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"The Chapels of Santa Maria Novella" Basilica Di Santa Maria Novella Tip by Jefie

  Santa Maria Novella Basilica in Florence
by Jefie

Located near the city's main train station, Santa Maria Novella is the oldest basilica in Florence. Its construction began in 1279 and ended in 1360, several decades before the Duomo and Santa Croce were completed. Even though the latter two churches are more popular with visitors, Santa Maria Novella is also worth visiting, especially for the amazing art treasures hidden in its chapels. Several of the city's most influential artists were commissioned by wealthy citizens to decorate the basilica and, in some cases, work continued until the 16th century. I thought the Tornabuoni Chapel, which contains Ghirlandaio's depictions of the lives of St. Mary and St. John the Baptist, was particularly impressive. Another work of art worth seeing at Santa Maria Novella is Masaccio's "Holy Trinity", famous for its early use of perspective and "trompe l’oeil" techniques. It's also interesting to know that the same kind of "trompe l’oeil" technique was used for the construction of the church; indeed, as you get closer to the back of the church, the nave's pillars are set slightly further apart, which gives the impression that the 100 m long nave is even longer.

Admission to Santa Maria Novella costs 5 Euros. Entrance is through a side door that actually leads to the basilica's old cemetery. You should also make sure once you're done visiting the church to take a few minutes to walk around its lively piazza. Piazza di Santa Maria Novella was built at the same time as the basilica, and from the very beginning it was - and still is - used for different celebrations and festivities. For example, Amerigo Vespucci's return from America was celebrated there, and in the 16th century, when Cosimo I de Medici decided to reintroduce the concept of Roman chariot races in Florence, the races took place at this piazza around the large obelisks (sculpted by Giambologna) that can still be seen today.

Address: Piazza di Santa Maria Novella
Directions: Near the Santa Maria Novella train station.
Phone: 055 28 21 87

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 29, 2010
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