Basilica di San Lorenzo

sights / Religious

Basilica di San Lorenzo information

Florence , Italy
Street Piazza San Lorenzo
admission €4.50, with Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana €7
Opening hours
10am-5.30pm Mon-Sat, plus 1.30-5pm Sun Mar-Oct
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Lonely Planet review

In 1425 Cosimo the Elder, who lived nearby, commissioned Brunelleschi to rebuild the basilica on this site, which dated to the 4th century. The new building would become the Medici parish church and mausoleum – many members of the family are buried here.

Considered one of the most harmonious examples of Renaissance architecture, the basilica has never been finished – Michelangelo was commissioned to design the facade in 1518 but his design in white Carrara marble was never executed, hence the building's rough unfinished appearance.

In the austere interior, columns of pietra serena (soft grey stone) crowned with Corinthian capitals separate the nave from the two aisles. Donatello, who was still sculpting the two bronze pulpits (1460-67) adorned with panels of the Crucifixion when he died, is buried in the chapel featuring Fra' Filippo Lippi's Annunciation (c 1450). Left of the altar is the Sagrestia Vecchia (Old Sacristy), designed by Brunelleschi and decorated in the main by Donatello.