Florence’s oldest church, the Basilica di San Lorenzo is today mainly famous for the many wonderful museums it includes. Despite its rough front, the church has a harmonious interior whose gracefulness is quintessential Florentine Renaissance architecture.
Florence’s oldest church, the Basilica di San Lorenzo is today mainly famous for the many wonderful museums it includes. Despite its rough front, the church has a harmonious interior whose gracefulness is quintessential Florentine Renaissance architecture. The present complex is the result of the XVth century intervention financed by the Medicis and supervised by celebrity architect Filippo Brunelleschi who would have astonished the Florentines in a short while with the making of the Duomo’s dome. Brunelleschi could barely finish his masterpiece when he died in 1446 leaving to his followers the finalization of the construction sites he had inaugurated. San Lorenzo Church was completed by his pupil Antonio Manetti who also intervened to finish another great temple designed by his master: Santo Spirito Basilica. Anyway neither Brunelleschi nor his pupil ever finished the facade of the Medicis’ church.
It was only in the early 1500s that the Medicis thought about a successor architect to complete the complex: Michelangelo. He lived with the Medicis when he was a teen and, once grown up, he was commissioned by his former protectors for the final tribute: the completion of the family’s church. The great but fickle genius of the Renaissance drew up a too ambitious project that found only partial expression inside the building with the construction of the inner facade. The master also designed (but never completed) two more important sections of San Lorenzo: the New Sacristy and the Laurentian Library. While designing the Sacristy, Michelangelo looked at what Brunelleschi had done before him while making the Old Sacristy (the burial chapel of the early Medicis). He eventually overloaded the chapel with statues, arches, pilaster strips and fake windows turning the Renaissance simplicity into something eccentric and that would soon become peculiar to his style.
The Library was commissioned later and the master never finished it personally but gave instructions to his Florentine followers.The facade still remains unadorned nowadays after so many centuries. Anyhow, Michelangelo was only partially responsible for leaving the rough facade without a proper architecture: violent upheavels and lack of funds were both two key factors. A visit to San Lorenzoin Florence will make you delve into the city’s past and help understand the Renaissance. Not only will you enjoy some of the greatest artworks of the 14 and 1500s but also one of the few examples of Baroque art in town. How not to visit the Medici Chapels in Florence and the sumptuous Chapel of the Princes, a magnificent architectural and sculptural masterpiece completely covered with colored marbles and other precious and semi-precious stones. Inside the effect is of great opulence. And ho not to pay tribute to the Medicis, whose bodies are interred in the crypt and whose memory will never die.
If you’re spending a couple of days in the Tuscan capital, please do not skip San Lorenzo Church, the Laurentian Library, Michelangelo’s New Sacristy and the Medici Chapels in Florence. You’ll love them. Book a custom and private tour of the San Lorenzo Church and the Medici Chapels with a private guide of Florence.
Museum of Medici Chapels
The ticket office closes at 13.20
Closure tasks start at 13.35
Closed on the 2nd and 4th Sunday and 1st, 3rd and 5th Monday of each month, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day.