Santa Croce is the church of the Franciscans and was built in the Italian gothic style. It was completed in 1442.
The Neo-Gothic façade was re-clad in 1863 in pink, green and white Tuscan marble. It is located in the Piazza di Santa Croce.
It is dubbed the “National Pantheon” because it has tombs or centotaphs of the greatest Italians. A centotaph is a funerary monument without the remains of the deceased.
The six-pointed star in the central tympanum is Medieval and these rays symbolize St. Bernadino. In Christian art, there are many saints associated with this star: St. Bruno bears a star on his breast; Saint Dominic, Saint Humbert and Saint Peter of Alcantara have this star on their head or forehead.
The beautiful bell tower was rebuilt in 1842 by Gaetano Baccani because it was destroyed by a bolt of lightning in 1512.
South of the church, visit the secret garden and cloisters. The Pazzi Chapel was designed by Brunelleschi. It is set in front of the neo-Gothic bell-tower. The chapel is adorned by terracotta tondi of the apostles by Luca della Robbia and by roundels of the Evangelists by Donatello.
The Main Chapel was commissioned by Jacopo degli Alberti. The polyptych on the altar was redone in the 19th century and portrays the Virgin, Saints and Fathers of the Church crowned by a large crucifix by “Maestro de Figline” who worked in Giotto’s workshop. There is a beautiful Polyptych by Giotto and his pupils in the Baroncelli Chapel.
The Florentine Pantheon has tombs and monuments to legendary citizens. Many marble tombstones cover the floor of Santa Croce.
Renaissance tombs exalted the dead person’s achievements on earth. Most of the monuments is Santa Croce have designated allegorical figures to depict the earthly accomplishments of the deceased. The wall of the right nave contains the “Monument to Michelangelo” by Vasari (1570).
Michelangelo returned to Florence between in 1499–1501, after after the fall Girolamo Savonarola who was executed in 1498. Michelangelo was asked to complete a colossal statue portraying David that was started 40 years earlier by Agostino di Duccio.
The Statue of David would occupy a prominent spot in the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Today the statue outside the Palazzo Vecchio is a replica. The real David is in the Academia in Florence.
This famous sculpture was made from a marble block from the quarries at Carrara.
When Michelangelo died, Vasari erected his tomb in Santa Croce. The sarcophagus is surrounded by allegorical figures of “Painting” by Battista Lorenzi, “Sculpture” by Valerio Cioli and “Architecture” by Giovanni dell’Opera. The bust of Michelangelo was carved by Lorenzi. The beautiful frescoes that flank the monument were done by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides to Italy at www.vino-con-vista.com
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