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Florence’s art-filled churches and chapels

  • Florence, Tuscany, Italy

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 27 March, 2024

Many of Florence’s religious buildings were constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries, but few have remained untainted by later additions. During Renaissance times, wealthy families such as the ruling Medicis commissioned the finest artists to fresco family chapels, carve tombs for loved ones, update architectural structures and create bespoke works of art.

Step into any Florentine church today and you’ll find an extraordinary legacy of art treasures by masters such as Giotto, Masaccio, the Lippis and Michelangelo.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Basilica of Santa Croce

  • Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Basilica of Santa Croce

Experience

Built in 1294, Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan basilica in Italy and is famed for its frescoes by Giotto in the Bardi and Peruzzi chapels. It was the favoured burial place of many past illustrious citizens including  Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Ghiberti and Rossini. Book an entry ticket here, or a private guided tour here.

Adult price 7

Good for age: 18+

Basilica of San Lorenzo

  • Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Basilica of San Lorenzo

Experience

Brunelleschi’s 1420 church of San Lorenzo was commissioned by the Medici, but Michelangelo’s projected façade was left unfinished, hence the rough brick you see today. The classical grey and white interior houses several masterworks including two bronze pulpits by Donatello. Michelangelo’s adjacent Laurentian library is a must-see. Book a private guided tour here.

Adult price 6

Good for age: 18+

Basilica of San Miniato al Monte

  • Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Basilica of San Miniato al Monte

Experience

Perched on a hill with spectacular city views, this 1,000-year-old church houses a 13th-century mosaic in the apse, frescoes by Paolo Uccello and an intricate intarsia marble floor featuring zodiac symbols. Catch the Gregorian chant at 5.30pm (4.30pm in winter), then take in the sunset views.

Good for age: 18+

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Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

  • Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

Experience

Crowned by Alberti’s magnificent, swirling marble façade, this lofty Dominican church with its ranks of striped columns, houses several extraordinary works of art including Masaccio’s seminal Trinità fresco (1424-25), Giotto’s Crucifix (ca. 1300), and frescoes (1485-90) in the Sanctuary. Book a private guided tour here.

Adult price 6

Good for age: 18+

Basilica of Santo Spirito

  • Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Basilica of Santo Spirito

Experience

Brunelleschi’s last church – with its iconic blank façade-was mostly completed after the architect’s death in 1442. Its vast, serene grey and white interior features 35 columns in pietra serena, 38 chapels and an elaborate high alter. Look out for Filippino Lippi’s Madonna and Child with Saints.

Adult price 2

Good for age: 18+

Basilica of Santa Trinita

  • Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Basilica of Santa Trinita

Experience

The beautiful but little-visited 14th-century Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity) houses several artistic gems. The Sassetti chapel has scenes from the life of St. Francis (1495) by Ghirlandaio while the altarpiece shows his famous Adoration of the Shepherds (1485). Lorenzo Monaco decorated the Bartolini-Salimbene chapel in 1422.

Good for age: 18+

Brancacci Chapel

  • Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Brancacci Chapel

Experience

This side chapel of Santa Maria del Carmine church (separate entrance) is decorated with world-class frescoes by 15th-century artists Masaccio, Masolino and Filippino Lippi. Highlights of these seminal works which profoundly influenced the Florentine Renaissance include Masolino’s Temptation of Adam and Eve and Masaccio’s The Tribute Money. Book ahead to climb up and see them up close.

Adult price 7

Good for age: 18+

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Magi Chapel

  • Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Magi Chapel

Experience

Benozzo Gozzoli’s glorious fresco depicting the Procession of the Magi dates from 1459 and covers the tiny ‘Cappella dei Magi’ in Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. Painted in brilliant jewel colours, it shows a procession of richly-attired kings, knights and servants travelling through a fairytale rural landscape.

Adult price 6

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Most of the city’s churches, chapels and monasteries are located within the historic centre which is very compact and best accessed on foot although the small electric buses pass close to many of the main sights.

Always dress appropriately when visiting religious buildings (no sleeveless tops or very short shorts or skirts). Visits are not allowed during mass.

While it is quite possible to work your way around the churches in Florence independently armed with a good guidebook such as An Art Lover’s Guide to Florence by Judith Anne Testa, hiring a private guide or joining a specialised group tour will help focus on the important works and give extra insight.

When to do it

Nowadays, Florence is a year-round destination, but the most crowded months are May to October. To avoid the inevitable long queues for entrance to the Duomo during these months, book your visit in advance. It is also essential to book the Brancacci Chapel in advance.

January and February are the best months to visit to find the churches virtually empty.

Who to go with: organised tours

3

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Discover the Art and History of Santa Croce Basilica in Florence

  • Florence

Discover the Art and History of Santa Croce Basilica in Florence

Viator

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS • Visit the temple of the Italian Glories • See the burial place of several Florentine and Italian masters • Find frescoes by Giotto and a chapel designed by Brunelleschi • Admire the works by Donatello and the monument dedicated to Dante - Visit the Basilica di Santa Croce, the principal Franciscan church in Florence. Learn about Florentine history and discover the life of Michelangelo. See the burial place of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo Galilee, Rossini and more.

Price €48

Min age 0

Rating 4.84 / 5 [71 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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MEDICI CHAPELS Private Tour in Florence

  • Florence

MEDICI CHAPELS Private Tour in Florence

Viator

Enjoy an insightful private tour of the Medici Chapels – the last home of the famous dynasty that wrote the history of Florence. If you are an art lover it’s a must for you to visit the Medici Chapels, but without a tour guide, you will deny yourself a unique opportunity to learn the gossips and secrets hidden within their walls. Built as the mausoleum for the Grand Dukes of Florence it became a breathtaking museum decorated with most precious and incorruptible materials: marble and granite, jasper and alabaster, lapis and many other semiprecious stones. Discover the New Sacristy – another masterpiece of Michelangelo Buonarroti where he revealed himself not only as a talented sculptor but also as an expressive architect. Join me for this incredible tour and smoothly navigate in the Chapels. Be the first to see all the details, avoiding all the hassle of big group tours. IMPORTANT: Please note that the SECRET ROOM OF MICHELANGELO is NOT included in this tour.

Price €87

Min age 0

Rating 5 / 5 [52 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private Medici Chapels and San Lorenzo Square Guided Visit

  • Florence

Private Medici Chapels and San Lorenzo Square Guided Visit

Viator

Follow your private guide in the fascinating discovery of a unique museum and have a comprehensive visit of the wonderful San Lorenzo square, the lively heart of the Medici district.

Price €126

Min age 0

Rating 4.66 / 5 [9 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Website >

Destination guides

2

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Florence

  • Tuscany, Italy

Florence

Destination guide

A heady mix of incomparable Renaissance art, gorgeous palazzos, Tuscan cuisine and home-grown haute couture.

Tuscany

  • Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany

Destination guide

The astonishingly beautiful region of Tuscany has it all: art cities and ancient hill towns, high mountains and long sandy beaches, alongside luxurious hotels and some of Italy’s best food and wine.