Chiesa San Marco - Church of Saint Mark
(Italian pronunciation: kee-ay-zah  sahn  mahr-koh)

The convent of San Marco was founded in the 13th century and enlarged in 1437 when Dominican monks from nearby Fiesole moved here at the invitation of Cosimo il Vecchio.  He paid a considerable sum to have the convent rebuilt by his favorite architect, Michelozzo, whose simple cloisters and cells are the setting for a remarkable series of devotional frescoes (1438-1445) by Fra Angelico.  This therefore became the first Florentine convent structure to be built in elegant essential Renaissance form.

The lovely Cloister has simple elements in stone with brick cornices.  On the ground floor the spaace is enclosed by airy arcades.  On the first floor there are fine lunettes frescoed by Poccetti, Rosselli, Coccapani, Vanni, Cerrini, Dandini and other illustrious artists.  Savonarola's cell has been preserved, holding a number of artifacts from his life here.

the Room of the Hospice includes works by Fra Angelico

The Church of San Marco was restored in 1437 by Michelozzo.  It was later renovated by Giambologna (1580) and then by Silvani (1678).  The simple facade was redone between 1777 and 1780 by Gioacchino Proni.  The linear interior has an outstanding carved and gilded ceiling.  Of interest is the Sacristy, which contains the sarcophagus with the bronze statue of St. Antoninus (1608).

The Coronation of the Virgin by Fra Angelico, fresco; 184 x 167 cm

The true center of attraction of this religious complex is without doubt the Convent.  It is well known that the exceptional artist, Fra Angelico, lived and worked within these ancient walls. Most of the frescoes in the Cloister are his.

Crucifixion by Fra Angelico, fresco; 550 x 950 cm

He also painted the St. Dominic in the Chapter Hall and a splendid Crucifixion inside, a Pieta over the door of the Refectory, Jesus as a Pilgrim over the Hospice door, and inside, the Madonna dell'Arte dei Linaioli, the Last Judgement, the Stories of Jesus, and the Deposition.