Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore, Florence, Italy

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Last year, 2016, on our trip to Venice, one of my aims in going, was to photograph as many churches as possible.  Well that didn’t happen, mainly because, most churches did not allow photography of any kind.  I have posted a couple that I found in Venice and Florence, but I missed two, I actually thought I had posted both of them, but I must have got them ready, and that was as far as I got.  So this post is about the wonderful church of Santa Maria Maggiore, in Florence who welcomed cameras with the flash turned off…..which I was more than happy to do, as I never use a flash inside a building if I can help it.

I was so happy when I saw the camera sign with a red slash through the flash, it was only the second one we had found, that was happy for us to take photos, and you didn’t have to pay to take them.  These churches are very different to the churches at home in the UK, and show how ours would have looked like before the Reformation and the Puritans got hold of them.  Santa Maria Maggiore is a Romanesque and Gothic-style, Roman Catholic church and is a among the oldest extant churches in Florence, or even the oldest.  You could be forgiven for just passing by the unfinished exterior, I think, like the similar churches in Venice, there should have been marble fitted on the exterior walls.

I found this…..The rough stone exterior had a marble façade designed for it by Alfonso Parigi which was never built. It was plastered over until a restoration in 1912-13, at which time some of the baroque features were also removed.

The first formal record of Santa Maria Maggiore is found in the year 931, but sources on when the actual construction of the church occurred are conflicting.   The church settled down with the Cistercian order in the 13th century, at which point it was remodeled in the Gothic style, with much of the original column remaining.  In 1514 the church was deteriorating due to finances and the church was given to the cathedral and then the Carmelites moved in with more changes taking place.

A tall and very frescoed church – fragments mostly – but the nave and apse are oddly less decorated than the aisles.  Dividing the nave from the aisles are rows of very chunky square columns. 


Each aisle has three altars.

The interior was renewed by Gherardo Silvani in the early 17th century, possibly to earlier design by Bernardo Buontalenti.  At his time the church acquired the ceiling frescos of The Life of St Zenobius by Poccetti and paintings by Cigoli, Pier Dandini, Passignano. Volterano, Vincenzo Meucci and Matteo Rosselli. Further altars, altarpieces, frescoes and stucco work were added in the 18th century.


5 Replies to “Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore, Florence, Italy”

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