church of santa croce in florence italy

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  Church of Santa Croce  

Address: Piazza Santa Croce
This monument is truly unique, not only for the purity of the Gothic style, but also for the famous works of art it contains and its historical importance. The Basilica of Santa Croce, one of the largest churches in the city, is attributed to the genius of Arnolfo di Cambio who seems to have begun work in 1294. Work continued into the second half of the 14th century but the church was not consecrated until 1443. The facade with its three gables dates to the 19th century (project by N. Matas) and the campanile in Gothic style also dates to this period (1847, project by G. Baccani). A portico of airy arches runs along the left flank and shelters the 14th-century tomb of Francesco Pazzi. On the right side of the church are the Cloisters, with the Pazzi Chapel in the background, and the Museo dell'Opera di S. Croce. The imposing interior has a nave and two side aisles separated by slender octagonal piers from which spring spacious pointed arches with a double molding. The beauty of the Church has been partially obfuscated by 16th-century remodelling. The floor is covered with old tombstones for the entire length of the nave which has a trussed timber ceiling. The transept has a number of chapels, including the Cappella Maggiore with the Legend of the Holy Cross (1380) by Agnolo Gaddi. On the altar is Gerini's polyptych with the Madonna and Saints and, above, the Crucifix of the school of Giotto. A Deposition from the Cross (cartoon by Lorenzo Ghiberti) in stained glass can be admired on the interior facade. Below to the right is the Monument to Gino Capponi (1876), and to the left that to G. B. Niccolini (1883). A splendid marble pulpit by Benedetto da Maiano (1472-76) stands in the nave. To be noted in the right aisle, at the first altar, is a Crucifixion by Santi di Tito (1579); on the first pier is the famous bas-relief by Antonio Rossellino (1478) of the Madonna del Latte. The stained-glass windows date to the 14th century. The most famous funeral monuments are along the walls of the right aisle. These include the monument to Dante Alighieri by Ricci (1829); to Michelangelo, by Vasari (1579); to Alfieri, by Canova (1803); to Machiavelli, by I. Spinazzi (1787).
Fragments of frescoes by Orcagna are to be seen behind the fourth altar and further on is Domenico Veneziano's fine fresco (1450) of St. John the Baptist and St. Francis.
Next comes the tabernacle in pietra serena by Donatello and Michelozzo with the Annunciation (1435 c.) by Donatello. and then the Tomb of Leonardo Bruni by Bernardo Rossellino, the funeral monument to Rossini and the one to Foscolo. The right arm of the transept contains the Castellani Chapel superbly frescoed by Agnolo Gaddi (1385) with Stories of the Saints. On the altar a Crucifix by Gerini.
At the end of the transept is the Baroncelli Chapel, with the splendid Gothic tomb of the Baroncelli family and a lunette with a Madonna by Taddeo Gaddi. The frescoes on the walls with Stories of Mary are also by Gaddi and the Madonna of the Girdle is by Bastiano Mainardi (1490). The Coronation of the Virgin on the altar is by Giotto.
Michelozzo's portal leads to the Sacristy, with the Rinuccini Chapel, frescoed with Stories of the Magdalen and the Virgin by Giovanni da Milano. The fine altarpiece is by Giovanni del Biondo (1379).
Michelozzo's Medici Chapel, built for Cosimo the Elder, is at the back. It contains a magnificent bas-relief by Donatello and various works by the Della Robbias. Various chapels (14th- cent.) with important works open off the central zone of the transept.
These include the Velluti Chapel with Stories of St. Michael Archangel, perhaps by Cimabue; the Chapels of the Peruzzi and the Bardi families frescoed by Giotto with Stories of St. John the Evangelist (1320) and Stories of St. Francis (1318); the Tosinghi Chapel with the Assumption in Heaven, also by Giotto; the Pulci Chapel with frescoes by Bernardo Daddi. Of particular note in the left aisle is the Marsuppini Sepulcher by Desiderio da Settignano.


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