(b. ca. 1245, Colle di Valdelse, d. ca. 1310, Firenze)

View of the nave and choir

begun 1294
Santa Croce, Florence

The architect of Santa Croce was Arnolfo di Cambio, who was also important as a sculptor. as a pupil and coworker of Nicola Pisano, and as the first architect of the new Cathedral of Florence. The construction of Santa Croce, founded in 1294, continued well into the Trecento. The plan combines a long timber-roofed nave of seven bays with a lower, vaulted polygonal apse that is separated from the nave by a triumphal arch. From the very start the wall surfaces were intended for painting. The early Trecento painted decoration of the ceiling beams is still largely intact.

The plan of Santa Croce is modified Burgundian-Cistercian, with ten chapels flanking the choir and a five-sided apse. A major factor in the design is the open-trussed wooden roof that runs, unbroken, down the nave to the entrance wall of the choir. The unelaborated lancet windows project an image of austerity, albeit on a monumental scale.

View the ground plan of Santa Croce, Florence.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.