Discover all the Churches in Florence

It’s no surprise that the Italian city of art has many beautiful churches housing some incredible artworks, but the churches in Florence offer much more.

san miniato al monte cemetery viewsAmazing sights, stunning art, rich history - what's not to like about visiting the churches in Florence?

A visit to a church can be as good as any art gallery in Florence, so keep reading for all the details you need.

Where to see some of the best churches in Florence

Churches in Florence aren’t the only places of worship, they are religious buildings, museums and art galleries all rolled into one.

From large, impressive churches to small chapels, Florence has a lot to discover, and the beauty and history inside these churches are unrivaled.

florence cathedral pink skiesAs stunning as the Florence cathedral and the famous dome are, there are lots more churches to see!

On this page, we'll be talking about:

Santa Maria del Fiore and the Duomo complex

One of the largest churches in the world and the most famous church in the city, the Duomo of Florence is named Santa Maria del Fiore.

This means 'our lady of the flower' which references the name of the city.

It is a beautiful Gothic church with intricate details in its marvellous exterior.

The church was built on the ruins of a previous church dedicated to Santa Reparata, who is one of the patron saints of Florence, the remains of which can still be viewed in the crypt.

santa reparataWhen visiting the Duomo, be sure to go down into the crypt to see the remains of the original church that stood here

Florence was one of the most powerful cities in medieval Italy and a new cathedral that would do justice to the wealth of the city was commissioned in 1294.

Construction lasted nearly two centuries with many architects involved, including Giotto and Filippo Brunelleschi.

Giotto designed the bell tower and Brunelleschi finished the complex with the crowning glory of the project, the magnificent dome for the cathedral.

The complex of the Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore consists of the cathedral and Brunelleschi’s dome, Giotto’s bell tower, the baptistery of San Giovanni, the crypt of Santa Reparata, and the Opera del Duomo Museum.

duomo from aboveThe tall red brick dome can be seen for miles, further on a clear day!

Standing right in front of the cathedral and being the oldest religious building in Florence, the baptistery is a fascinating piece of history.

The exact age of the baptistery isn’t known for sure, though it was first mentioned as a minor basilica in 897.

In the centuries past, all Florentines were baptised here but today, just a few young children are baptised here on the first Sunday of every month.

The outer doors are individually decorated, the result of various city competitions, with the Gates of Paradise being particularly stunning.

Although the original doors are now in the Museo del Duomo, there are plenty of original features inside the baptistery to amaze visitors, including mosaics, sculptures and artworks.

Santa Croce

Found on Piazza di Santa Croce, this church was built in the 13th century and is the burial place of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Galileo Galilei.

There are 16 family chapels inside the church, which were built by wealthy families who wanted to find favor with the church in the hope of having their sins forgiven.

michelangelo tomb in santa croceThe tomb of Michelangelo is just one of the famous people honored in Santa Croce

Most visitors come here to see the tombs of famous residents of Florence, of which there are more than any other church in the city.

There is also a museum onsite which attracts many visitors and can get very busy.

Santa Maria Novella

Santa Maria Novella is one of the most architecturally important Gothic churches in all of Tuscany.

It’s located at Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, and as you approach you’ll see the historic original façade that is part Gothic, with the top half being finished following the strict rules of the Renaissance.

Inside santa maria novella horizontalThe soaring Gothic arches of Santa Maria Novella make for an impressive interior

Inside are some incredible works of art, including Giotto’s Crucifix, Masaccio’s Trinity, and the Nativity by Botticelli.

Basilica di San Lorenzo

This church dates back to the 4th century and is possibly the oldest church in Florence.

The reason it looks a little rustic from the outside, is that the façade of San Lorenzo was never completed.

basilica san lorenzo interiorWhile not as decorative as other churches, San Lorenzo is one of Florence's most important churches

Located on Piazza San Lorenzo, the inside of the church is also a little bare compared to other churches in Florence, but its beauty lies in its simplicity.

It’s an important church for many reasons, but mainly because this is the burial place of the Medici family.

The Medici Chapels are entered through the back of the church where you’ll find the crypt, the Capella dei Principi, and the New Sacristy.

basilica san lorenzo chapel domeBe sure to visit the chapels as well as the main church

Basilica di Santo Spirito

Located at Piazza di Santo Spirito, outside the original city walls, this rather solemn church was designed by Brunelleschi in the 15th century, though the façade he envisioned was never completed.

Inside, the meticulous rhythm Brunelleschi used to structure the architectural elements and the flood of natural lights make the church feel serene and peaceful.

Facade of santo spirito view from outsideThe plain facade was not the original plan for the church, but the death of Brunelleschi left his vision incomplete

The crucifix Michelangelo sculpted when he was only seventeen years old before leaving for Rome hangs in the sacristy.

The famous Renaissance painter created the Madonna with Child and Saints for the de'Nerli family in their chapel on the right side of the nave.

Basilica di San Miniato al Monte

san miniato al monte wide view of internal naveThe interior design of San Miniato al Monte is a fascinating mix of styles

It took from the 11th to the 13th century to complete this church, and it was worth the wait, as the views alone from the church above Piazzale Michelangelo, sweeping over Florence below, are magnificent.

The green and white marble of the exterior is elegantly beautiful, and inside the church, there are three naves and a crypt, with frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi.

There are many important people buried in the cemetery beside this church, including the painter Pietro Annigoni and Carlo Lorenzini, the author of Pinocchio.

san miniato al monte cemeteryThe cemetery next door is also well worth a visit

Check out our top tips for making the most of your time in Florence:

Other interesting churches in Florence

Though most visitors seek out the most famous churches in Florence, there are many other interesting churches to take a look at in the city.

Some of these churches will be quieter than the famous ones and contain some tucked-away secrets of design and artworks.

Santa Maria del Carmine

Located on Piazza del Carmine, don't let the unfinished facade fool you.

Inside, you'll find some of the most important Renaissance frescoes: the famous cycle including the Expulsion from Paradise and the Tribute Money that Massacio created in 1472 for the Brancacci family.

Much of the church was destroyed in a fire in 1771, but the Brancacci chapel survived.

The chapel is accessed through the cloisters, not the main church.

Basilica di San Marco

After returning from exile, in the fifteenth century, Cosimo de'Medici had the run down convent-complex that stood here completely restored and reconstructed.

The church you'll see today dates back to the late 16th century, with an 18th-century neoclassical facade and holds spectacular artworks by Fra Angelico and Fra Bartolomeo.

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Orsanmichele is a church that has a very unusual history.

There was originally a small oratory here, built on the site of a Roman temple, in the gardens of a monastery.

orsanmichele interiorI love the unusual feel of the Orsanmichele church

In the 13th century a grain storage was built on the site, which was turned into a church when an image of the Virgin Mary that was kept here started performing miracles.

Even today you can still see the rings in the ceiling, used to haul heavy bags of grain, and the chutes in the wall which were used to move the grain between floors.

orsanmichele close-upThe ornate decor reflects the wealth of the merchants who owned the building originally

Santissima Annunziata

This Renaissance basilica was founded in the mid-13th century by the same monks who also commissioned Fra Bartolomeo's Annunciation.

The great 'Cloister of the Dead', accessed through a door behind a curtain in the sacristy, is a peaceful place where many artists are buried.

No matter what season you visit Florence, here are 4 things never to leave at home:

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Santa Trinita

santa trinita facadeYou could easily walk past this church but the plain exterior gives no hint of the beautiful art inside

Built-in the 12th century by Vallombrosian monks, who were already running a convent on this site, this church was originally built in the Romanesque style.

This space is quite solemn and simple, in keeping with the beliefs of the monks and how they lived.

The more elaborate mannerist facade dates back to the late 16th century.

santa-trinita-artworkGhirlandaio's work in the Sassetti chapel in Santa Trinita is breathtaking!

The church features works of art by Ciambue, Neri di Bicci and Pietro Bernini.

San Salvatore in Ognissanti

San Salvatore in Ognissanti was founded in the 13th century by the lay order of the Umiliati Friars, a religious order that processed and traded in wool.

The church is located at Borgo Ognissanti, with convenient access to the river Arno for wool trading.

ognissanti st augustine paintingThis fresco of Saint Augustine by Botticelli is worth the visit all by itself

The Botticelli fresco of St Augustine in his Study is complemented by the fresco by Ghirlandaio of St Jerome in his Study.

Ghirlandaio also painted the magnificent Last Supper, which draws many art lovers and is a truly wonderful thing to see in such a peaceful church.

For a fee, you can also visit the tomb of Botticelli in this church.

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