church of santa maria novella in florence italy

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  Church of Santa Maria Novella  

Address: Piazza Santa Maria Novella
The Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy - Exterior The Dominican friars, Sisto da Firenze and Ristoro da Campi, began to build the church in 1246 on the site of the l0th-century Dominican oratory of S. Maria delle Vigne. The nave and aisles went up in 1279 and the building was finished in the middle of the 14th century with the campanile and the Sacristy by Jacopo Talenti. The marvelous facade was remodelled between 1456 and 1470 by Leon Battista Alberti (the original facade was early 14th century) who created the splendid portal and everything above it, articulated in inlaid squares and bordered by the heraldic sails of the Rucellai family who commissioned the work. Two large reversed volutes tie the lateral masses together with those in the center, articulated by four engaged pilasters and terminating in a triangular pediment. The interior is divided into a nave and two aisles by compound piers with pointed arches, and 16th-century renovation.

The church houses numerous works from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Of particular note are the Monument to the Beata Villana by Rossellino (1451); the Bust of St. Antoninus (in terra cotta) and the Tomb of the Bishop of Fiesole by Tino da Camaino; Ghiberti's lovely tombstone for Leonardo Dati (1423); the Tomb of Filippo Strozzi by Benedetto da Maiano (1491); Vasari's Madonna of the Rosary (1568); the Miracle of Jesus by Bronzino. Be sure to stop for a while in the Cappella Maggiore (or Tornabuoni Chapel), with a fine bronze Crucifix by Giambologna on the altar and frescoes with the Stories of St. John the Baptist and Stories of the Madonna by Domenico Ghirlandaio, late 15th cent.; the Gondi Chapel, by Giuliano da Sangallo, with fragments of frescoes by 13th-century Greek painters on the vault and Brunelleschi's famous Crucifix on the back wall; the Cappella Strozzi di Mantova, with frescoes of the Last Judgement on the back wall, Hell on the right wall and Paradise on the left, by Nardo di Cione or Orcagna. The gate to the left of the facade leads to the First Cloister, in Romanesque style (1350) frescoed with Scenes from the Old Testament by Paolo Uccello (now in the Refectory). From here, through the Chiostrino dei Morti, one arrives at the Chiostro Grande, with more than fifty arches and completely lined with frescoes by Florentine masters of the 15th and 16th centuries (generally not open to the public since it is now used by the armed forces).


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