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“Ugly on the Outside BUT Beautiful on the Inside !”

Basilica di San Lorenzo
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Private Medici Chapels and San Lorenzo Square Guided Visit
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Genoa Shore Excursion: Genoa Independent Sightseeing Experience with Private...
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Private Guided Tour of Florence Basilicas and Their Cloisters
Ranked #54 of 655 things to do in Florence
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Owner description: Dating back to before 400 AD, this church is the oldest existing religious structure in the city.
Reviewed April 10, 2012

The church of San Lorenzo (Basilica di San Lorenzo) is my '6th place' attraction in Florence.

Boy is the facade of this church ugly ! BUT don't let that deter you as whilst that initial view of the imposing church exterior is unlikely to provoke you into entering, along with the advantage of this being one of several places you can visit on a Monday it is also a perfect destination if the weather is inclement as everything of interest is under cover and quite beautiful. So ignore initial impressions and make your way inside this gargantuan structure....

I am compiling an extensive Trip Advisor 'Trip List' for my recent 6 full-day visit to see the sights of Florence. Please fell free to access it via my TA Profile - I hope it is of interest and use to you and I hope all of my individual reviews/photos get posted properly as I know from past experience that the Trip Advisor submission process sometimes, incorrectly, 'blocks' them despite me being a so-called 'Senior Contributor'.....

Also, video submissions are not linked to a review and are not identified to a member when you look at them on the specific webpage. The best way to look at videos of mine that I mention is going via my TA profile then clicking the 'Videos' link.

Just before covering my personal views of the church, please note that as official information sources can change and the Internet links at the top of each attraction webpage on Trip Advisor can be wrong (or even absent !) I deal with visitor information/ticketing etc in the dedicated section for the attraction in my TA Trip List. This is because I have sole-control over that, can add Internet links and can edit/update it with ease to reflect changes (reviews cannot be amended after they're posted). It might also contain photos/video links if they fail to get posted with this review or on this webpage....

Firstly, it's worth mentioning that like many attractions photography is banned in toto, which explains why you won't see many unofficial pictures of the sumptuous interior.

Also, there is another adjoining extra-cost attraction (which I didn't visit), namely 'The Medici Chapels' - but be warned, the opening times differ from that of the church !

The interior of the church is quite magnificent, with beautifully painting-adorned naves 'hidden' behind massive columns. Again, like most attractions in Florence, you must remember to look up as the ceiling is also attractively decorated.

The inaccessible 'twin' pulpits (at least I think that what they are) are interesting and quite unusual - I thought they were wonderfully carved coffins on pedestals...!

However, the highlight of the church interior is the Old Sacristy which is stunning, along with an ornately decorated cupola which is also not to be missed.

As I mentioned earlier, things outside are no much to write home about but the cloister area is pleasant enough.

Finally, note that the church entrance ticket gets you into a small crypt area, halfway around the cloister, which contained 'treasure' and some tombs. I thought this area related to the Medici chapels, but you won't find me complaining about this added 'bonus'.

This church is well worth visiting and is much, much more interesting to walk around inside than some other more popular churches in Florence eg Santa Maria Novella. If I could, I would have rated the church with an extra half star, but as it is it gets 3....

1  Thank LPWilliams
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 31, 2012

Of course don't miss the Laurentian Library and the Medici tombs, but the church itself is a great work of Florentine architecture, filled with great art.

Thank NewYorkarchitect
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 29, 2012

This is a real jewel in the city's crown. The place is so connected with the rich history of Renaissance in Firenze. The Medici family tombs, the the glamorous library designed by Michelangelo, the renowned statutes of Day and Night, Dusk and Dawn also by Michelangelo, and the paintings by numerous great artists of the golden time all give chills! San Lorenzo basilica was not on my high priority list when I planned the trip given that I had very little time in the city, but I am so glad I was able to see it! I would say if I had to choose only three places to visit in Firenze it would be Uffizi, Michelangelo Plazza for the city view, and this church.

2  Thank Yuan_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2012

The Medici are buried here (all of them) and the cloisters, library and chapels are wonderful.

Thank tuscanpro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 8, 2012

San Lorenzo has it all. This was the first Renaissance church. Brunelleschi built it in the first flowering of Florentine humanism. Unlike the Duomo, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, etc., San Lorenzo was not built with the idea of overwhelming you with the glory of God. It is designed to inspire you with the glory of God's creature, man. The basic elements of the interior's design are the circle and the square - in the proportions of a man - presaging Leonardo's famous drawing of the man with his arms and legs akimbo, defining the circle and the square. "Man is the measure of all things". The harmony and human scale of this huge church are more reminiscent of a small, New England village church than of the great Gothic basilicas that were built before it and the huge, baroque piles that came later.

Cosimo de Medici and his family took responsibility for rebuilding San Lorenzo, and they hired the greatest masters of the day to do the work. To the left of the altar is the "Old Sacristy", the purest example of Brunelleschi's ideas - with the possible exception of the Pazzi Chapel at Santa Croce. Note the plaques and the superb intarsia doors by Donatello, and the magnificent tomb of Pierro di Cosimo de Medici, by Verrocchio. On the right aisle as you face the altar is a magnificent bas-relief Tabernacle by Desiderio da Settignano, and in the center are two stupendous, if hard to see, bronze pulpits by Donatello, among his very last works. Of course there are tons of other superb works here. Get a good guide book.

Also at San Lorenzo are the superb cloister, with Michelangelo's architectural masterpiece - the library and the staircase leading to it. Around back are the Medici tombs - wretched excess was only the beginning - and the New Sacristy, by Michelangelo, with his tombs for a couple of Medici nobodies, with their celebrated, if unattractive sculptures of "Day" and "Night" and "Dawn" and "Dusk".

4  Thank Uncletomaso
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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