Famous Churches -The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross),Florence, Italy


The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross)  is truly unique, not only for the purity of the Gothic style, but also for the famous works of art it contains and its historical importance. Santa Croce, rebuilt for the Franciscan order in 1294 by Arnolfo di Cambio, is the burial place for the great and good in Florence. Michelangelo is buried in Santa Croce, as are Rossini, Machiavelli, and the Pisan-born Galileo Galilei, who was tried by the Inquisition and was not allowed a Christian burial until 1737, 95 years after his death. There is also a memorial to Dante, but his sarcophagus is empty. The present basilica, traditionally attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio, was built from 1295, on the site where, around 1210, the first Franciscan Friars to arrive in Florence had a small oratory. Santa Croce is planned as an Egyptian cross (in the shape of a T), with an open timber roof; there are many tomb slabs set into the pavement. The nave is wide and well-lit, with massive widely-spaced piers supporting pointed arches. The facade with its three gables dates to the 19th century and the campanile in Gothic style also dates to this period. A portico of airy arches runs along the left flank and shelters the 14th-century tomb of Francesco Pazzi. The imposing interior has a nave and two side aisles separated by slender octagonal piers from which spring spacious pointed arches with a double molding. The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross),Florence, Italy also contains numerous examples of typically Renaissance sculpture. The most famous of these is the Crucifix by Donatello (1425, Bardi Chapel in the left transept) and his aristocratic Annunciation in grey stone with gilded highlights (1430-35), recently restored by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. The Pulpit by Benedetto da Maiano (1472-80) or the Madonna of Milk by Antonio Rossellino (1478), placed above the tomb of Francesco Nori, prior of the Republic, who died saving Lorenzo the Magnificent life at the time of the ” Pazzi Conspiracy”, the two funeral monuments by Bernardo Rossellino (1444-1451) and Desiderio da Settignano (1455-64). The former, dedicated to Leonardo Bruni (1369-1444), humanist and Chancellor of the Republic, is considered a prototype among Renaissance tomb monuments.

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