Architecture Around the World

The Church of Santa Croce (Holy Cross)
Florence, Italy


There were no important changes in its plan during the long course of its construction

Principal architect:

Probably Arnolfo de Cambio (c. 1245-1302)


Niccolo Matas (1857-63)

Bell tower:

Gaetano Baccani in 1847


Tuscan Gothic


TEXT Beneath Illustrations

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Statue of Dante

Statue of Dante

Statue of Dante

Left side of church - loggia

Intellectual center of the Franciscan order, it was founded in 1294, on a site where Saint Francis himself had built a small house, and it was not completed until about 1380. Designed, as it is believed, by Arnolfo de Cambio (c 1245-1302), builder of the cathedral of Florence, there were no important changes in its plan during the long course of its construction.

The church scarcely looks Gothic. Most of the familiar Gothic features are missing: the building has neither flying buttresses nor stately clerestory windows, and its walls are pierced only by a few relatively small openings.

The church clings to the ground and has no as aspirations to flight. All emphasis is on the horizontal elements of the design, and the building rests firmly and massively on the ground Simple, geometric volumes are defined clearly and show no tendency to merge either into each other or into the sky.

Like the facade of San Miniato al Monte, the building's surfaces are ornamented in the old Tuscan fashion, with marble-incrusted geometric designs to match it to the eleventh-century Romanesque Baptistery of San Giovanni

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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