Santa Maria Novella

Santa Maria Novella (47)

The church of Santa Maria Novella is one of the most important in Florence. It was built by the Dominicans between 1279 and 1357, though the façade was not completed until 1456 under the supervision of architect Leon Battista Alberti. The façade is one of the most representative elements of the church, made with white and green marble and featuring the emblem of the Rucellai family, placed there to remind visitors that it was they who financed the completion of the church.

Visitors will note that Santa Maria Novella church is most inviting and features a very spacious interior constructed in the Gothic style. On the right you will find the Cappella di Filippo Strozzi, decorated with frescoes by Filippino Lippi depicting episodes from the lives of St. Philip and St. John the Evangelist. 

If you go behind the main altar you will find the Tornabuoni Chapel, which features a beautiful series of frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio and his disciples, one of whom was a young man named Michelangelo. Despite the religious themes depicted in the paintings, it serves rather more as a portrayal of the customs and everyday life in 15th century Florence and includes numerous portraits of famous characters. For example, the fresco entitled "Life of the Virgin" features several members of the Tornabuoni family. This small masterpiece also stands out for its vivid colours, a fact that led some at the time to describe it as vulgar.

If you climb a ladder at the end of the hall on the left you will come to the Capilla Strozzi di Mantova, which features frescoes by Nardo di Cione and Andrea Orcagna in which the influence of Dante and his "Divine Comedy" are evident. The chapel walls feature representations of "The Inferno", "Paradise" and "The Last Judgement" among portraits of people such as Dante himself.

Though surely one of the most famous frescoes found in this church is "The Trinity", by Masaccio, located on the north wall of the nave. This is a revolutionary and pioneering work in terms of the techniques of perspective and portraiture.

And don't forget that if you leave the church and head for the façade on the left, you'll see a fence surrounding what is known as The Green Cloister, which gets its nickname from the colour of the pigment used in the frescoes. In the northern part of the cloister visitors will find the Chapel of the Spaniards, so named because it became the place of worship of Eleanor of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I, and her entourage. Visitors here should pay attention to the poignant paintings that depict themes such as salvation and damnation. In addition, as a curiosity, you can see that in one of the frescoes the Duomo appears, crowned by a large dome. Don't you notice anything strange about that? Well, maybe you will when you realise that the dome would not be built until 100 years later. 

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website