The Basilica of Santa Croce, an appointment with history
The Basilica of Santa Croce is situated in the homonymous square in Florence, a symbol of the entire city and a landmark in the medieval and Renaissance era for artists, politicians, writers, theologians, religious and humanists. Most likely it was built by Arnolfo di Cambio at the end of the thirteenth century and it was continually supplemented, becoming one of the largest Franciscan churches and one of the best examples of Gothic art in Italy. The Basilica of Santa Croce is one of the places to visit during a holiday in Tuscany, to appreciate in every its aspect, from the outside, with the three lunettes of the portals depicting the legend of the True Cross, the “Finding of the Cross”, the “Triumph of the Cross”, the “Vision of Constantine”, and three bronze doors that characterized the cathedral until 1903.
The Basilica of Santa Croce has a particular external profile, with triangular tympanums with false bells of the nave. More recent is the Bell Tower built in the mid 1800’s, graceful and slender, though decidedly more modern than the rest of the building. Also in the exterior, to the left of the square, we find the great monument to Dante Alighieri by Enrico Pazzi. The interior of the Basilica of Santa Croce has a nave and two aisles separated by lines of octagonal columns. The whole space looks simple but monumental, with an Egyptian cross shape and a large transept. The four chapels are particularly rich in extraordinary works of Agnolo Gaddi, Niccolò Gerini, Giovanni del Biondo, Jacopo del Casentino, but over everyone stand out the frescoes by Giotto, who, in this case, reach a very high level of beauty. His frescoes in this basilica reach the highest heights of beauty and are considered some of the most significant masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.
The intricate details and vivid colors of Giotto’s frescoes in the Basilica of Santa Croce depict various scenes from the life of St. Francis, the basilica’s patron saint, and are a testament to the skill and talent of Giotto, considered one of the greatest artists of his time. In addition to the breathtaking frescoes, the Basilica of Santa Croce also boasts a splendid altar made of marble and precious stones and is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures depicting the life of Christ.
The triumph of the art in the Basilica of Santa Croce
The Basilica of Santa Croce is also a veritable pantheon that houses the tombs of famous historical figures, such as Ugo Foscolo, Michelangelo, Galileo, Gioacchino Rossini, Leon Battista Alberti, Vittorio Alfieri, Leonardo Bruni and Julia and Charlotte Bonaparte.
One of the most notable features of the Basilica of Santa Croce is the Niccolini Chapel, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. This chapel is famous for its beautiful frescoes and intricate artwork and is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. However, it is also known for a darker reason: the “Stendhal Syndrome“.
Named after the French writer Stendhal, who visited the chapel in the early 19th century, the syndrome is a psychological condition that causes individuals to become overwhelmed by the beauty of art or architecture. Symptoms can include dizziness, fainting and even hallucinations. Although some may be frightened by the idea of such a condition, the Niccolini Chapel is known to have triggered these reactions in some visitors.
The complex, located just 600 metres from the 4-star Hotel Brunelleschi, is today also a valuable reference point for the many art lovers who, inside it they can admire numerous exhibitions, continuously renewed. Of course, there will also be space for faith, with the Niccolini Chapel, in which Stendhal accused the legendary “syndrome”.
Ticket office open until 17:00.
The Basilica of Santa Croce is open from Monday to Saturday from 09:30 to 17:30; Sundays and holidays of obligation (Epiphany, Assumption, All Saints and the Immaculate Conception), from 12:30 to 17:45.
- Full price ticket: € 8,00
- Reduced price ticket: € 6,00 under 18 years
- Free admission for:
- Children under 11 years with adult
- Residents of Florence and province
- Disabled Travellers and their own assistant
- Professional Licensed Tour Guides
- Professional Licensed Tour Leaders
- Family ticket: full price ticket (= € 8,00) for adults and free admission for children younger than age 18
Discover every wonderful corner of the Basilica of Santa Croce