In a city known for its Renaissance architecture, the Gothic-style Orsanmichele Church and Museum is a standout. With ornate doors and windows, some of the oldest stained glass in Florence, and statues by Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Della Robbia, Nanni di Banco, and Donatello, this little-known landmark is worth a visit.
Built in the 14th century as a grain market, Orsanmichele was later converted into a church. Each of Florence’s powerful trade guilds was commissioned to provide a statue of its patron saint to fill the niches in the exterior walls, which now hold replicas; most of the originals are housed in the museum upstairs, where you can also see the building’s Gothic wooden vaulting and decorative brickwork. The fresco-bedecked interior holds two treasures: an ornate marble tabernacle by Andrea Orcagna and a Madonna and Child by Bernardo Daddi, believed to have healing powers.
Orsanmichele Church and Museum is located in the heart of Florence's historic center and included in many walking or Segway city tours along with skip-the-line access to the Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Gallery, and Duomo.
Things to Know Before You Go
A walking tour of Florence covers a lot of ground, so comfortable shoes are recommended.
The church and museum are not accessible to wheelchairs.
The windows of the upper-floor museum are perfect for snapping pictures of Florence from above.
Photography without flash is allowed in the church and museum.
Modest attire that covers shoulders and knees should be worn to enter the church.
How to Get There
Orsanmichele is located in the largely pedestrian center of Florence, between Via dell’Arte della Lana and Via dei Calzaiuoli, about halfway between Piazza della Signoria and the Duomo. The main Santa Maria Novella train station is a short walk away.
When to Get There
Though the church is open daily, the museum is only open on Mondays and Saturdays, so time your visit well if you would like to see the original statues in the museum.
The Statues of Orsanmichele
The church’s original statues are now in the Orsanmichele Museum to protect them from erosion and damage, with the exception of two works by Donatello: Saint George and its niche are a short walk away in the National Museum of Bargello, and Saint Louis of Toulouse is in the nearby Basilica di Santa Croce Museum.