Church of S. Croce

This monument 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.
The Basilica of  Santa Croce, one of the largest churches in the city, is attributed to the genius of Arnolfo di Cambio who seems to have begun work in 1294. Work continued into the second half of the 14th century but the church was not consecrated until 1443. The facade with its three gables dates to the 19th century (project by N. Matas) and the campanile in Gothic style also dates to this period (1847, project by G. Baccani).

A portico of airy arches runs along the left flank and shelters the 14th-century tomb or Francesco Pazzi. On the right side of the church are the Cloisters, with the Pazzi Chapel in the background, and the Museo dell'Opera di S. Croce. The imposing interior has a nave and two si de aisles separated by slender octagonal piers from which spring spacious pointed arches with a double moulding. The beauty of the Church has been partially obfuscated by 16th-century remodelling.

The floor is covered with old tombstones for the entire length of the nave which has a trussed timber ceiling. The transept has a number of chapels, including the Cappella Maggiore with the Legend or the Ho/y Cross (1380) by Agnolo Gaddi. On the altar is Gerini's polyptych with the Madonna and Saints and, above, the Crucifix of the school of Giotto, A Deposition from the Cross (cartoon by Lorenzo Chiberti) in stained glass can be admired on the interior facade. Below to the right is the Monument to Gino Capponi (1876), and to the left that to G. B. Niccolini (1883). A splendid marble pulpit by Benedetto da Maiano (1472-76) stands in the nave. To be noted in the right aisle, at the first altar, is a Crucifixion by Santi di Tito (1579); on the first pier is the famous bas-relief by Antonio Rossellino (1478) of the Madonna del Latte. The stained-glass windows date to the 14th century.

The most famous funeral monuments are along the walls of the right aisle. These include the monument to Dante Alighieri by Ricci (1829); to Michelangelo, by Vasari (1579); to Alfieri, by Canova (1803); to Machiavelli, by I. Spinazzi (1787). Fragments of frescoes by Orcagna are to be seen behind the fourth altar and further on is Domenico Veneziano's fine fresco (1450) of St. John the Baptist and S. Francis.