The Church
of Orsanmichele
The tabernacle
by Andrea Orcagna
in the church of
Situated in the central Via de' Calzaiuoli between Piazza Signoria and the Duomo the church of Orsanmichele is perhaps the place towards which Florentines feel most affectionate largely because it is linked to the Arti and Corporazioni that made Florence famous.

The name of the church derives from "San Michele in Orto", a place of worship of the Benedictine monks from the year 895 until its destruction in 1240. The area sacred to the Benedictines became a piazza where, orchestrated by the ruling Guelfs, commercial and civic affairs thrived.

Above where the grain market was to be found in the piazza a loggia was built where in June 1289 a shrine dedicated to Saint Barnaba was erected to celebrate the victory over the Ghibellines of Arezzo.

On the pillar of the loggia a panel was placed of the Miraculous Virgin painted by Ugolino of Siena and in 1291, in honour of the Madonna, the 10th of August was dedicated to the bakers of Florence connected to the grain and the loggia which was their meeting place.

In 1336 it was decided to raise another building around the Madonna and the grain deposit which would serve as a place of prayer. The construction works were entrusted to the "Arte della Seta" who boasted architects such as Francesco and Simone Talenti, Neri di Fioravante and Benci di Cione who created a lovely roman-gothic work of art.

The revered Virgin of Ugolino was probably destroyed by a fire in 1304 and in its place a marble tabernacle by Andrea Orcagna was erected in 1359 on which was placed the
Coronation of the Madonna with eight angels by Bernardo Daddi.

In front of the pillars of the church of Orsanmichele, between the arches one finds the tabernacles surmounted by the patrons of the Arti Maggiori and their coat of arms by great artists such as Donatello, Ghiberti, Verocchio, Giambologna and Nanni di Banco. Within on the other hand there are frescoes of the patron saints of the Arti Minori including work by Giovanni del Ponte and Smeraldo and Ambrogio di Baldese.

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