After crossing Ponte Vecchio from the North to the South side of the Arno River, San Miniato al Monte is about a 20-25 minute walk East along the river and up a hill. Don’t let its being a little out of the way deter you from visiting, though, otherwise you’ll miss out big time.
The San Miniato al Monte Church in Florence is 1000 years old. That right there was enough reason to see it, add to that its beauty, the monks’ chanting in the crypt, and it’s a highlight of Florence. Inside and out the art and architecture are reminiscent of Greek Orthodox and Islamic styles. This church is built in the Romanesque style, which was prominent in Europe during the Middle Ages and is characterized by semi-circular arches, geometric and zig-zag patterns and shapes. Also, it is common for the ceilings to be made of wood. All of these characteristics can be seen at San Miniato al Monte!
The marble facade of the church dates back to the 11th Century, and the golden mosaic is from the 13th Century.
The cross just underneath the peak of the roof has four equal sides, which is the Greek cross even though this is a Catholic Church.
A closer look at the mosaic on the church’s exterior. Notice also the Zodiac symbols above the row of arches at the top of the image. These are pagan symbols so are unexpected in a church, but scholars say that they can be given meaning in Christianity because there are twelve signs, thus each one can symbolize one of the twelve apostles. Another great example of cultural diffusion! The two photos above show the view of Florence from out front of the church.