Harmonious Renaissance architecture and the Medici’s tombs are highlights of a visit to San Lorenzo.

The bulky form of San Lorenzo church stands in a busy neighbourhood, near the market.

florence top sights

Church of San Lorenzo

This is the place to come to soak up some Medici family history. This is the church where the family would come to pray, keep their books and bury their dead, and today it contains their decorated tombs in chapels designed by Brunelleschi and Michelangelo.

Church of San Lorenzo

Church of San Lorenzo

It might not be the most spectacular church in the city but the peaceful, bright interior is a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the square outside. The original project was the work of Brunelleschi, appointed by the Medici to completely restructure one of Florence’s oldest churches. Originally Michelangelo was supposed to design the facade, but his design never saw the light of day, hence the building’s rough unfinished appearance.

Discover all the most beautiful churches to visit in Florence!

A bit of history of San Lorenzo Church

This edifice was consecrated a cathedral in 393, a status that it kept for around 300 years, when the remains of the first bishop of Florence San Zenobi got moved to Santa Reparata, that became the new Florence’s Cathedral. After this San Lorenzo followed in the wake of the Medici’s fame.

The Medici used to live in via Cavour, in what is now called the Medici-Riccardi Palace, a few steps from San Lorenzo Church. This became their “official” church where they would attend mass on Sunday morning. Giovanni, wanting to offer the neighbourhood a more splendid place to worship, decided to restructure San Lorenzo where a chapel was already under construction for him. Cosimo de’ Medici, his son, was the first one to be buried here (his tomb is in front of the main altar).

Discover all the secrets of the Medici dynasty!


Medici Chapel, exterior – Church of San Lorenzo

What to see in San Lorenzo Church

The splendid Medici Chapels are a showcase of the Medici’s prodigality and the most prestigious artists of the time, including Michelangelo. These chapels are the most spectacular parts of the church, though you’ll need a separate ticket to visit them.

The interior of the church itself, with its proportioned geometries, is pure Renaissance. The Old Sacristy (1420-28) designed by Brunelleschi is remarkable for the purity and perfection of shapes, and is decorated by Donatello’s sculptures.

Art lover? Check out the top Renaissance masterpieces in Florence, and the great frescoes that you can visit.

Pulpit by Donatello - Church of San Lorenzo

Pulpit by Donatello – Church of San Lorenzo

The bronze pulpits, built around 1460, are Donatello’s last work and depict the Resurrection and scenes from the life of Christ. A fresco by Bronzino depicting the “Martyrdom of St. Lawrence” (1569) is a Mannerist study of the human body.

The splendid Laurenziana Library, designed by Michelangelo, can be visited only when there’s a special exhibition but it’s very worthwhile.

december in florence

The Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence


Your friendly online guide to Florence and Tuscany. Get our insider travel tips delivered to your mailbox every month.

Share your love of Tuscany!

Explore more of Tuscany

  • Florence in May offer up some colourful possibilities to the curious visitor. There are beautiful gardens and villas to explore, flower festivals and a flag-throwing competition to be seen, and a whole event dedicated to...
  • It’s one of those places everyone dreams of going to. The question is what to do in Tuscany when you’re there. Don’t worry, this is a place that’s overflowing with sights, and unforgettable experiences. In...
  • Storybook villages in Tuscany are not in short supply. Small towns in enchanting locations, full of turreted towers, romantic archways, secret passageways and plenty of magical atmosphere. Go there and you feel you’re walking around...
  • In this 5 day itinerary travelling around Tuscany, we whisk you from the awe-inspiring Piazza dei Miracoli, to some of the world’s Medieval treasures and, of course, through some of the best scenery that Tuscany...
  • Love is always in the air in Florence. Maybe because there’s no shortage of romantic things to do here. From watching the golden sunsets on the river Arno, and strolling in the Bardini gardens to...