Venice Churches

Venice Churches
Venice Churches

Venice churches are one of the biggest draws to this enchanting Italian city. Over the centuries, Venice has been home to over 100 churches, many of which remain standing today. Rich in world-renowned art, architecture, and relics, the sacred buildings of Venice are destinations not to be missed.

Church of the Miracles

Santa Maria dei Miracoli, or Church of the Miracles, is located near the Church of the Madonna in Venice’s Cannaregio region. While Church of the Madonna receives very few visitors annually, Church of the Miracles is one of the city’s most popular sacred destinations. This holy site was constructed in the 15th century, after reports of multiple miracles within the city of Venice. The most prominent is an image of the Virgin Mary that is claimed to have saved a person who had spent more than 30 minutes submerged in the Grand Canal. Venetian architect Pietro Lombardo, known previously for the construction of tombs, designed a stunning cavernous interior covered in Italian marble. Church of the Miracles reflects Lombardo’s early work prior to becoming a leading figure in the Italian Renaissance in Venice.

Saint Mark's Basilica

Saint Mark's Basilica
Saint Mark's Basilica

Situated between Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace, Basilica di San Marco, or Saint Mark’s Basilica, is the most prominent of all Venice churches. The church was built during the ninth century to house relics of Saint Mark, which had been stolen from Alexandria, Egypt, by Venetian merchants. While the current church building is a result of restoration completed in the 11th century, much of the basilica’s exterior adornment was added later, especially during the Far East trading boom of the 14th century. The result is one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world today. Visitors can enjoy Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic artwork. Most impressive are the many mosaics, some as old as the 13th century. The basilica is also home to four bronze horse sculptures, originally displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople.

Saint Mary of the Friars (aka The Frari)

Saint Mary of the Friars (aka The Frari)
Saint Mary of the Friars (aka The Frari)

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, or Saint Mary of the Friars, is located on Campo dei Frari in the the San Polo district of Venice. The current church, completed in the 15th century, replaced an earlier Franciscan church from 1338. Its unadorned Italian Gothic exterior and light-filled, spacious interior reflects the Franciscan ideology of simplicity. The building’s bell tower, or campanile, is Venice’s second highest, under that of San Marco. Known locally simply as Frari, this church is celebrated for its many pieces of artwork significant to the Venetian Renaissance, including Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin, hanging over the main altar since 1518.

Church of the Madonna

Church of the Madonna
Church of the Madonna  Image: yellow book (flickr)

Madonna Dell’orto, or Church of the Madonna, is one of the lesser-known Venice churches. Tucked away in the quiet Cannaregio neighborhood, most visitors to Venice aren’t aware of this church. Its architectural style is uniquely gothic, offering tapered spires and an ethereal quality not common to the rest of the city. The church was dedicated and named after a statue of the Madonna, which was believed to have healing powers, was found in a nearby garden in the 14th century. Church of the Madonna is best known as a favorite of Italian painter, Jacopo Tintoretto. It houses many of his large paintings, including Last Judgment and The Worship of the Golden Calf, and is also the artist’s final resting place. The church also features works by several other popular Italian painters, such as Bellini and Giovane. Church of the Madonna is open to visitors six days a week and charges a minimal fee to tour its grounds.

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