Santa Croce Basilica is aside from the most popular pedestrian tours of Florence, but you should visit it to see the necropolis of the great people of Florence and all Italy.
‘Santa croce’ means «saint cross», but, usually, the name of the basilica isn’t translated into any other language of the world. The construction of the basilica was started in 1294. It is supposed that Santa Croce Basilica was designed by Alfonso di Cambio, the same architect who was also engaged in the construction of the Palazzo Vecchio about the same time.
The basilica is considered to be the world`s largest Franciscan church. It was built on the site of a small Franciscan chapel, which was allegedly laid down by Francis of Assisi himself, but it is unlikely to be so as while the construction of the first Franciscan chapel is dated to the middle of the 13 century, Francis of Assisi died in 1226 and was buried in Assisi.
The same as Santa Maria della Fiore Cathedral, the front of Santa Croce Basilica was finished by marble of white and green colour. However, the rest of the basilica was brick and unfinished, but this doesn’t detract from its magnificence.
Santa Croce Basilica was built in the shape of a bishop cross. From the time of its construction it was converted into the pantheon for the great people of Florence, representatives of science, art and religion. Later, there were buried not only the citizens of Florence but also the great Italians from the other regions of the country.
There were buried Michelangelo Buonarroti, Galileo Galilei, Niccolò Machiavelli and many other famous people who lived in Florence. Apart from the real burials at the Santa Croce Basilica there are also the so-called cenotaphs (empty tombs) of Dante Alighieri (buried in Ravenna), Raphael (buried in Rome), Marconi (buried in Rome), physicist Enrico Fermi (buried in Chicago) and many others.
It would be better for you to combine your visit to Santa Croce Basilica with an excursion to the Michelangelo Square, which is in the same part of Florence. Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio are only 15 minutes from there.