The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is one of the most important churches in Florence and stands on the homonymous square . If Santa Croce was and is a very ancient center of Franciscan culture and Santo Spirito housed the Augustinian order, Santa Maria Novella was for Florence the reference point for another important mendicant order , the Dominicans .

In 1219 , twelve Dominicans arrived in Florence from Bologna , led by Fra 'Giovanni from Salerno . In 1221 , they obtained the small church of Santa Maria delle Vigne, so called for the agricultural lands that surrounded it (at the time outside the walls ). This church, owned by the canons of the Duomo, had been consecrated in 1049 or, according to other sources, in 1094 , although this second hypothesis is more probable, since a document mentioning this date is kept in the Capitular Archives of the Florentine cathedral. In any case, some remains of the ancient church have been found under the current sacristy, in particular the bases of some Romanesque pillars.

In 1242 the Florentine Dominican community decided to begin work on a new and larger building, obtaining from the Pope the grant of indulgences for those who had contributed financially to the work already starting from 1246. On October 18, 1279 , during the feast of St. Luke , the ceremony of the Laying of the First Stone was celebrated in the Gondi Chapel with the blessing of Cardinal Latino Malabranca Orsini , even though the works had already begun some time ago. The new church had a south-facing façade. The construction was completed in the mid- fourteenth century . The project, according to very controversial documentary sources, is due to two Dominican friars, Fra 'Sisto da Firenze and between' Ristoro da Campi , but participated in the building also between 'Jacopo Passavanti , while the bell tower and most of the convent o immediate intervention by Fra Jacopo Talenti . The church, although already completed towards the middle of the fourteenth century with the construction of the adjacent convent, was however officially consecrated only in 1420 by Pope Martin V who resided in the city.

Commissioned by the Rucellai family, Leon Battista Alberti designed the large central portal , the trabeation and the upper completion of the façade, in white and dark green ( serpentine ) marble , completed in 1470 . After the Council of Trent , between 1565 and 1571 the church was remodeled by Giorgio Vasari , with the removal of the enclosure of the choir and the reconstruction of the side altars , which led to the shortening of the Gothic windows. Between 1575 and 1577 the Gaddi chapel was built by Giovanni Antonio Dosio . A further reorganization took place between 1858 and 1860 by the architect Enrico Romoli .

In October 1919 Pope Benedict XV elevated it to the rank of minor basilica . [1]

An important restoration was carried out in 1999 for the preparation for the 2000 Jubilee , while a subsequent restoration of the façade was carried out from April 2006 to March 2008.

From March 2001 for the visit a payment of an entrance ticket is required.