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Orsanmichele, Florence

1 Via dell'Arte della Lana
Tel: 39 055 284944's insider take:

Orsanmichele demonstrates just how closely religion and trade were intertwined in medieval Florence. First a chapel on a Benedictine monastery, it was turned into a granary, which at the beginning of the 14th century became a kind of secular temple to the city's powerful trade guilds. This explains the building's odd foursquare appearance, and also the statues of the guilds' patron saints on the exterior—each one commissioned from a leading sculptor. Today, those on the outside are copies: The restored originals, including Donatello's St. Mark and Ghiberti's remarkable bronze John the Baptist, are housed inside. Note that the museum is only open on a Sunday due to ongoing restoration, but the once impenetrable church, with its splendid Gothic Madonna and Saints by Bernardo Daddi, now has regular opening times.

Church open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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