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Basilica di San Lorenzo

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza di San Lorenzo, 9, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 5:30 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

EUR 9

Find it on google maps

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expert
Ambra
Local tour guide
"Visit the Basilica di San Lorenzo early in the morning or during the last hour before closing to avoid the crowds and experience the serene atmosphere at its best. Don't miss the Medici Chapels at the back of the church; they're often overlooked by tourists but contain some of the most beautiful sculptures by Michelangelo."

What is Basilica di San Lorenzo?

Welcome to the Basilica di San Lorenzo, one of the most venerable churches in Florence and a prime example of Renaissance architecture. This isn't just a church; it's a repository of art and history, nestled right in the heart of the city's bustling market area. Designed by Brunelleschi, who is also known for engineering the dome of the nearby Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Basilica di San Lorenzo’s restrained exterior belies the rich artistic heritage housed within its walls.

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The church we see today actually dates back to the early Renaissance period, though its roots are much older, stretching back to late antiquity. It serves as the final resting place for many members of the Medici family, Florence's famous patrons of the arts who were largely responsible for the blossoming of the Renaissance in the city. The complex also includes the Old Sacristy, the New Sacristy, which holds Michelangelo's Medici tombs, the Laurentian Library, and the Capelle Medicee, a mausoleum that also showcases stunning works of art.

History of Basilica di San Lorenzo

The story of the Basilica di San Lorenzo is as old as Florence itself. Originally consecrated in 393, it was rebuilt in the 11th century and then again in the 15th century, when the Medici family commissioned Brunelleschi for the redesign. This makes it one of the oldest churches in Florence, and a silent witness to centuries of the city’s developments, conflicts, and triumphs.

After Brunelleschi's death, his designs for the church were carried forward by his pupils, and the Basilica was consecrated by Pope Eugene IV in 1421. Throughout the years, the Basilica has seen additions by several renowned artists, including Michelangelo and Donatello, enhancing its status as a significant art and architectural treasure in Italy.

Why is Basilica di San Lorenzo Important?

The Basilica di San Lorenzo holds immense cultural, historic, and religious significance in Florence. It stands as a testament to the architectural innovation of the Renaissance, particularly the developments in perspective and proportion that Brunelleschi pioneered. These weren’t merely aesthetic choices; they echoed the spirit of humanism that was at the heart of the Renaissance.

It’s also significant as the parish church of the Medici family, whose influence on Florence is immeasurable. Many consider the Medici family to be among the foremost supporters of the arts and sciences during the Renaissance, and their patronage had a profound influence on the course of European art history. The church's Laurentian Library is a herald of this legacy, containing one of the most significant collections of manuscripts in the world.

Things to Do & See at Basilica di San Lorenzo

Strolling through the Basilica di San Lorenzo offers so much more than a traditional church visit. Inside, you'll be greeted by a harmonious combination of art and architecture, such as the coffered ceilings, the serene Old Sacristy by Brunelleschi, and the intricate pulpits by Donatello. Don’t forget to look up to admire the gilded ceiling of the nave, a feature that subtly showcases the wealth of the Medici family.

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Next, head to Michelangelo's New Sacristy, which he designed as a mausoleum for the Medici. Here, you'll find the sculptor’s powerful ‘Medici Tombs’ — breathtaking sculptures embodying day and night, dawn and dusk. Stepping into the grandeur of the Laurentian Library, you’re not just entering a repository of knowledge but also an architectural masterpiece. The Reading Room with Michelangelo’s innovative staircase is a sight to behold.

And of course, there’s the Capelle Medicee, adorned with masterpieces of baroque art and the ornate Chapel of the Princes, a grandiose octagonal chamber housing the tombs of the Medici Grand Dukes. Beyond the spiritual and artistic, the surrounding piazza and markets offer a slice of Florentine life, buzzing with activity and the perfect spot to find a local delicacy or a handmade souvenir to remember your visit by.

Frequently asked questions

What is the historical significance of the Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence?

The Basilica di San Lorenzo is one of the oldest churches in Florence and served as the parish church of the Medici family. It's historically significant as the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family and is a notable example of Renaissance architecture.

Who designed the Basilica di San Lorenzo and what are its architectural highlights?

The Basilica di San Lorenzo was originally designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, a key figure in Renaissance architecture. Its architectural highlights include the Old Sacristy, the New Sacristy designed by Michelangelo, and the elegant cloister.

Can visitors see the Medici tombs inside the Basilica di San Lorenzo?

Yes, visitors can see the Medici tombs in the New Sacristy, which features sculptures by Michelangelo, and in the Medici Chapel, which displays the grandiose tombs of the later Medici.

What are the opening hours of the Basilica di San Lorenzo, and is there an entry fee?

The Basilica di San Lorenzo typically opens from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM, but hours may vary, so it's recommended to check in advance. There is an entry fee, but it includes access to multiple parts of the complex, such as the church, the library, and the Medici Chapels.

Are there any notable works of art inside the Basilica di San Lorenzo?

The Basilica di San Lorenzo houses numerous works of art by prominent Renaissance artists, including sculptures by Donatello in the Old Sacristy, frescoes by Bronzino, and works by Michelangelo in the New Sacristy.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Piazza di San Lorenzo, 9, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 5:30 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

EUR 9

Find it on google maps