I’m not a believer, but I do appreciate artistic and architectural beauty, and Venice has several lovely churches that are worth a visit. Here are a few I went to, in order of preference. You’ll find them all on my Google map (key top left).
Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, San Polo, www.basilicadeifrari.it
One of only three Venetian Gothic (see previous post) churches still standing in Venice, this huge vaulted space took over one hundred years to build (starting in 1338). It’s pretty much an essential visit, both for its impressive structure and the numerous artworks stuffed within it. There are many gems to see (photos didn’t always come out due to dim lighting) but my personal favourites were some of the stone carvings on the tombs on the left wall as you go in.
You can click on the galleries for an expanded view.
Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Campiello dei Miracoli, Cannaregio, www.chorusvenezia.org
There’s not that much to see in this pretty little Renaissance church (built between 1481 and 1489) but I love the carvings on the pillars near the door by Tullio Lombardo. The panels in the ceiling showing saints dressed as Venetians are quite striking too.
Click to expand.
I Gesuati (Santa Maria del Rosario), Fondamenta delle Zattere ai Gesuati, Dorsoduro, www.chorusvenezia.org
Rococco (high Baroque) is possibly my least favourite periods of architecture and art (exceptions abound) but this church (built in 1725) is still quite impressive in its overall appearance. My favourite thing was the mirror that allowed you to look at the artwork on the ceiling without cricking your neck! Why don’t all churches have these?
Click to embiggen.
Chiesa di San Zaccaria, 4693 Campo San Zaccaria, Castello, www.patriarcatovenezia.it
This late Gothic, early Rennaisance church (built between 1458 and 1515) is a bit of a gloomy old spot, but the gilded altarpieces in the side chapel are stunning. The church is also famous for its flooded crypt which is interesting for about two seconds.
Click on the gallery for the whole screen view (recommended).
San Giacomo di Rialto, San Polo, www.museodellamusica.com
Located just next to the famous Rialto Bridge, San Giacomo is considered to be the oldest church in Venice. I haven’t been inside but I know it’s famous for its 15th century clock above the entrance, which is infamous for its inaccuracy.
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Dorsoduro, basilicasalutevenezia.it
The imposing Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, guarding the entrance to the Grand Canal, is high on my list for next time, along with several others.
I haven’t been inside but Chiesa di Santa Maria del Giglio has a beautiful facade.
And of course there is the church to end all churches, the Basilica di San Marco, which I have given its own post.
Rennaisance architecture next!