Santa Croce is the church of the Franciscans in Florence 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.
When you leave the church, visit the Pazzi Chapel designed and built by Filippo Brunelleschi. Funding for the Pazzi chapel were assembled by Andrea Pazzi in in the year 1429. He was head of the Pazzi family, their banking wealth was second to the Medici. Construction of the building began around 1442.
At the entrance of Pazzi chapel, there is a portico that constitutes the chapel facade. The loggia was built and decorated in grey sandstone and decorated with terracotta. It has 6 Corinthian columns plus a center entrance that is raised like a triumphal arch. As people walk under it, they will see the elaborate, vivid decoration that’s inside the dome that Luca della Robbia created in glazed terracotta. Beneath, there is a roundel, also by Robbia, depicting Saint Andrea, Andrea de’ Pazzi patron saint.
The Pazzi Chapel is south of the church. You can also visit the secret garden and cloisters.
The Pazzi Chapel was designed by Brunelleschi in 1429. 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 beaurtiful roundels, which are among the best creations of Robbia, have blues that contrast the grey and white of the walls. Brunelleschi designed the ones that are placed at the 4 sides of the dome. Underneath the roundels, you can see the Pazzi family coat of arms and with two dolphins.
While the construction work on the Pazzi Chapel was still in progress, a tragic incident occurred in Florence known as the Pazzi Conspiracy or Congiura dei Pazzi. The Pazzi family got involved in planning the murder of Lorenzo de’ Medic and his brother Giuliano. It happened on 26 April 26, 1478, when the 2 brothers were attending mass in Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral). They were attacked by Pazzi supporters with the help of the Pope. The Pazzi family wanted to end the Medici leadership over Florence. They killed Giuliano, but Lorenzo managed to escape.
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.
On November 17, 2015, they launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the restoration of the Pazzi Chapel Loggia, one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture, in the Santa Croce complex. make your contribution here: http://www.santacroceopera.it/en/Opera_Sponsor.aspx
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides to Italy at www.vino-con-vista.com