The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is the principal Franciscan church of Florence, Italy, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza Santa Croce, to the east of the Duomo.
Legend says that Santa Croce was founded by St Francis himself. The current church was probably begun in 1294, possibly by Arnolfo di Cambio, and paid for by some of the city's wealthiest families. In 1439, the Council of Florence, designed to heal the schism between Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, was held at Santa Croce.
Its most notable features are its sixteen chapels, many of them decorated with frescoes by Giotto and his pupils, and its funerary monuments. In 1560, the choir screen was removed and the interior rebuilt by Giorgio Vasari, who damaged the church's decoration in the process. The neo-Gothic facade only dates from 1857-1863. The campanile was built in 1842.
In the Primo Chiostro, the main cloister, is the Cappella dei Pazzi, built as the chapter house by Filippo Brunelleschi between 1442 and 1446 and finally completed in the 1470s. The Museo dell'Opera di Santa Croce is housed mainly in the refectory, also off the cloister. Brunelleschi also built the inner cloister, completed in 1453.
Artists whose work is present in the church include Antonio Canova, Cimabue, Andrea della Robbia, Luca della Robbia, Donatello, Giotto and Giorgio Vasari. Funerary monuments in the church include those to Leon Battista Alberti, Vittorio Alfieri, Dante (anche se in realtà è sepolto a Ravenna), Ugo Foscolo, Galileo, Giovanni Gentile, Niccolò Machiavelli, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Gioacchino Rossini.