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Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

P.za di Santa Maria Novella, 18, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

EUR 12

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expert
Ambra
Local tour guide
"Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in the late afternoon when the sun bathes the facade in golden light – it's the perfect time for photography. Also, don't miss the small, secluded garden towards the back of the complex; it's a tranquil spot most tourists don't know about where you can absorb the serene atmosphere."

What is Basilica of Santa Maria Novella?

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is a treasure that proudly stands near the Florence train station of the same name. Reflecting the sublime architectural prowess of the Italian Renaissance, this basilica is one of the city's most important religious, cultural, and artistic landmarks. With its elegant facade of white and green marble, it's a captivating sight even for those who've seen it countless times.

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Step through its doors, and you're greeted by an awe-inspiring interior that houses a wealth of art including frescoes, paintings, and sculptures created by some of the most illustrious names of the era, such as Masaccio, Giotto, and Filippino Lippi. It's not just a church; it's a veritable gallery of the Renaissance where spirituality and artistry intertwine seamlessly.

History of Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

It was back in the mid-13th century when the story of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella began, its first stones laid by the Dominican friars upon the ruins of a 10th-century Oratory dedicated to Santa Maria delle Vigne. Initially designed by two Dominican friars, Fra Sisto Fiorentino and Fra Ristoro da Campi, the church's construction went on for several decades. As Florence prospered, so did the ambitions for the church, with contributions from notable families financing its embellishments.

In 1470, the facade received its distinctive completion by the illustrious architect Leon Battista Alberti, who cleverly balanced the existing Gothic structure with the principles of classic Roman architecture. This innovative design became an influential model for Renaissance church facades, blending pre-existing Gothic elements with Renaissance ideals of harmony and proportion. The basilica also survived the flood of 1966, which caused substantial damage but resulted in extensive renovations that have preserved its splendor for future generations.

Why is Basilica of Santa Maria Novella Important?

Ask any art historian or devout Florentine, and they'll tell you that the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is important not just as a place of worship; it's a testament to the flowering of the human spirit during the Renaissance. The church's sheer beauty and architectural prowess signify Florence's status as the cradle of the Renaissance, with the basilica's walls acting as a canvas for the period's defining artistic talents.

Furthermore, the basilica is a historical narrative in stone and paint, recounting Florence's rise, the influence of powerful families like the Medici, and the evolving styles of art from the 13th to the 18th centuries. It is a place where history, culture, and faith are intricately interwoven, rendering it an indispensable piece of Florentine identity.

Things to Do & See at Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

Upon entering the basilica, one can spend hours admiring the grandiose interior which is divided into several naves. A must-see is the Tornabuoni Chapel, with frescoes by Ghirlandaio that were patronized by one of Florence's wealthiest families, and display scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist that are considered masterpieces of Renaissance art.

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But let me share with you some less known treasures of the basilica: The Green Cloister, with its striking frescoes, many of which were damaged by weather but still tell a powerful story; or the Spanish Chapel, which was once the chapter house and is adorned with Andrea di Bonaiuto's dramatic frescoes depicting the allegory of the Active and Triumphant Church.

  • For those with a keen eye, seek out the Holy Trinity, Masaccio's groundbreaking fresco that revolutionized the use of perspective in art.
  • Don't miss the Strozzi Chapel, where Filippino Lippi's frescoes effortlessly combine the Gothic and Renaissance styles.
  • Take a quiet moment in the sacristy to see Bronzino's serene 'Christ Carrying the Cross' and ponder the artistry of a Mannerist master.

Each corner of Santa Maria Novella offers something to discover – from hidden details in the artworks to the lingering notes of Gregorian chants during evening vespers. It's more than just a tourist spot; it's a legacy written in art and architecture that continues to inspire awe and reverence. Remember to look up as well, for even the ceilings speak volumes in this historical masterpiece.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella?

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is a renowned church in Florence, Italy, famous for its stunning Gothic and Renaissance architecture, and for its art, including frescoes by masters like Giotto and Masaccio.

What are the opening hours for the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella?

The Basilica typically opens to visitors from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM on weekdays and 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekends, but times may vary so it is recommended to check the official website or contact the basilica directly prior to visiting.

Is there an entrance fee for the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella?

Yes, there is generally an entrance fee to visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, which includes access to the church, its chapels, and the museum. Discounts may be available for students, children, and seniors.

What famous artworks are housed in the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella?

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella houses a wealth of artworks including Masaccio's 'Trinity' fresco, Ghirlandaio's frescoes in the Tornabuoni Chapel, and Giotto's Crucifix, among others.

How can I get to the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella?

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is conveniently located near the central train station of Florence, Firenze Santa Maria Novella, making it easily accessible by train, bus, or on foot from anywhere in the city center.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

P.za di Santa Maria Novella, 18, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

EUR 12

Find it on google maps