The city’s first basilica, Santa Maria Novella is one of Florence’s most beautiful and important churches. With a striking Gothic-Renaissance facade, interior chapels housing artistic masterpieces, and Dominican cloisters, the basilica is one of the top sights in Tuscany’s capital city.The Basics
The basilica’s unique green-and-white geometric marble facade, designed by Leon Battista Alberti in the 15th century, immediately draws the eye. Yet you’ll find the most important art in the church’s central nave and famous chapels. Highlights include Masaccio’s Holy Trinity
, a crucifix by Giotto, Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Birth of the Virgin Mary
, and works by masters such as Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, and Michelangelo. Adjacent to the church, the Green Cloister was built for the resident Dominican friars in the 14th century and decorated with frescoes by Paolo Uccello.
With its wealth of architecture and art, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is as much a museum as it is a church—visit with a guide to fully appreciate it. Walking tours of the historic center often include the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella with other Florentine landmarks such as the Duomo and Uffizi Gallery.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Like most Italian churches, the basilica requires modest clothing covering shoulders and knees to enter.
- The basilica is accessible to wheelchairs.
- No flash photography or videos are allowed inside the church.
- Piazza Santa Maria Novella in front of the basilica is lined with restaurants and cafés, perfect for a quick bite before or after visiting the church.
The basilica is located on Piazza Santa Maria Novella in the historic center of Florence, just across the street from the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station.
When to Get There
Florence is one of the most visited cities in Italy, and its sights can be very crowded in summer. To enjoy the basilica and other attractions in relative peace, go in spring or fall.
Officina Profumo Farmaceutica
Check out one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica, which was founded by Dominican friars around 1221. Part of the Santa Maria Novella complex, the shop still produces perfumes and natural body products, which you can purchase in the ornate historic salesrooms.