Westminster Abbey in London and basilica of Santa Croce in Florence have one thing in common; these two churches are burial sites for many historical people, and they have cenotaphs. But the basilica was constructed for another reason, and its story is connected to St. Francis of Assisi. This place is a Franciscan church, and it has Gothic style.
In 1228 there was a small oratory built by the Franciscans. That place was enlarged, but this was not enough to hold the increasing faithful people. The construction of the church began in 1294 (or 1295) and ended in 1385. It was consecrated in 1443 according to the Florentine calendar. The façade of the church was constructed between 1857 and 1863, and the bell tower was built in the 19th century.
At the beginning, there were the graves of the native families, but with the tombs of Leonardo Bruni and Carlo Masuppini Santa Croce became the Pantheon of illustrious Florentines, and later the Pantheon of illustrious Italians. There are the tombs of Galileo Galilei, Ugo Foscolo, Niccolò Machiavelli, Fortunata Sulgher and Michelangelo Buonarroti. Ugo Foscolo called Santa Croce “Tempio delle itale glorie (temple of the Italian glories)”.
The basilica is known for funerary monuments and for the Crucifix made by Cimabue, which was damaged by 1966 flood of the Arno River. In the church you can see some chapels, like the Peruzzi chapel, the Bardi chapel, the Castellani chapel and the Baroncelli chapel. The Pazzi chapel is in the ancient cloister, and it was built by Filippo Brunelleschi. These are some artworks in the church: St. Francis, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist frescoes made by Giotto, the Annunciation sculpted by Donatello, and frescoes made by Agnolo Gaddi.