Construction of the Basilica began in 1294. It is the 3rd largest church in the world.
The ornate polychrome marble facade, like that of Florence’s more famous Duomo, was actually added in the 19th century.
Prior to the new facade, the front of the Basilica would have looked like the adjacent cloister and tower. The rest of the building remains the reddish limestone. The Duomo, on the other hand, was totally sheathed in marble.
The Italian architect Niccolo Matas from Ancona designed the Neo-Gothic facade between 1857-1863.
Because Matas was Jewish, he could not be buried in Santa Croce. The Basilica is the burial place of many prominent Italian artists, writers, and thinkers and is called the Temple of Italian Glories. After Matas’ death, his body was moved and reburied under the porch of the Basilica.
But Matas left his mark on Santa Croce. He worked a prominent Star of David into the design. While both Jewish and Christian symbol, it’s prominence is meaningful
He is buried beneath his star, just outside the center door.