Along the crowded Via Calzaiuoli, halfway between Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, stands a unique building: Orsanmichele church and museum, which has just reopened after an accurate restoration, allowing again visitors to admire this stunning not-to-miss place.
Its unusual shape (tall and squared) testifies to its peculiar history, which alternates between sacred and profane. In fact, where once stood the ancient oratory of San Michele in orto, in 1290 Arnolfo di Cambio built a loggia-grain market, soon after destroyed by a fire, and then rebuilt with two additional floors used as storehouses. The loggia’s arches were later walled up, transforming the market into a church, known as “The Temple of Guilds”. The medieval corporations of Arts and Trades, had been assigned the niches on the external facades with a statue of each patron saint (realized by Donatello, Verrocchio, Ghiberti…). In the upper floors, which has been renovated, in addition to the original statues (substituted by replicas in their niches), we can admire an amazing panorama.
The masterpiece of the church is Orcagna’s Tabernacle: a jewel of gothic art, designed in its monumental structure and finely sculpted in 1355, that encases the 13th-century Madonna con Bambino by Bernardo Daddi, realized in substitution to a more ancient one, that got destroyed.