San Lorenzo Church - History and Facts | History Hit

San Lorenzo Church

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

San Lorenzo Church in Florence is a fifteenth century church commissioned by the Medici family.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020

About San Lorenzo Church

San Lorenzo Church in Florence, Italy was originally consecrated in 393 AD.  In 1419, the Medici family commissioned Filippo Brunelleschi to rebuild it and it became the parish church of the family.

San Lorenzo Church history

San Lorenzo, early Renaissance-style church designed by Brunelleschi and constructed in Florence from 1421 to the 1460s, except for the facade, which was left uncompleted.

The Basilica of San Lorenzo is one of the oldest churches in Florence, said to have been consecrated by St. Ambrose on Easter day, 393 CE, even though the building we see today dates to the mid-1400s upon a design by Brunelleschi. The fascinating façade-less church is no stranger to glory, and while it may not be home to the variety of illustrious burials one might find in Santa Croce, it takes the cake for being the resting place of one of the most powerful families in pre-Unification Italy, the Medici.

Brunelleschi was given the commission for the overall design. The huge dome surmounting the structure mimics that of the Duomo, the famed cathedral dome that Brunelleschi constructed, and was his most visible accomplishment. The dome at San Lorenzo caps the Cappella dei Principi (Prince’s Chapel), which is the Medici mausoleum behind the high altar. The frescoes and mosaic flooring are opulent. The other Medici chapel, the New Sacristy, was designed by Michelangelo, who also provided the plans for the gorgeous Laurentian Library, built to house the family’s extensive collection of manuscripts and books. He also designed the desks and ceiling, as well as the staircase leading to the library. His sculptures bedeck the tombs of in the chapel.

San Lorenzo Church today

Today, San Lorenzo Church is a vast ornate structure lined with chapels. The outside of the church however belies its riches, being seemingly bare. It was planned for a façade to be built and Michelangelo even submitted plans, but they were never implemented. Having said this, the dome of San Lorenzo Church is huge, impressive and not dissimilar to the Duomo of Florence.

Inside, San Lorenzo Church is brimming with elaborate sculptures from the likes of Donatello and architectural features by Michelangelo, such as the Biblioteca Staircase. Nevertheless, San Lorenzo Church manages to remain quite light and uncluttered.

Perhaps the most famous aspect of San Lorenzo Church is the Cappelle Medicee – the Medici Chapels. These contain the Cappella del Principi, the mausoleum of the Medici family.

Getting to San Lorenzo Church

The church is easily accessible by public transport. Buses 11, 20, 301A and 6B pass nearby.