Church Buildings

Christmas Wreath

This beautiful Christmas wreath, is attached to very ancient wooden door, which stands in the corner of St Peter’s Church in Walpole St Peter, Norfolk.  If you look closely, you will see the delicate carving in the wood, which to me looks like the shape of some of the stain glass windows around the church.

Finally, The Duomo, Florence, Italy

Florence 2016 – We had finally arrived at The Duomo, Florence’s Cathedral and I wasn’t quite prepared for the size of the building, its massive.  You come across it quite suddenly, turning a corner and its there, it fills the whole space that you are looking at.  Its amazing, just a bit overwhelming for a second or two, still you eyes adjust to the sheer size and the decorative mix of pink, white and green marble.  As it was late in the day and the queues were still long, we didn’t see the stunning interior, but maybe one day.  For me, I was just happy to stand and take photographs of  this splendid Gothic building, which was began in 1296 and structurally finished in 1436.  The cathedral complex, located in Piazza del Duomo, includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. These three buildings are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The Church of Santa Felicita, Florence, Italy

Florence 2016, sometimes it was very hard to work out if you were looking at church or some other building.  It was only when I got home and looked up the photos of the what I thought were churches, I was then able to give them a name.  I nearly walked by Santa Felicita, it was only because someone else was taking photos that I stopped.  It was locked, apparently it is open on Saturdays, but of course it wasn’t a Saturday, but maybe in the future we will come back on a Saturday.  

I think it is worth a visit after I read the following… the 4th Century a church was built on this place by the Christian community of Florence, which inhabitated on this side of the river, opposite to the Roman city; this early-christian building was subsequently modified and enlarged (in 11th Century, and then in 14th Century, when a tower located by the church was transformed in bell-tower), so that today only few fragments of the originary structure are still recognizable.

The Church of San Frediano in Cestello, Florence, Italy

The next church we saw on our trip to Florence 2016, was the Church of San Frediano in Cestello.  You can’t really miss it and by walking over the bridge, I got some good exterior photos.  We had got lost trying to find our way to the centre of the city, but in doing so, we found a church that allowed me to take photos with out a flash, The Church of Ognissanti, which I have posted about.  

It was another church the you could not take photos, so we had a quick peep inside, but you had to pay, so we just stood at the door.   As it was now lunch time and still pouring in rain, so we decided to find some where to eat.

 A little history…….The church stands on the place of the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, founded in 1450 and since 1628 owned by the Cistercense monks, who ordered in that year architect Gherardo Silvani to build the church.  The original design saw the façade of the church on the southern side, towards Borgo San Frediano and the Oltrarno, but the Cistercense monks preferred the façade to be built on the northern side towards the Arno and the city, and commissioned Antonio Cerruti to build the church following these directions.  The new construction begun in 1680 and ended in 1689, when Antonio Ferri completed the dome.  The façade was never carryed out and remained uncompleted.  In 1783 the convent was closed and transformed in the Archiepiscopal Seminary, which is still active today.

We did find somewhere to eat and husband was happy to sit and rest, it was still raining, but by the time we had finished our meal, it had stopped raining.  Although it did start again before the end of the day, but still plenty to see before then.

Santa Maria Novella Church, Florence, Italy

Santa Maria Novella Church is the first church we saw when we arrived by train to Florence in 2016.  It is situated across from the main railway station.  Chronologically, it is the first great basilica in Florence, and is the city’s principal Dominican church.  The church, adjoining cloister and chapter house contain many art treasures that were financed by the most important Florentine families.  But we didn’t  see any treasures, as the rain was pouring down and there were queues,and having just arrived we just want to get to the heart of Florence, before we were washed away.  

The convent was built between 1279 and 1357 by Dominican friars near a 7th century church located in the fields just outside Florence’s medieval walls. The lower part of the marble facade, which is Romanesque in style, is believed to have been executed by a Dominican architect, Fra Iacopo Talenti da Nipozzano, while the upper part was completed only 100 years later in 1470 by Leon Battista Alberti. Thus, the facade is not only the oldest of all the churches in Florence but it is also the only church with its original, planned facade still in place today!


The Churches of San Carlo dei Lombardi & Orsanmichele, Florence, Italy

This was the last church that I managed to take a photo of the interior, while on our visit to Florence last year 2016.  I had found, that in Venice and Florence, most of the churches did not allow photography, I did find a couple, and a couple I did cheat and took a couple of quick shots.  This is what happened in this wonderful little church, I cheated, a great big sign with a camera and a cross through it.  I was’nt going to take a photo but the transept arches were so beautifully decorated, that when I got to the door, the lady watching left her station and turned her back as she walked to a door, so I took one quick photo, hoping for the best.  I would have loved to have taken close ups, but the photo came out better than I thought.  I know they are religious sites, but the amount of tourist that visit the churches, they are hardly the nice quite praying places anymore, so why not make a bit of money from all those people who want take photos.  Anyway rant over, and following, a little history of the church.

Originally a chapel to St Anne, then the church of San Michele, and now called San Carlo, this church was built at the expense of the Company of the Laudesi to provide the consecrated altar not yet present in their grain market/tabernacle of Orsanmichele opposite. It was built 1349 to 1352 by Neri di Fioraventi and Benci di Cionne.  Tall and square and plain with worn fresco decoration and scenes in the transept arches.  Niccolo di Pietro Gerini’s Entombment and Resurrection of Christ of c. 1385/90 recently returned from restoration and looking fine ( which is on the back wall of the alter).

The only photos of the Orsanmichele, opposite the San Carlo, that I could take were a few exterior photos, there was no way that I could take any interior photos of this wonderful church.  I have found a photo of interior that I can post.  The church was built as a grain market in 1336 and finished in 1347.  In 1380 it was converted into a church and finished 1404.  It is big, and more like two churches together, full of lovely items, but definitely no photos and too many watching eyes to be able to take even one.




Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore, Florence, Italy


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.