The basilica of Santa Croce was built for the Franciscan order by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1294, and it s the burial place of the greatest and most powerful personalities from Florence, including Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei, who, having been condemned by the inquisition, was not given a Christian burial until 1737. Lorenzo Ghiberti, Gioacchino Rossini, Ugo Foscolo, Ottavio Rinuccini, Gino Capponi and many others are found here. Santa Croce is the Pantheon of Florence which contains an immense artistic heritage. The frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi in the main chapel tell the story of the Holy Cross, and the beautiful frescoes by Giotto in the Bardi and Peruzzi chapels illustrate the scenes from the life of St Francis and St John the Apostle; Donatello's Annunciation enriches the right nave of the basilica.
Inside the church, there is a commemorative monument dedicated to Dante, but the sarcophagus is empty. In 1519, thanks to Michelangelo's plea to Pope Leo X, Florence was allowed to return the bones of the exiled poet to his homeland, but when the sarcophagus was opened, the bones had disappeared. The Franciscan friars of Ravenna had made a hole in the wall from the cloister behind it to "save" the poet's remains, as he was considered one of them. The pleas for them to be returned were of no avail. The sarcophagus itself was transferred to the cloister of St Francis and jealously guarded. In 1810, the friars hid Dante's bones once again, to prevent them from becoming spoils of war. They were so well hidden that nothing more was known about their location until the mid-nineteenth century.
One of the characters buried in Santa Croce is the architect Luigi Canina, awarded the Royal Gold Medal for his merits in the profession of architect. An interesting fact for children is that Canina restored the Ducal Castle of Northumberland in England, which is known as Alnwick Castle and was used, both internally and externally, for the scenes of Hogwarts Castle in the Harry Potter films.