The Santa Reparata Crypt (or Church) is part of the extraordinary monuments that comprise Florence’s Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. This building, which was unearthed during excavations carried out from 1965 to 1973, is found beneath the striking Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and represents the ancient basilica of Santa Reparata, pre-existing the current one, completed in the early 15th century.
It constitutes the surest testimony of the very first Christianity in Florence. The origin is probably from the 6th century, when construction began, to honor a vow made in anticipation of a battle. Its features suggest that it was among the largest early Christian complexes in Tuscia, with a plan with three naves, separated by columns, and elements reminiscent of Ravenna’s Byzantine churches.
A site of great importance for the history of Florence; it was also used by the Parliament of the Republic for its meetings, before the construction of Palazzo Vecchio. The church was rebuilt several times, following damage, and enlarged, until it was definitively abandoned in 1379 to make way for the new cathedral.
Today a vast area is open to visitors, with access from inside the Cathedral: the architectural remains of the various periods are visible, as well as numerous tombstones, mosaics and the floor that shows the names of the 14 donors who financed the construction.
Bonus tip: the tomb of Filippo Brunelleschi, creator of the Dome, is also here.