Are you wondering what are the best churches in Florence, Italy? I visited Florence, Italy together with my husband and our friends during our Interrail trip around Europe for 2 weeks. Florence is a very popular city in Tuscany due to its arts, wine, and churches. Let me share with you some of my recommended churches in Florence, Italy that you can visit during your trip.

I also wrote other articles about Florence, you can read about the Best Things to Do in Florence, Italy as well as the Best Museums in Florence (Italy) That You Shouldn’t Miss. I encourage you to read them to help you plan for your Florence trip.

Florence’s churches and convents serve as places of worship and also house as much priceless artwork as numerous museums. In fact, some have been transformed into public museums and are no longer used as churches at all.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in the city is a number of active churches. You shouldn’t leave without gazing up into Brunelleschi’s enormous dome in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore or viewing Michelangelo’s Medici Tombs in San Lorenzo.

Florence Duomo in Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Best Churches in Florence, Italy: Stephen and I in front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Don’t overlook some of Florence’s lesser-known churches, though; there, you’ll find breathtaking examples of the leading Renaissance masters’ and other before- and after-era artists’ fresco, mosaic, stone carving, and architectural works, which together made Florence’s churches among Italy’s most stunning.

Look for the boxes along the side walls close to the front of the chapel in some churches where the main artworks are in the dark side chapels so you can light the space by dropping coins into a meter. With our list of the top churches in Florence, you can learn more about where to find some of the most well-known works of art in the city.

Read more: 7 Beautiful Places To Visit In Italy For The First Time

List of the Best Churches in Florence, Italy:

1. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

The majority of the most talented artists working in Italy during the Renaissance period contributed to the design and construction of Florence’s iconic monumental architectural complex, which consists of the church, baptistery, and campanile.

The Baptistery of St. John in Florence Italy
Best Churches in Florence, Italy: Cathedral of Santa Maria Fiore and the Baptistery of St. John

The most well-known church in Florence is home to a wealth of architectural masterpieces, the likes of which include the graceful bell tower designed by Giotto, the exquisite bronze doors designed by Ghiberti, and the magnificent dome designed by Brunelleschi.

Due to the abundance of valuables housed within the cathedral, a separate museum had to be established to house them all. There are interminable lines to get into this attraction because it is by far the most well-liked thing to see in Florence. On the Skip-the-Line Florence Duomo with Brunelleschi’s Dome Climb, you will be able to avoid these and be certain of seeing everything in the great cathedral, including some places that are not open to general tourists.

This is because you will be climbing Brunelleschi’s dome. The Baptistery, a gelato tasting, and tickets to the bell tower and museum are all included in the 2.5-hour tour that you take with a guide. You can tour the bell tower and museum at your own pace.

2. Basilica of Santa Croce

The late 14th and early 15th centuries saw the construction of the Franciscan church of Santa Croce, and the 1800s saw the addition of its facade of inlaid colored marble. In addition to its outstanding frescoes and other artistic highlights, it is notable as the final resting place of Florentine greats like Michelangelo and Galileo.

Santa Croce Cathedral in Florence, Italy
Best Churches in Florence, Italy: Basilica of Santa Croce
Diana Ringo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite being Gothic, Santa Croce’s interior is wider than most buildings of that era, more open, and has an exposed painted-timber ceiling.

To locate the important tombs, look in the side aisles: As you enter the church, to the left in the north aisle, are Galileo’s and a memorial tablet designating the final resting place of Lorenzo Ghiberti (famous for the baptistery door). On the right, you can see Michelangelo, Gioacchino Rossini, and Machiavelli, the final chancellor of the Florentine Republic, whose name is still used to describe ruthless political strategies.

Vasari created three sculptures of the muses of painting, architecture, and sculpture to mourn Michelangelo. A memorial to Dante is also located in the south aisle. It was built in 1829, 508 years after his passing in Ravenna, where he resided after being driven from Florence. Look for Donatello’s delicate relief of the Annunciation in this aisle (1435).

3. Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

The Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella, one of Florence’s most significant buildings, was started in 1246 and finished over a century later. It becomes the focal point of the expansive square in front of it thanks to the striking facade of inlaid colored marble that was added another century later.

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence Italy
Best Churches in Florence, Italy: Basilica of Santa Maria Novella

Its distinctive shape was created by architect Leon Battista Alberti, who combined Renaissance and Romanesque-Gothic architectural motifs. The interior also combines Renaissance openness with Gothic height, displaying elements of both styles. The oldest window in Florence is the rose window, and more Florentine artists can be found inside.

Brunelleschi created the marble pulpit at the second pillar in the left aisle in 1443. One of Masaccio’s finest works is the Trinity fresco on the third altar (notice the perfect perspective).

The Crucifixion scene over the door in the sacristy is an early Giotto work from around 1290. The celebrated wooden crucifix by Brunelleschi (1410-1425), the first representation of Christ without a loincloth and the artist’s equivalent of Donatello’s realistic, peasant-like Christ in Santa Croce, is located in the adjacent Cappella Gondi. The altar painting in the Cappella Gaddi is Bronzino’s Christ raising the Daughter of Jairus.

Between 1486 and 1490, Domenico Ghirlandaio and his helpers completely frescoed the apse. The last major cycle of frescoes from the 15th century, these scenes from John the Baptist and the Virgin’s life, have been exquisitely restored to their original soft, luminous colors. Be sure to pay attention to how he depicts the biblical characters in Renaissance-era settings and attire. Giambologna is the maker of the bronze cross.

Filippino Lippi painted the frescoes in the Cappella di Filippo Strozzi, which is located in the left arm of the transept, and Vasari painted the Rosary Madonna in the nearby Cappella dei Bardi. Lorenzo Ghiberti created the bronze memorial in the Cappella Rucellai.

The entrance to the cloisters and chapels of the former convent is to the left of the church façade. The Green Cloister is so named because of the green hues used in Paolo Uccello’s frescoes of scenes from the Old Testament; pay close attention to his representation of the flood.

The Spanish Chapel, home to some of the most important frescoes created in Italy in the 14th century by Andrea di Bonaiuto, is the convent’s main attraction. The walls of the chapel are covered with intricate representations of salvation and damnation.

4. Basilica di Santo Spirito

When Brunelleschi passed away in 1446, work had already begun on the vaulting of the new church in the Oltrarno, which had been commissioned by a number of wealthy Florentine families. The austere exterior conceals the fact that inside is one of the most authentic Renaissance churches because it was finished, though not entirely according to his original plans.

Basilica di Santo Spirito in Florence Italy
Best Churches in Florence, Italy: Basilica di Santo Spirito

Look up to see Perugino’s rose window, Descent of the Holy Ghost, in the façade. The side altars in the nave are adorned with paintings, statues, and reliefs.

Some of the most priceless items are found in the transept chapels. Look at the window and Ghirlandaio’s Ascent of Calvary in the first chapel on the left arm, and also note the sculptures that Andrea Sansovino created for the exquisitely designed Cappella Corbinelli in 1492. The altarpiece Madonna and Child with Saints and Donors by Filippino Lippi, created in 1490, is the most significant piece in the church. It is located on the right arm of the transept.

Caccini’s early Baroque baldachin altar, where the transepts converge in the crossing, is richly decorated with pietra dura, the intricate mosaic of semi-precious stones that Florentine artists are known for. The vestibule, which Cronaca (1492-1494) constructed, and the sacristy, an octagonal work of art by Giuliano da Sangallo created in 1495, are both accessible from the left aisle.

The entrance to the Cenacolo, the refectory that is all that is left of the former Augustinian monastery, can be found to the left of the church. It features a fresco of The Last Supper painted by Andrea Orcagna around 1360. It is one of Florence’s most exquisite pieces of 14th-century art, despite being severely damaged.

5. Basilica della Santissima Annuziata

The church, which Michelozzo completely rebuilt between 1444 and 1481, is regarded as his architectural masterpiece and houses some outstanding works of art, even though some of the artists may not be well-known to everyone.

Basilica della Santissima Annunziata in Florence Italy
Best Churches in Florence, Italy: Basilica della Santissima Annuziata
Max_Ryazanov, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The rotunda, which is divided into nine chapels, was started by Michelangelo in 1444 and finished by Leon Battista Alberti in a different style. For the miraculous painting of the Annunciation, a small marble temple by Michelozzo was built close to the entrance, on the left (the miracle involves the 13th-century monk Friar Bartolomeo, who fell asleep while painting it and awoke to find that angels had completed the face of Mary).

The miracle attracted travelers, who left the church with so many votive offerings that it had to be expanded to accommodate them. Even today, newlywed Florentines visit this location to leave the bridal bouquet.

The Cappella Feroni, with its fresco by Andrea del Castagno, Redeemer, and St. Julian, is also on the left (1455). His Trinity is located in the second chapel, and Perugino’s Ascension of Christ panel is located in the fourth chapel. Giambologna created the Cappella della Madonna del Soccorso, which houses his own tomb and features frescoes, statues, and reliefs, between 1594 and 1598.

The fresco Madonna del Sacco, a significant piece of artwork by Andrea del Sarto, can be found inside the Chiostro dei Morti through a door on the portico’s left side (1525). The chapterhouse, several chapels, and the sacristy are close by.

Chapels and the Chiostrino dei Voti (Votive Cloister), which is renowned for its frescoes, can be entered through the portico’s right-hand door. These include masterpieces by Cosimo Rosselli (Summoning and Robing of St. Filippo Benizzi), Alesso Baldovinetti’s Nativity, Andrea del Sarto (scenes from the life of St. Filippo Benizzi), and one of his best works, Birth of the Virgin (1514).

6. Chiesa di San Salvatore of Ognissanti

The building that is now known as the Church of Ognissanti was originally constructed in the 13th century, but it underwent extensive renovations in the 16th and 17th centuries and was repaired after being damaged by flooding in 1966. It is considered to be one of the first Baroque churches in Florence.

Chiesa di San Salvatore in Ognissanti in Florence, Italy
Best Churches in Florence, Italy: Chiesa di San Salvatore of Ognissanti

Look for the young Amerigo Vespucci at the second altar on the right in Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Madonna della Misericordia (1470). He is the explorer for whom two continents are named. Long before he began his illustrious career, Ghirlandaio included himself in a picture of parishioners from this church because it was the parish church that his family attended.

Both a painting on wood depicting the Crucifixion by Giotto in the manner of his style and a fresco depicting the Crucifixion by Taddeo Gaddi can be found in the sacristy. You can view frescoes from the 17th century that depict scenes from the life of St. Francis if you enter the cloister through the transept.

The Cenacolo del Ghirlandaio is located beyond, and it is a refectory that is known for the fresco of the Last Supper which was painted by Ghirlandaio and occupies the entire rear wall. There is also a painting by Ghirlandaio titled Saint Jerome in His Chamber (1480) and a famous painting of Saint Augustine Studying by Sandro Botticelli.

7. Cappella Brancacci

The unadorned and unfinished exterior of Santa Maria de Carmen offers no hint as to the priceless treasures that can be found inside. In point of fact, neither does the initial view of the baroque interior, which is characterized by its carvings and trompe l’oeil ceiling. These are the results of the rebuilding that took place after the interior was destroyed by fire in 1771.

To the great good fortune, the exquisite attached chapel known as the Cappella Brancacci, whose interior is decorated by frescoes dating back to the 15th century and depicting the life of Saint Peter along with other Biblical scenes, was not destroyed.

They were designed by Masolino da Panicale and his pupil Masaccio, and Masaccio’s death allowed Filippino Lippi to finish them after they had already been started. The recent removal of layers of candle soot has revealed vivid colors and made the distinctions between the works of the various artists more obvious.

The Florentine painters of the 15th century were influenced by Masaccio’s realistic style and use of perspective.

8. Basilica di San Marco

The architect Michelozzo completely rebuilt the monastery and partially rebuilt the San Marco church, which was built in 1299, in the middle of the 15th century. In 1588, Giambologna added the Salviati Chapel, the Chapel of St. Antonino, and the side altars.

Basilica di San Marco in Florence Italy
Best Churches in Florence, Italy: Basilica di San Marco

The convent is the main reason to go to San Marco, even though the church itself has some noteworthy artwork — the funerary chapel of St. Antony is regarded as Giambologna’s most important architectural achievement and the Byzantine mosaic Virgin in Prayer from a Rome oratory dates to 705 —

The Dominican monk Fra Angelico painted the monastery rooms between 1436 and 1445, leaving us with a “natural” museum that is responsible for the monastery’s fame. Along with a few other works, this brother’s are located throughout the monastery; however, you should specifically search for these frescoes.

The fresco by Fra Angelico, St. Dominic at the Foot of the Cross, is located directly across from the entrance to the Cloister of St. Antonino; Ecce Homo is located in the lunette diagonally across from the entrance.

Fra Bartolomeo’s Last Judgment can be found in the Great Refectory, and his large Madonna with St. Anne and other Saints panel from 1510 can be found in the Sala dei Lavabo. Fra Angelico’s fresco The Crucifixion covers an entire wall in the chapter house. There is a well-known Last Supper by Ghirlandaio in the Small Refectory.

But the more than 40 monks’ cells that Fra Angelico and his pupils painted with frescoes are what you will remember the most. He tenderly transformed the austere rigidity of the medieval saints into gentle, human saints who radiate piety and innocence. His style is unmistakable. Keep an eye out for the incredibly private Annunciation across from the stairs.

9. Basilica San Lorenzo

Even though the Medici family was known for going all out in everything they did, not even they could have imagined that their family church and mausoleum would, more than 500 years later, be regarded as one of the greatest artistic achievements in the history of the world. And its crowning achievement, Michelangelo’s New Sacristy, was never even completed to its full potential.

Brunelleschi is credited with creating the ideal of Renaissance architectural harmony within the church itself, and it was decorated by Donatello, Lippi, and other renowned artists of the time. San Lorenzo is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Florence due to the combined artistic merit of its many notable buildings, most notably Michelangelo’s Medici Tombs.

10. Church of Orsanmichele

This magnificent structure dates back to the 14th century and was originally an oratory and a grain trading hall. Within the oratory was a miraculous picture that drew more worshippers than buyers to the building. Therefore, toward the end of the 14th century, the structure’s religious significance prevailed, and it was transformed into a church that was also known as Orsanmichele.

It adorns its exterior with some of its most well-known works of art. Walk all the way around the building to get a good look at the intricate stonework that was used to create the window arches and niches that define its architecture.

St. John the Baptist, created by Lorenzo Ghiberti in 1414 and located on the side of the building facing the Via dei Calzaiuoli (on the left), was the first significant Renaissance statue cast in bronze. The incredulity of St. Thomas, a major work by Andrea del Verrocchio, is housed in the following niche, which was created by Donatello. On the right is St. Luke, which was created by Giambologna in 1600.

On the Via dei Lamberti (south) side is Donatello’s early statue of St. Mark, and on the west facade is Lorenzo Ghiberti’s most important giant statue, St. Matthew (1419-1422), as well as his St. Stephen. Both of these works were completed during the same period. Donatello’s St. Peter can be found on the northern side.

The frescoes, paintings, and stained-glass windows that can be found inside make it worthwhile to look around. Orcagna’s well-known Gothic marble tabernacle, which dates from 1349-1359 and features a miraculous picture of the Madonna painted by Bernardo Daddi in 1347, is located at the end of the right-hand nave.

11. San Miniato al Monte

can see how styles were already blending in the late 11th and early 12th centuries.

The thing that distinguishes San Miniato is the interior design. The nave is large and open, with a mosaic floor (look for the zodiac motifs) and a painted wooden ceiling: the choir and main altar rise high above the space.

Step forward into the Renaissance in Michelozzo’s Cappella del Crocifisso, whose glazed terracotta ceiling is decorated in the distinctive blue and white of Luca della Robbia. The church’s 12th-century marble pulpit, lavishly decorated choir screen, and the mosaic in the apse, which once more displays Byzantine influence, are among its highlights from the late Romanesque period.

The Taddeo Gaddi-frescoed crypt beneath the altar features columns salvaged from ancient Roman structures. Last but not least, the sacristy to the right of the high altar is lined entirely with Spinello Aretino’s masterpiece, Life of St. Benedict, from the fourteenth century. This is one of the most magnificent rooms in Florence because of the vivid colors and the intricate detail used to decorate the groining that frames the scenes.

I hope that these recommendations of the best churches in Florence, Italy could help you in planning your perfect trip to this beautiful Tuscan city.
Have you been to any of these churches in Florence?
Let me know in the comment box below which is your favorite.

Best churches in florence italy pin
11 Best Churches in Florence, Italy


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