17 October 2011

5 of Florence's Most Beautiful Churches

Just because Florence is a small city, doesn't mean it deserves any less time than a city such as Paris or Tokyo. Florence is full of gems just waiting to be explored - and its churches are testimony to that. They come in all shapes and sizes, from the grand and intricate to the quiet and unassuming. I loved visiting as many of these churches as I could - and with Florence being so small, you could easily visit a couple in a day. Here are 5 of my favorites:

1. The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore

This Basilica, also known as the Duomo, is the focal point of the city. It's a huge, imposing structure and was a sign of Florence's wealth and strength. Its dome remains the largest brick dome in the world. I loved walking by this church frequently, admiring its sheer size and the intricate design of the facade. I got the chance to go inside as well, and while beautiful, the Duomo is much more impressive on the outside than on the inside. If you get a chance to go up the bell tower, you will be rewarded with a sweeping view of the entire city.

The Basilica's dome - a feat of engineering.

               The Basilica's facade.                                              The mural on the inside of the dome.

I loved the colors of the facade (coincidentally the colors of the Italian flag.)

1.5. The Florence Baptistery

Technically part of the Duomo complex above, I still wanted to highlight this beautiful site. The Baptistery is located right across from the Duomo and is minuscule in comparison. Most famous for its bronze doors which depict various Bible stories, they are quite innovative for the time as their subjects appear to be leaping off their panels. I recommend going inside as well - its ceiling is spectacular!

                     Florence's Baptistery                                                Ghiberti's bronze panels

The ceiling of the Baspistery. I was looking at this for, seriously, half an hour.

2. Basilica di Santa Croce

previously wrote about Santa Croce, and having been one of my favorite spots in Florence,  it only makes sense that it be featured on this list. I loved this church because it has a similar facade (on a smaller scale) to the Duomo, in a more laid-back surrounding. Going inside is a true treasure as well as there are a lot of beautiful pieces of art as well as the tombs of both Michelangelo and Galileo.

                Florence's Santa Croce                                       Michelangelo's tomb inside the Santa Croce

3. Brancacci Chapel

This chapel is the complete opposite of the Duomo. Unassuming and rather plain on the outside, but breathtaking on the inside. It houses some of the most amazing frescoes in Renaissance history, dating back to 1425. It's a little overwhelming to be in the presence of such history and the genius of painters Masaccio and Masolino. Located further south than the rest of the churches on this list, I feel Brancacci Chapel gets the space it deserves. It's not swarming with as many people and you really get to enjoy the masterpieces.

The outside of Brancacci Chapel.

Where all the action is - some of history's most famous art.

4. San Lorenzo

While the exterior is similar to the Brancacci Chapel, it has an adjoining dome in the back. It is one of the oldest churches in Florence and is home to some great works of art and architecture. It is also famous for Michelangelo's grand staircase and the Laurentian Library. No photos are allowed inside the church, so you'll have to spend extra time inside to let it truly sink into your memory.

San Lorenzo's exterior

5. San Marco

San Marco is both a church and a convent. Fra Angelico, a famous painter lived here in the 15th century and the convent is now a museum which shows off many of his works. I love his style of art (somehow standing out in the sea of Renaisaance artists) and I enjoyed the way it was presented in San Marco. There are a series of rooms that you can peak inside, each one with a fresco on one of the walls. It almost felt like discovering the art for yourself and getting to appreciate it on your own - which can be so rare in a museum!

The outside of San Marco

Fra Angelico's The Annunciation

Fra Angelico and Benozzo Gozzoli: Adoration of the Magi. I love the 3D effect of this one,
with Christ in the cubby below.

1 comment:

  1. Florence is a Museum City. http://www.satelliteview.org/satellite/Florence


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