Church – Crypt of Santa Reparata, Florence, Italy


The basilica’s foundation is said to be the result of a vow, in thanks for the Christian victory over Radagaisus, King of the Goths, in around 405 AD. 

Early Christian

The church was rebuilt in Carolingian times after being severely damaged in the wars between the Goths and Byzantium. Mosaic flooring was built only 30 centimeters above Roman paving below.

Early Middle Ages

In the early 9th century, the Early Christian building was renovated. While the original plan was retained, columns were transformed into rectangular pillars and a new floor was laid over the older mosaic-tile floor. On the south side, near the presbytery, a chapel apse was built.


In the Romanesque period (11th to 13th century) the building was raised and seven pillars were placed on each side to divide the church into three naves. An apsidial chapel was built mirroring the early one from the early Middle Ages to establish a transept plan. A terracotta floor was laid 65 centimeters above the previous floor.

The Romanesque chancel area was covered in a lively fresco decoration. Large swatches from the 12th to the mid-14th century survive in the minor apses. One well-preserved section depicting the dead Christ lying between the Virgin and St. John, is located in the minor southern apse. This fresco provided proof of the extent to which the ancient building was constantly being embellished until just a few years prior to its final destruction.

The Church hosted parliamentary meetings for the Florentine Republic in 1379 before the construction of Palazza Vecchio. In 1397 a decision was made to raze the church completely to make way for a new cathedral.


An excavation campaign occurred between 1965-1974. The tomb of Filippo Burnelleschi was discovered at that time. Other artifacts revealed were a coin minted in 337-340 by the sons of Constantine the Great, a Roman mask, late Roman finds, an early Christian cup, a glass chalice of Longobard period, a 12th century gold and silver buckle, and antique ceramics and majolicas. The graves of Niccolo Squarcialupi (1313) and Giovanni di Alamanno de’Medici (1352) were also discovered.

Following completion of the excavation the crypt was opened to the public in 1974.

Additional Reading

Crypt of Santa Reparata, Il Grande Museo Del Duomo, accessed 12/18/2018.

Santa Reparata Crypt, Florence, Visit Tuscany, accessed 12/18/2018.

Santa Reparata, Florence Art Guide, accessed 12/18/2018.