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Ruins of the Baptistry


In front of the Torcello cathedral are the ruins of the 7th century baptistry – a round and romantic hole-in-the-ground that in December 2008 was filled with water. Not sure what's so fascinating and attractive about these ruins but I stood and looked at this for a long time.

In the early days of Christianity, it was common to build a separate baptistry so that believers could be purified before entering the church. Two of the most famous free-standing baptistries in Italy are the one in Florence across from the Duomo and the one in Pisa with its amazing acoustics. At some point, churches began including the baptistry as a chapel or separate room that's inside the church itself.


This one was built on a circular plan with its entrance facing the cathedral; the interior had eight columns supporting a dome with an overall design reminiscent of classical Roman temples.

I love that round piece of pink marble. No clue what it was used for, but it’s quite beautiful.



A black cat walking by the fence that surrounds the ruins~


And speaking of ruins...on the way to Torcello, you pass the abandoned island of Madonna del Monte (now split into two islands). It used to have a church but I don't know if any of these ruins are it. It's a cool-looking place but to visit it, you'd need your own boat (the vaporetto doesn't stop there!). I've said this before, but I think being an archeologist in the Venetian lagoon would be a blast.


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Comments (7)


Annie, I can totally see why you would be drawn to these ruins. They look beautiful and peaceful and so steeped in ancient mystery. I love your gorgeous photos. Wouldn't it be marvellous to have your own boat and be able to check out all those little bits of ruin strewn around the Lagoon?

Thanks for this wonderful post!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie,I enjoyed learning about this baptistry. It's interesting with the water inside of it. I also like the pink marble one. I wonder if there was some kind of important role for it since it stands out. Very interesting.

Thanks for this wonderful post and sharing your great photos. Love the one with the little cat running across... and the ruins on the Madonna del Monte island too.

Have a great day today!

Remarkable that anything is still standing since the 7th century! Great post. Love the photo and the mystic of the split ruins of the Madonna del Monte.


Annie, that would be a fascinating career -- I can't even imagine all the treasures lurking in the Venetian lagoon, for an archeologist or a historian!

I wonder if the round marble was the base of a large baptismal font? Strange that the rest might have been taken but maybe the borrowers were too lazy to dig out the base and just lobbed it off at ground level, and the ground has since receded to expose the base.

Baptistries can be so beautiful -- your photos here are fascinating. I didn't know that Pisa's has great acoutistics. Another reason I should visit there!

I would have stood and stared at the baptistery ruins for along time too. I love your photos!

Interesting photos. It must have been very cool to see this in person, wondering what once was.

I would guess the round piece of pink marble is where I guess the water goes for the baptism. Most Baptisteries have one (although sometimes they are more octagonal in shape).

Another very cool Baptistery is the one in Parma.

I finally saw the inside of the one in Bergamo this summer. The door was open for the first time (3rd visit to Bergamo). It was still gated off but I was able to peek inside and take a couple of photos.

Cool photos! I love looking at the reflections in the water.

I recently read somewhere - maybe in Nan's blog - of a boat tour of the lesser known Venetian islands. I have to look for the link because it sounded very interesting and something that I'd like to do on my next visit.

A baptismal font was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the round marble photo. Maybe it was part of the base?

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