San Michele in Orto, Florence Orsanmichele
The present church, a very well-preserved 14th century building, developed from an oratory (Orsanmichele is the abbreviated form of San Michele in Orto) and a corn hall, for trading in grain, which held a miraculous picture that came in time to attract more worshippers than buyers, with the consequence that in the late 14th century the building's religious significance came to predominate.The delicate articulation of the external walls, the ornamentation, arches, niches, figures, mouldings, the marble infill in the window openings and the uncluttered tracery of the pillared arcades make the church's architecture of the highest order. The beauty of the architecture is complemented by important works of sculpture.
San Michele in Orto Map
Address: Via Calzaiuoli, I-50100 Florence, Italy
Opening hours: 9am-12pm, 4pm-6pm
Useful tips: Photography prohibited.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Transit: Bus: 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 23.
San Michele in Orto Highlights
The intricately crafted niches (or tabernacles) on the facade, commissioned by the city's guilds, hold the individual guilds' patron saints.On the Via dei Calzaiuoli side on the left is Lorenzo Ghiberti's "St John the Baptist" (1414), the first great Renaissance statue in bronze, in the next niche (by Donatello) can be seen Andrea del Verrocchio's major work "Incredulity of St Thomas" (ca. 1480), and "St Luke" by Giambologna (1600) is on the right.On the Via dei Lamberti side, the south side, is "St Mark", an early Donatello (1411), "St James" by Lamberti (ca. 1422), "Madonna delle Rose" (1399, probably by Piero di Giovanni Tedesco) and "St John the Evangelist" by Baccio da Montelupo (1515).The west facade holds Lorenzo Ghiberti's most important large statue, "St Matthew" (1419-1422), "St Stephen", also by Ghiberti (1428), and Nanni di Banco's "St Eligius" (1415).On the north side is Donatello's "St Peter" (1408-1413), then Nanni di Banco's "St Philip" (1415) and "Four Crowned Saints" (1408), a group of martyrs, and a copy of Donatello's "St George" (1418; original in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, see Palazzo del Bargello).
The interior of the two-naved church is impressive on account of its frescoes, paintings and stained-glass windows. At the back of the left-hand nave is the altar of St Anne with Francesco da Sangallo's marble sculpture "Madonna and Child with St Anne" (1526). The right-hand nave ends with Orcagna's famous Gothic marble tabernacle (1349-1359), its rich ornamentation setting off the miraculous picture of the Madonna (by Bernardo Daddi, 1347). Reliefs on the plinth show scenes from the life of the Virgin (front) and "Death and Assumption of the Virgin" with a self-portrait of Orcagna (back; 1359). The tabernacle is decorated with angels and prophets, sibyls, apostles and allegorical figures of the virtues. Pietro Migliore's marble grille with a bronze trellis (1366) is also an interesting feature.Orsanmichele is connected to the Palazzo dell'Arte Lana by a bridge, and opposite is the little church of San Carlo dei Lombardi.
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