Monday, August 20, 2007

The Basilica of San Lorenzo

The church of San Lorenzo was consecrated in 393, and reconsecrated in 1059 after being considerably enlarged. Nothing of the original buildings is visible today because they were covered up by the new work ordered in the late 14th century.

The church as it stands now was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, great Florentine architect, most well known for designing the Duomo in Florence. Work began on Brunelleschi’s plans in 1421, and was completed in 1428. San Lorenzo was the church of the Medici family who ruled Florence for hundreds of years.

The outside of the church remains as it was built during the renaissance, and is rough and not much to look at. It is a surprise when you enter the building, because the inside is quite ornate, with marble floors and columns and a beautiful gold leaf carved panel ceiling.

There are many important works of art contained in this church. Some of the most important are the Martelli Sarcophagus by Donatello, and also 2 bronze pulpits by Donatello. There is a painting of the Annunciation by Filippo Lippi, one of the great renaissance painters, and another painting by Pietro Annigone, called Saint Joseph and the Christ Child which was painted in 1964. The difference in this painting and its modern elements are immediately recognizable.
Other buildings in the area and attached to the church are also of interest and add another dimension to the outside of San Lorenzo and is one of my favorite "rooftop viewings". The Biblioteca (library of the Medici use to house the manuscripts collected by the Medici, and the Campinile, and the Cappelle Medicee. In the Biblioteca, there is a staircase made of sandstone that was one of Michelangelo’s most innovative designs. It was built by Ammannatti in 1559. Michelangelo also designed the desks and ceiling of the Biblioteca. In the Cappella Dei Principi, Michelangelo’s creations symbolizing Night, Day, Dawn and Dusk are among his greatest works and decorate the Medici Tombs.

For those who say, "to hell with Renassaince art, and the cathedrals", there is a fabulous market-the best place to buy leather and other goods in Florence. Also, the food market, Mercato Centrale, is not to be missed!

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