken from Rome to Florence where Cosimo de' Medici and the artist/biographer Vasari arranged a lavish funeral on March 10, 1564. Since he was not able to employ the artist and honor him in Florence during his life, declared de' Medici, he would honor him in death, and with a proper tomb to match.

The monumental tomb inside the church – which ended up costing a massive sum and took 14 years to complete, due to delays – was commissioned to the same Vasari, who included traditional symbols and imagery relevant to Michelangelo. Next to the artist's bust, there are three intertwined laurel wreaths representing the union of the artistic domains of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, which are also depicted below as three muses mourning the loss of the great artist.

***DANTE'S FLORENCE WALK***
Dante's empty sarcophagus was installed here after Florence spent a lot of years trying to get his remains back to the city of his birth. Rejected when he was alive, Dante now rests in his adopted city of Ravenna, despite Florence's posthumous forgiveness and acceptance of the exiled poet. A monument of Dante – erected in 1865 to celebrate the 600 year anniversary of his birth – stands outside in Piazza Santa Croce, named after the basilica that overlooks it.

Tip:
Don't miss the Leather school behind the church where young interns are learning the trade and where you can buy some fantastic handmade one-offs.
Please remember that shorts have to be below knee and women must have shoulders covered and no midsection exposed. They enforce the shorts rule on the women more than the men.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5:30pm; Sun: 2-5:30pm; Last admission: 5pm

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 iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Basilica di Santa Croce on Map

Sight Name: Basilica di Santa Croce
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.
Duomo Souvenir Shopping

Duomo Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Florence without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. On this self-guided tour, we've compiled a list of shops and markets where you can find something unique to remember your Florentine visit.

Start at Central Market, which is not only a fun and colorful place to visit, but also the best place to stop for a meal....  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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Florence Palaces Walking Tour

Florence Palaces Walking Tour

Toward the end of the 13th century, Florentine families who had acquired power – both financial, through banking and trade, and political – began to build sizeable new palaces for themselves. The construction of the Palazzo del Popolo (now housing the Bargello Museum) acted as an important catalyst in this process, having opened the translation into the private sphere.

Early 14th century...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 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 and, as such, was built in the style of an army camp with the main streets intersecting at the present Piazza della Repubblica. The original name Fluentia was due to the fact that it was built between two rivers; later, however, this was changed to Florentia which means “flowering” or...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
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: 3.8 Km or 2.4 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: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles

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