The first place we visited, a couple days after I arrived in Florence, was the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. This is a lovely old Dominican church, located across the street from the train station (which shares it's name).
The word novella means "new", which this church definitely is not, but at the time it was built, it was given the name due to the fact it was built over a 9th century oratory by the name of Santa Maria delle Vigne. Hence, it was the NEW Santa Maria! Construction of this "new" church began around 1246 and finished sometime around 1360.
|The small cloister to the side of the church|
The upper part of the exterior facade was designed by Leon Battista Alberti, a genius who used mathematics in his artwork.
The church had two remodellings, the first was commissioned by Cosimo Medici I in 1567. This remodelling also expanded the piazza in front of the church in order to use it for the annual chariot/carriage race, Palio dei Cicchi. There are two marble obelisks - one on each side of the piazza - that were placed in 1608 to indicate the turning posts of the race.
|The top of one of the obelisks in the piazza|