Work Of Basilica Of Santa Maria Novella

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is a historic religious site located in Florence, Italy. This renowned basilica, often referred to as Santa Maria Novella, holds great significance in the city's rich cultural heritage. Its name, which means "New Saint Mary," pays homage to the fact that it was constructed on the site of an earlier 9th-century church.


Santa Maria Novella is a prime example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, blending the styles harmoniously. Its intricate façade captivates visitors with its beautiful marble designs and elaborate rose window. The basilica houses a vast collection of exquisite frescoes and art pieces, including works by renowned artists like Masaccio, Ghirlandaio, and Giotto.


Beyond its architectural and artistic splendor, Santa Maria Novella serves as an active Dominican monastery, emphasizing its continuing role as a place of worship and spiritual contemplation. Visitors can explore the basilica's interior, marvel at its stunning decorations, and experience a profound sense of history and devotion.


In summary, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella stands as a magnificent testament to the artistic, cultural, and religious heritage of Florence, offering a captivating blend of architectural grandeur and sacred tranquility.


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The Facade
The Facade

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella owes its magnificent facade to Giovanni Rucellai, whose name proudly adorns the upper pediment alongside the completion date of 1470. The project began around 1458, inspired by the Council of Florence and supervised by Pope Eugene IV and the young Leon Battista Alberti. Prior to Alberti's intervention, the Santa Maria Novella facade was plain, adorned only with six marble tombs, arches, and modestly decorated doors. Alberti's genius lay in seamlessly integrating a modern aesthetic onto the existing Gothic structure. He harmoniously incorporated mathematical and geometric principles, resulting in a profound synthesis of pre-existing elements and the new style. The rectangular base was defined by pillars and columns, embellished with the emblem of the Rucellai family. The central archway, flanked by Corinthian pillars, led to painted lunettes. The facade also features astronomical instruments by Ignazio Danti and decorative elements like marble inlays and rosettes. The crowning triangle bears the emblem of Santa Maria Novella, a radiant sun.

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The Chapel Of Filippo Strozzi
The Chapel Of Filippo Strozzi

Within the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, nestled between the Bardi and Maggiore chapels, lies the renowned Chapel of Filippo Strozzi. This chapel gained fame through the remarkable frescoes executed by Filippino Lippi between the late 1480s and 1502, marking the culmination of the artist's pictorial work. Filippo Strozzi the Elder commissioned the chapel after acquiring its patronage from the Boni family in 1486 and subsequently entered into a contract with the painter from Prato. Despite the slow progress caused by Lippi's prolonged stay in Rome, the chapel's cycle of frescoes portrayed the lives of Saints Philip the Apostle and John the Evangelist, with the latter associated with the chapel's previous patronage. The chapel's pictorial decoration revolved around Lippi's concept of the triumphal arch on the back wall, featuring allegorical statues representing Faith and Charity. Benedetto da Maiano's sculptural contributions included the porphyry tomb of Filippo Strozzi behind the altar, adorned with a Madonna and Child in bas-relief and surrounded by angels. Additionally, Benedetto sculpted a bust of Filippo Strozzi, once housed in the family palace but now displayed in the Louvre Museum.

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Masaccio's Trinity
Masaccio's Trinity

In the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, the fresco of the Trinity by Masaccio resides in the third arch of the left aisle. Painted in 1425-1426, it was later superimposed on a stone altar by Giorgio Vasari in 1570. During the church's nineteenth-century renovations, the fresco was discovered in good condition and relocated to the interior wall of the facade. A restoration in 1952 revealed a depiction of Death beneath the Trinity fresco. The inscription on the skeleton reads, "I WAS ALREADY WHAT YOU THINK AND WHO YOU ARE AND YOU WILL STILL BE," offering a reminder of life's transience within the triumphant representation of the Holy Trinity. The composition showcases Renaissance perspective, with the Eternal Father above, the Holy Spirit as a dove below, and Jesus crucified between the Madonna and Saint John the Evangelist. The patrons, husband and wife, flank the central figures. Masaccio's intentional shift of the fresco to the left aligns with the perspective from the reopened portal, creating a dynamic viewing experience. The presence of this masterpiece supports the hypothesis of Brunelleschi's involvement in constructing its remarkable perspective system.

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Giotto's Crucifix
Giotto's Crucifix

After being away for over twenty years, the Crucifix of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella was masterfully restored and returned to the church in 2000. It had occupied various positions within the church throughout its history. Originally located on the high altar or possibly facing the congregation, it was later moved to the internal facade above the central portal. In 1937, it rested on a stone base created during the nineteenth-century renovations. Now situated at the center of the church, elevated and commanding attention, the Crucifix embodies the Franciscan spirituality of Christ's suffering. Its black, white, and red colors symbolize death, purity, blood, and passion. Giotto's realistic depiction portrays Christ's human form, emphasizing the triumph over the Cathar heresy that rejected the divinity of Christ's humanity. This triumph paved the way for humanism, the foundation of civilization rooted in Christian principles, advocating freedom, brotherhood, equality, and universal human rights.

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Brunelleschi's Crucifix
Brunelleschi's Crucifix

According to Vasari, Brunelleschi sculpted the Crucifix of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in response to Donatello's wooden Crucifix in Santa Croce. Donatello's work was criticized by Brunelleschi for its exaggerated naturalism. Challenged by Donatello, Brunelleschi created a different sculpture, one that exuded composure, solemnity, and theological significance. Compared to Donatello's work, Brunelleschi's sculpture was more idealized and measured, reflecting mathematical and divine perfection. The figure of Christ leaned on the cross with a slight twist to create privileged viewpoints and induce a semicircular path for the observer. The sculpture displayed meticulous study of anatomy and proportions, resulting in sublime dignity and harmony. Every element was carefully crafted to reflect a continuous, rational, and theological reinterpretation inspired by the order of the world.

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Tornabuoni Chapel or Major Chapel
Tornabuoni Chapel or Major Chapel

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella holds a rich history of patronage and artistic contributions. The Ricci family initially commissioned Orcagna to fresco the chapel in the 14th century, but financial difficulties led to the deterioration of the frescoes. In the 15th century, Domenico Ghirlandaio took on the task of creating a new cycle of frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin and Saint John the Baptist. Ghirlandaio collaborated with talented assistants, including his brother David and a young Michelangelo. The frescoes showcase scenes of everyday life in Florence, featuring prominent figures of the time. The chapel also houses notable artworks, including a table with the Coronation of the Madonna and a precious marbled altar.

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History Of Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

History Of Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, located in Florence, Italy, has a rich and fascinating history dating back to its founding in the 13th century. It was established by the Dominican Order and served as their principal church. The basilica stands as a prime example of Italian Gothic architecture with its intricate façade and stunning interior.


Over the centuries, the basilica underwent several transformations and expansions. Notable artists and architects, including Masaccio, Ghirlandaio, and Brunelleschi, contributed to its grandeur. The interior boasts magnificent frescoes, intricate marble works, and stunning chapels, each showcasing the artistic prowess of the Renaissance period.


Santa Maria Novella also played a significant role in the cultural and religious life of Florence. It became a hub for intellectual discourse, attracting renowned scholars and theologians. The basilica's library, one of the oldest in Italy, housed a vast collection of manuscripts and precious texts.


Today, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella stands as a testament to the rich artistic and spiritual heritage of Florence. Its majestic architecture, exquisite artworks, and historical significance continue to captivate visitors, offering a glimpse into the city's glorious past.

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Architecture Of Basilica Of Santa Maria Novella

Architecture Of Basilica Of Santa Maria Novella

The architecture of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is a captivating blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Romanesque styles. The exterior of the basilica showcases intricate details and a harmonious balance between geometric forms and decorative elements. Its grand façade, adorned with beautiful marble and polychrome panels, is a testament to the skill of the architects and craftsmen involved.


Inside, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella reveals a spacious and awe-inspiring interior. The nave, supported by slender columns, leads the eye towards the stunning high altar. The architectural layout features a Latin cross plan, with side chapels housing remarkable artworks by renowned artists.


The basilica's architecture highlights its historical evolution, with elements from different periods seamlessly integrated. The intricate ribbed vaults, elegant arches, and ornate rose windows add to its visual splendor.


The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella Architecture reflects the artistic and cultural heritage of Florence. Its harmonious blend of architectural styles creates a captivating atmosphere, inviting visitors to admire the craftsmanship and appreciate the rich history of this magnificent religious site.

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Know Before You Go At Basilica Of Santa Maria Novella

Essential Information
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Essential Information
  • Location: The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is located in Florence, Italy. It is situated near the city's main train station, Santa Maria Novella, making it easily accessible to visitors.


  • Timings: The basilica is generally open to the public from Monday to Saturday, with varying opening and closing times. It is recommended to check the official website or contact the basilica directly for the most up-to-date information on visiting hours.


  • Best Time of Visit: The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella can be visited throughout the year. However, to avoid large crowds, it is advisable to plan your visit during weekdays and outside of peak tourist seasons. Early mornings and late afternoons are generally quieter times to explore the basilica.


Additionally, consider visiting during spring (April to June) or autumn (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and the city is less crowded. By planning your visit during off-peak hours and seasons, you can fully appreciate the architectural beauty, art, and serenity of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella.


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