Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence

43.77488888888911.253863888889Koordinaten: 43 ° 46 '30 " N, 11 ° 15' 14" E

The Basilica di San Lorenzo is one of the largest churches in Florence and is at the center of the market district. It was consecrated in 393 and is one of the many churches in the city, who claim to be the oldest. For three hundred years it was the city's cathedral before it lost this status to Santa Reparata, which is now built over the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. In addition, it was the parish church of the Medici, in which the first name Lorenzo so often occurs.

Architectural History

1419 offered Giovanni di Bicci de ' Medici 's father Cosimo, on to fund a new church instead of the Romanesque building. Filippo Brunelleschi was commissioned to design. He was already busy with the planning of the Kuppelbaues of the cathedral and his fame had increased it. First, the order referred only on building a sacristy as an extension of the old Romanesque church of San Lorenzo, today's " Old Sacristy ". He caused a sensation and was now also responsible for the planning of a new nave, which should be the first Renaissance church, and thus the first church building of modern art history. The order was carried out either in 1421 or only in 1425. Brunelleschi's death In 1446, only the sacristy and the transept was finished. The construction was continued by his student Antonio Manetti.

The Medici applied to large sums of money, yet no one has so far financed the construction of the facade (although a Michelangelo designed, which still exists as a wooden model today). The Campanile dates from the year 1740.


The Renaissance corresponding interior of the church is huge, cold and airy, equipped with chapels in series. The entire church is gewestet. In the south transept is the domed Sagrestia Vecchia (Old Sacristy ), the oldest part of the present church, which contains the graves of a number of family members of the Medici family - the only part of the church, which was finished to Brunelleschi's lifetime.

This " old sacristy " is the first domed central building of the Renaissance, the founding work for the central building of modern art history. It was completed 1428. Tondi The date of Donatello. The twelve -part " umbrella dome " represents a special form, it shows in their symbolism of numbers ( Christ and the Apostles ) is already the possibility that results in the Baroque to the dome as the big sky image.

We have here - as later in the nave - a geometrically well-structured space, which only needs a few design elements: arches, fluted pilasters and an entablature, which divides the wall into two zones. Some of the white wall is left entirely without articulation. The key architectural elements are traced by clear bands of gray stone ( "pietra serena " ), a very impressive, for the first time -applied decoration principle. A sacristy is in fact always a side room of the choir, which is used for dressing the priests and for the storage of cult equipment.

At San Lorenzo are the Cappelle Medici ( Medici Chapels ) behind the church: On the north transept is the Sagrestia Nuova ( New Sacristy ), begun in 1520 by Michelangelo, who also designed the Medici tombs contained therein. Behind the choir, the huge dome of the Cappella dei Principi rises ( Princes' Chapel ), whose construction began in 1604, a large, domed, octagonal central room where the grand dukes are buried.

The interior - Brunelleschi and the central perspective

The Medici had been scheduled for 1418 a Gothic building, as Brunelleschi took over the construction management. Brunelleschi changed in this plan to 1421 practically everything. He started with a whole new plan, there was a sudden decision for a new style.

This interior is an excellent example of the architecture of the early Renaissance in a traditional longitudinal building, so was therefore outside of the ideal of pure central building. This new concept was first realized by Brunelleschi one oriented to the linear perspective space which is determined by vanishing lines, which all seem to converge in one point - Brunelleschi was the mathematician Manetti and others of the inventor of the Central Scientific perspective.

Before Brunelleschi we had used in such cases, various artifices to suggest distances in paintings and drawings. Brunelleschi but developed a system that was present with the aid of space on precisely measurable way. He observed that seem to converge in the distance on a parallel viewer and Lines. Transferred into the picture produce such alignments ( Orthogonal ) that converge in the depth of the image in a vanishing point, a strong spatial effect.

Here, the departure from the medieval architecture and the opposition to the Franco-German influences of Gothic is particularly clear who had shown an ecstatic pursuit of height and dramatic effect. During the construction of the dome Brunelleschi had been prevented from realizing such principles, because there the basic dimensions and the idea had already prescribed. But in his architecture, he wanted something else.

In Italy, and especially now in the Renaissance it was no longer an end in itself, a building to make it bigger and higher. It is based on what is referred to in the literature as like the "human dimension" ( Misura dell'uomo ).

First, notice that Brunelleschi strict, clear geometric shapes preferred to emphasize the linear perspective. One such means was the connecting in series the same elements as a supporting principle. And above all the columns are carriers of this principle, they are very free and open between the main and side aisle, are so clearly highlighted as individual elements.

At the same time uses the wall structure of the aisles pilasters. The naves are separated by regular, large arches from each other, not as in the Gothic with the less harmonious pointed arches. The nave is terminated by a flat ceiling, not more of a ribbed vault. The whole room waives an increase upwards, but preferred a quiet, classic storage with a strong emphasis on horizontal elements - such as the so-called entablature, which is as a solid line through the arcades of the nave and on the pilasters of the aisles and in the flat slab has a parallel.

The vertical structural members are placed in exactly the calculated proportion and perspective in a row. This rational ordering principle leaves the remaining walls white and unformed. They are no longer, as in the Middle Ages, used for paintings that would interfere with the experience of perspective only. In addition, there is hardly space for this would be left. That which is applied to decoration, is not a standalone image program, but " painted architecture ", ie the basic concept of the space further underlines.

The naves are connected by wide arc positions. They were in the Italian Gothic buildings even before that ( for example, when Dom). But here's the impression of the unit space is even stronger than in the dome 30 years earlier. The light is bright and clear and does not dim - mystical as in the period of the Middle Ages before.

It is controversial in the literature, which models Brunelleschi has taken up here in the interior of S. Lorenzo. It is sometimes claimed that he had classic antique buildings in mind. On the other hand, it is pointed out that the influence of the Tuscan Romanesque buildings of the 11th and 12th century but was larger. Even the Gothic design as it had developed in Italy, is called as a conceivable source. Thus, be so used with all periods of art in the literature for the formation of the architecture of Brunelleschi that it only ever existed in Italy up to this point in 1420.

It is possible to provide evidence for each of the listed theories. There is no doubt that Brunelleschi was well acquainted with all architectural styles and elements from all areas that are somehow represented. What is decisive in Brunelleschi but not the citation of older art, but the design of a new architecture, as described under the heading of central perspective in their ultimate forms.

At the same time he had taken up with this building the model of the early Christian basilicas again. Through this interior he woke understanding the artist for the perspective. A style emerged, which guided the entire Florentine architecture of the century and in the taking " ruler and compass " back into place to enforce by the means of symmetry and with the measured regularity of the structures the concept of geometric beauty. The nave is a functioning system in itself, the space parts are clearly related to each other. The ratio of the nave to the ship's side chapel depth is as 4:2:1. Height of the vessels is twice the width. Therefore Mathematical relationships determine the dimensions of the building.

The staircase of the Laurentian Library

There is a work by Michelangelo in the church, namely the stairs to the library, to the so-called Laurentian Library. Here the valuable manuscript collection of the Medici should be kept. It turned out the problem, such as the staircase that leads from the entrance hall on the ground level of this library, should be designed. Clement VII, the then Pope from the house of Medici, had himself made ​​the suggestion to use all the space for these stairs. But Michelangelo left Florence for Rome in 1534, and therefore the project lay there for now.

Giorgio Vasari and Bartolomeo Ammannati have then implemented over 20 years later, from 1559 to 1568 with the help of Michelangelo 's original plan into reality. The result is a grand design in a small space.

Stairways should be given in the later centuries of increasing importance in the secular buildings, such as the approximately contemporaneous French castle at Chambord on the Loire, the Leonardo da designed Vinci, or - much later - in the Würzburg Residenz Balthasar Neumann of the 18th century. , so in the Baroque. Here we have one of the earliest cases that something " unimportant " like a stairway to the subject of consideration by leading artists was. One has then this broad, three-part design with a cascade, so compared to a waterfall, which is also clear that in the 16th century, such a staircase was absolutely unusual.

Works of art

  • Bronzino (fresco Martyrdom of St. Lawrence in the north wing )
  • Desiderio da Settignano ( Pala del Sacramento, the Tabernacle in the south wing )
  • Donatello ( two bronze pulpits, his last works, friezes, reliefs, Tondi and bronze doors in the Sagrestia Vecchia )
  • Antonio del Pollaiuolo ( wooden crucifix in the chapel of the south transept )
  • Filippo Lippi ( altarpiece of the Annunciation in the chapel of the north transept )
  • Rosso Fiorentino ( Marriage of the Virgin in one of the chapels of the south wing )
  • Andrea del Verrocchio ( grave of Giovanni and Piero II de 'Medici in the Sagrestia Vecchia )


In the Basilica, there are three organs. The main organ was built in 1864-1865 by the organ builders Fratelli Serassi (Bergamo ). The instrument has 35 registers on three manuals and pedal. The tracker action are mechanical.

Grave monuments

  • Bernardo Cennini ( goldsmith and printer) (south transept )
  • Donatello (north transept )
  • Francesco Landini ( south wing )
  • Niccolò Martelli (north transept )
  • Cosimo de ' Medici ( in front of the high altar )
  • Cosimo I ( Cappella dei Principi )
  • Cosimo II ( Cappella dei Principi )
  • Cosimo III. ( Cappella dei Principi )
  • Ferdinando I ( Cappella dei Principi )
  • Ferdinando II ( Cappella dei Principi )
  • Ferdinando III. ( Crypt )
  • Anna Maria Luisa de ' Medici ( crypt )
  • Francesco I ( Cappella dei Principi )
  • Giovanni di Bicci de ' Medici ( Sagrestia Vecchia )
  • Giovanni di Cosimo de ' Medici ( Sagrestia Vecchia )
  • Giovanni de ' Medici ( Pope Leo X ) ( Sagrestia Vecchia )
  • Giuliano I de ' Medici ( Sagrestia Nuova)
  • Giuliano II de ' Medici ( Sagrestia Nuova)
  • Lorenzo de ' Medici ( Sagrestia Nuova)
  • Lorenzo II de ' Medici ( Sagrestia Nuova)
  • Piero I de ' Medici ( Sagrestia Vecchia )
  • Piero II de ' Medici ( Sagrestia Vecchia )
  • Niels Stensen