Church of the Miracles

Another find in the northern Cannaregio section of Venice (where many of the city's residents who have chosen to wade through the yearlong glut of tourists instead of packing for less congested cities still remain) is the Church of the Miracles, or Santa Maria dei Miracoli. Just north of the city's Ponte di Rialto, this 15th century cathedral has overcome its distended residential location to become one of the most visited churches in Venice Italy, something the nearby (and equally alluring) Church of the Madonna has never really managed to accomplish.

Perhaps it is the sacred story behind the creation of the Church of the Miracles that keeps the devout coming to its doorstep. Perhaps it's the relative peace that the surrounds the Santa Maria Dei Miracoli that affords it a certain majesty. Or maybe it's the amazing architecture, which was created just as Europe was moving towards the Renaissance. For which ever reason you choose, a recent renovation of the church grounds has left it high atop the list of the most beautiful churches in Venice Italy.

The history of the Church of the Miracles began in the early 1470s when a series of miracles were attributed to the Virgin Mary - most notable being the revival of someone who had spent over 30 minutes submerged beneath the waters of the Grand Canal. Soon enough, Catholics from all over the city and surrounding areas converged on Venice, leaving gifts and donations that were eventually combined to help fund the construction of Santa Maria Dei Miracoli.

Designed by a local architect named Pietro Lombardo who would go on to be a leading figure in the Renaissance of Venice, the entire Church of the Miracles seems carved from marble. Both inside and out, everything is covered by a slick sheen of marble, making the church appear much more cavernous than its true dimensions. Pink and gray and white, the innards of the church look like the combination of flesh and rock, an early indication as to where the coming Renaissance would lead the art world. The exterior belies Lombardo's background as heavily based in the construction of tombs, and this church has been likened to an over sized tomb by a large number of historians and viewers alike.

One of the first churches in Venice Italy to be influenced by the Renaissance, its place in the city's history is secured, as it holds a large number of early Renaissance treasures, not the least of which is the "miraculous" image of the Virgin Mary that started it all.

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