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Basilica of Santa Croce: Florence's Artistic and Spiritual Heritage

The Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy, is more than just a church; it's a treasure trove of history, art, and spirituality. Standing in the Piazza Santa Croce, the church's elegant façade captivates the eyes of locals and visitors. But beyond its beauty, the Basilica of Santa Croce is a monument that encapsulates the essence of Florence's rich cultural heritage.

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exterior of santa croce in florence, italy

The story of the Basilica began in 1294 when the construction started under the direction of Arnolfo di Cambio, the renowned architect behind Florence's Cathedral. The church was consecrated in 1442, and its stunning Gothic architecture reflects the religious and artistic sensibilities of the time. Although the original façade was left unfinished, it was later completed in the 19th century, adding a neo-Gothic touch to the structure.

Inside, the Basilica houses an impressive collection of art, including frescoes by Giotto, a crucifix by Cimabue, and tombs designed by Donatello. These masterpieces not only attest to the church's significance as a repository of art but also to its role in fostering creativity and innovation during the Renaissance period.

One of the most striking features of the Basilica is its collection of funerary monuments. Dubbed as the "Temple of the Italian Glories," Santa Croce is the final resting place for many prominent Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Gioachino Rossini. The tombs themselves are works of art and reflect the profound connection between the church and the intellectual and artistic achievements of the nation.

The Basilica's cloisters and chapels are equally fascinating. The Pazzi Chapel, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, is a marvel of Renaissance architecture, showcasing geometric harmony and spatial innovation. Its elegant dome and serene ambiance make it a place for contemplation and appreciation of human creativity.

The church also played a role in social and communal life. The adjoining Scuola di Santa Croce served as a center for education, and the convent was home to a community of Franciscan friars. The church's role in education and religious life illustrates the multifaceted nature of its legacy.

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