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B is for Basilica

The Latin word Basilica is an architecture term; it is also, in the world of Catholic churches, a "title of honour given to certain churches because of their antiquity, dignity, historical importance or significance as centers of worship." There are close to 1,600 churches around the world designated as basilicas.

Eight churches in Venice are allowed to use the title "Basilica di" before their name, and here they are, roughly in order by age (oldest to newest). By age, I mean when they were built not when they were founded (some of these churches were founded earlier, but the original buildings have been replaced).

Santa Maria Assunta on the lagoon island of Torcello. Built in 1008 so it just recently celebrated its thousandth birthday. Absolutely gorgeous inside.

Santa Maria Assunta (Torcello)

San Marco, the cathedral of Venice. The building was completed in 1063 though the Venetians continued to decorate it inside and out for centuries after that.

San Marco

Ss. Maria e Donato on the island of Murano. The date 1140 can be found on the floor. A perfect example of Veneto-Byzantine architecture plus this church has the bones of a dragon hanging on the wall behind the high altar.

Santi Maria e Donato

Ss. Giovanni e Paolo (aka San Zanipolo). It took over a hundred years for the Dominicans to build this enormous Gothic church: 1234-1368.

Ss. Giovanni e Paolo

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, built by the followers of St. Francis of Assisi. This Gothic church also took over a hundred years to build (1340-1443).


San Giorgio Maggiore, and now we have moved into the Renaissance. This church was built from 1566-1610.

San Giorgio Maggiore

San Pietro di Castello (1567-1621). This one is honored because it's the former Cathedral of Venice. After the fall of the Venetian Republic, San Marco became the city's cathedral.

San Pietro di Castello

Santa Maria della Salute. The new kid on the block. this Venetian Baroque church was built from 1631-1687. So it's only 325 years old.

Santa Maria della Salute

Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


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Comments (19)

All magnificent looking buildings, at least from the outside. I'd love to see them in person.

All these buildings are so impressive! Fascinating styles! But I am especially intrigued by the first building! So old and weathered so beautifully!

Fantastic sequence of beautiful churches. I live the variety of architectural styles and interesting information.

Carver, ABC Wednesday team member


What wonderful architecture! You don't see that here in America.

abcw team

Excellent photos of these beautiful basilicas. marvelous light in the second shot.

I remember a big and old basilica church back in the Philippines. Love your photos.

Rose, ABC Wednesday Team



Wonderful architecture. Each one very different from the other.

Thanks Annie. I didn't know that some of these churches can be called Basilica. I knew San Marco, Salute, S M Assunta and Frari but not the rest. Very interesting. I also read somewhere that all basilicas in the world must be associated with one of the, I believe, four basilicas in Rome considered the major basilicas.
Thanks for sharing.

wow, these are absolutely beautiful churches, especially the last one. just gorgeous!

The Gothic period is my favorite architectural period -thanks for sharing all these beautiful churches!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, great choice for the letter B and what a wonderful photo collection. I did not know that about the term Basilica, what it means and when it can be used. So interesting. I've been to some on your list but not all. I would love the opportunity to visit the others I haven't seen.

Great post, thanks so much for sharing. Have a great week.

Beautiful photos, and what better place to photograph than Venice!

Such a great collection of basilicas and photos! You must get there pretty early to photograph with no tourists and pedestrians!

I love the textures of the church in your first photo.


What a great post and gorgeous photos!! Like a going on a little mini-romp through Venetian church history. Thanks as always for sharing your wealth of knowledge about Venice!


I love Venice. Thanks for visiting my blog.


Lovely basilicas and I think I want to see those dragon bones.

Great collection! Have been to everyone except Santa Maria Assunta (still need to get to Torcello) and San Pietro di Castello (have not heard of this one). I guess I will have to go back to Venice again! ;)

Wonderful shots and architecture!
Thanks for sharing. And thanks for your visit and lovely comment;o)

Have a nice and happy weekend****

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