Visit Santa Maria Novella in Florence and discover Renaissance
When in Florence, churches will be a constant (and consistent) part of your city tours. From the magnificent Duomo Cathedral to the three-floor Orsanmichele, in this city you’ll see any kind of church. Churches are like books, telling us the history of the city: many of the most important events were held in churches. The one that still holds nowadays most of its functions is the one of Santa Maria Novella Church, right next to the Central railway station that was named after it. Chronologically, it is the first great basilica in Florence and it still contains works from almost all the most famous Italian artists of the Renaissance. These are some of the reasons why we strongly advise you to visit Santa Maria Novella! If you haven’t already, you can follow one of our amazing Florence Tours and let us guide you in this wonderful city of mystery and artistic talent.
The original church of Santa Maira Nuova, which used to stand on its place, is dated from the 9th century and it was called Santa Maria delle Vigne. Probably, this is the reason why there is still nowadays a street called via della Vigna Nuova near Santa Maria Novella square (vigna means vineyard). The site was assigned to the Dominican Order in 1221 and it was then that a new (Novella) church was build, together with the adjoining cloister. The new church was build between the mid-13th century until 1360. As it used to happen quite often at that time, only the lower part of the façade was completed. It was only around one hundred years later when on a commission from Giovanni di Paolo Rucellai, the well-known architect Leon Battista Alberti finished the upper part of the marble façade of the church.
There are many famous spots of this church: the pulpit, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, is the one from which the first verbal attack was made on Galileo Galilei. There are works from the most famous artists of that time, such as Masaccio, Ghiberti Giambologna, Ghirlandaio, Domenico Ghirlandaio and even the young Michelangelo. Basically by visiting this church, you will have a general idea of the complete scenario of the Renaissance.
We don’t want to say anything further and spoil your visit to Santa Maria Novella Church and square, so we’ll add only one of the many secrets of this church: the two obelisks in the square used to mark the beginning and the end of a race that used to animate the square every year between the 14h and the 19th century: Il Palio dei Cocchi. To find out more, join our tours and discover the amazing history of Florence!