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“A Few Highlights Inside This Smart, Large Church BUT You Really Pay To See Them”

Basilica di Santa Croce
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Entrance and Guided Tour of Santa Croce Basilica
Ranked #9 of 631 things to do in Florence
Certificate of Excellence
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Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: This is the richest medieval church in Florence, which features frescoes by Giotto, a chapel by Brunelleschi and one of the finest of all early Renaissance tombs.
London, UK
Level Contributor
172 reviews
102 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 400 helpful votes
“A Few Highlights Inside This Smart, Large Church BUT You Really Pay To See Them”
Reviewed April 16, 2012

The church of Santa Croce (Basilica di Santa Croce) is my joint '8th place' attraction in Florence, of those I visited.

It's a large church, located on the western side of the city centre, with an attractive frontage (not unlike Duomo) which you can properly capture visually as there is a massive uncluttered adjoining Piazza, which also offers the opportunity for a pleasant rest of the feet whilst soaking up the view. Inside there is a spacious layout housing a lot of individual artistic religious items and also a small separate museum

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'.....

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 photography is allowed. Also, the entrance fee has increased since my visit from a relatively pricey EU5 to an almost extortionate EU6 - there are a lot of far better 'value' churches and attractions to visit than Santa Croce, but they do at least include quite a comprehensive plan/leaflet....The cost of renting one of the audio guides on offer will increase that cost further still, but it does perhaps demonstrate the care taken to maximise the 'visitor experience' if not highlight how the church is viewed as a commercial enterprise....

The main interior of the church gave me the impression of being quite empty, largely due to the incredibly high ceiling (similar in design to the delightful Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, my 4th place attraction) and the floorspace being quite uncluttered. Most of what you want to look at is on the walls or in 'false' enclaves, created by inset pillars which only divide the length of the nave so you walk along the sides underneath the lower ceiling they support (like the interior of Duomo).

Whilst my guide book enthused about the carvings/decorations etc and their significance, few of them really grabbed me; I've added a photo I took of Donatello's gilded stone relief 'Annunciation', which is apparently very significant but I found rather bland - sorry !

Conversely, what I did enjoy very much was the rather lonely looking, but interestingly designed, quaint marble pulpit perched half way up one of the centrally-located inner columns (on the opposite side to the entrance door) and 'Cappella Baroncelli', which has attractive frescoes (by someone called Taddeo Gaddi) but most significantly a wonderful altar, a delightful stained glass window behind and an equally beautiful ceiling 'cupola'.

I've added photos of them too.

If I remember correctly, the interestingly looking 'Cappella Pazzi' was inaccessible - I say that as pictures I've seen do not jog my memory and I feel sure if I'd seen it in the flesh I'd have taken a photo of the attractive-looking ceiling !

The outside area and cloister is also quite pleasant but I didn't find too much in the museum yonder of interest....

This church can make for a pleasant stroll around the large nave, but for me it had only a few notable highlights; however, I'm sure others will find much more of interest. Yes, it is more worthwhile to see than some other more popular churches in Florence (eg Santa Maria Novella), but I feel the administrators might deter greater numbers from visiting courtesy of a rather steep entry cost....

Visited February 2012
Thank LPWilliams
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
219 reviews
90 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“free visit but very interesting”
Reviewed April 16, 2012

You need a guide to explain the history of the most famous grave : Gallileo, Michel Angelo, Rossini...and we benefit of a french speaking CAF tours guide

Visited April 2012
Thank Daniel P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Zealand
Level Contributor
75 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Lots of history”
Reviewed April 16, 2012

We had to visit this Basilica to see a number of 'Greats'. Pays to get a hand held guide machine as there is so much to see and take in.

Visited March 2012
Thank MitzyNewZealand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
269 reviews
165 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 133 helpful votes
“Best graveyard ever”
Reviewed April 15, 2012

Beautiful church - but the most fascinating aspect are all the Florentines buried in the church...

Michealangelo.... There are sculptures representing a painter, a (something) and a sculptor - we learned from our guide that of all three, it is the sculptor who looks the saddest, because for all of his talents, Michelangelo was perhaps the greatest sculptor ever...

Dante - who essentially invented the Italian language...

Galileo - who, incidentally, was born the year Michelangelo died - and Isaac Newton was born the year Galileo died.

Machiavelli - how to explain him to children!!

there is a place for Da Vinci - who, of course, is not there - but the Italians sure wish they had him -and the Mona Lisa back from the French!

Definitely worth a visit.

Visited April 2012
Thank SFOglobetrotter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 14, 2012

A beautiful Basilica and a pleasant surprise to learn that the Italian composer Rossini, is buried there.

Visited April 2012
Thank JackFitz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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