The lower part of the facade of Basilica di San Miniato al Monte is decorated by fine arcading; the upper part is simpler and has a fine 12th-century mosaic of Christ between the Madonna and St. Miniato.
The church, with its unfinished 15th-century campanile that was damaged during the siege of Florence in 1530, the Bishop's Palace, the fortifications, the monumental cemetery all stand at the top of a hill called Monte alle Croci, which rises up over the Piazzale Michelangelo below and over the entire city.
The interior of this magnificent example of Florentine Romanesque architecture (it originally belonged to the Benedictine monks and then passed to the Olivetan friars in 1373) is tripartite with a trussed timber roof.
Outstanding is the pavement in the center with marble intarsias of signs of the zodiac and symbolic animals. The walls retain fragments of 13th and 14th-century frescoes.
Of note is the crypt, a vast space closed off by an elaborate wrought-iron gate (1338). The altar (1lth-cent.) preserves the bones of St. Miniato. Fragments of frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi (1341) can be seen in the vaults of the crypt.
The raised presbytery is of great beauty with its pulpit (1207) and an intimate choir with fine inlaid wooden choir stalls. The large mosaic of the Blessing Christ flanked by the Madonna and Saints (1297) is in the conch of the apse.
Entrance to the Sacristy, completely frescoed by Spinello Aretino (1387) with the sixteen Stories of the legend of St. Benedict, is to the right of the presbytery. On the left, stairs lead to the Chapel of St. James, or "of the Cardinal of Portugal", designed by Antonio Manetti and decorated with five splendid roundels representing the Holy Spirit and the Cardinal Virtues, by Luca della Robbia (1461-66). To the right is the funeral monument of the Cardinal, a particularly lovely work by Antonio Rossellino (1461).
The Chapel of the Crucifix, designed by Michelozzo, and with delicate glazed vaulting by Luca della Robbia, stands at the center of the church.
To the right of the church is the Bishop's Palace (1295- 1320), ancient summer residence of the bishops of Florence which then became a convent, a hospital and a Jesuit house.
Via Monte alle Croci - Firenze
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