Castello Archives

October 11, 2007

The churches of Castello

negroponte.jpgThere are 27 churches in this sestiere; only Cannaregio (with 32) has more.

San Zaccaria is a must because of its drop-dead gorgeous Bellini altarpiece, but there’s much else to see including a nice gothic chapel and a crypt that you can visit if it’s not full of water.

Another favorite is San Francesco della Vigna with its beautiful Madonna (see left) by the Franciscan friar Antonio da Negroponte, another mysterious artist. This is his only known painting. If you’re only going to bat once, you might as well knock it out of the park as he did. I also love Cima da Conegliano's Baptism of Christ that's on the high altar of San Giovanni in Bragora.

San Giorgio degli Schiavoni is a former scuola and church that’s now a museum; it contains some of my favorite paintings in Venice – the Carpaccio cycle which includes St. George and the Dragon and St. Augustine in his Study (the saint’s dog must be the cutest dog ever painted).

Chorus Pass churches in this sestiere are San Pietro di Castello and Santa Maria Formosa.


Cristo Re alla Celestia
San Biagio
San Francesco della Vigna
San Francesco di Paola (Santi Bartolomeo e Francesco di Paola)
San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
San Giorgio dei Greci
San Giovanni di Malta (Gran Priorale; San Giovanni Battista)
San Giovanni in Bragora
San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti
San Lio
San Lorenzo
San Martino
San Pietro di Castello
San Zaccaria
San Zaninovo (San Giovanni Novo; San Giovanni in Oleo)
San Zanipolo (Santi Giovanni e Paolo)
Sant’Antonin (Sant'Antonino)
Sant'Isepo (San Guiseppe di Castello)
Santa Guistina
Santa Maria dei Derelitti (Ospedaletto)
Santa Maria del Pianto
Santa Maria della Fava (Santa Maria della Consolazione)
Santa Maria della Pieta (La Pieta)
Santa Maria Formosa
Valdese e Metodista (Chiesa Valdese)


Beata Vergine Addolorata
Ca' di Dio (Santa Maria della Ca' di Dio)
San Gioachino
San Marco in Vinea (near Francesco della Vigna)
Santa Maria della Salute (next to Santa Maria Formosa)

I’d love to visit San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti which is inside the hospital complex (formerly the Scuola San Marco, with a gorgeous recently-restored façade). I’ve read that there’s a cat sanctuary in a courtyard inside the hospital which fascinates me too. But I’m not sure how easy or even possible it is to visit – do they really want tourists roaming around their public hospital? UPDATE 11/10: Visited this church!

I’ve tried to visit Santa Maria della Fava at least five times but never found it open. It’s another church with a miracle-working Madonna of some sort. San Zanipolo is one that I want to re-visit; I wasn’t that wowed by it the first time, but I’ve learned a lot about Venice since then so it might be a different experience. It’s an enormous church with the tombs of forty-some doges.

And I want to go check out Sant’Anna, not only because she's my name saint but also because I’m not sure this one is still standing.

Update Dec. 2007: Sant' Anna is there, crumbling and closed, but it IS there. I went inside three new churches in this sestiere: San Martino, Santa Maria della Fava, and San Francesco di Paola.

San Lazzaro remains on my wish list as does Pieta (I think it closes in the winter) and San Lorenzo (still closed but the cats are doing fine!).

I found out that San Giorgio degli Schiavoni is still a consecrated church! The nice man who works there told me that it's primarily a museum but that they do hold Mass there three or four times a year.

Sant' Antonin is deconsecrated and closed. UPDATE: it reopened in 2010 after 20 years of restoration. :)

Discovered two new oratories and added them to that list: San Gioacchino and Ca' di Dio. One source says that they are churches not oratories, but I've put them on the oratory list for now.

Update Dec. 2008. Went inside Sant' Elena. Found out that San Giovanni di Malta is closed for restoration but will re-open at some unknown time in the future.

Continue reading "The churches of Castello" »

October 23, 2007

San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo

The church of San Lorenzo is well-known to readers of the excellent mystery series by Donna Leon. Her hero, Commissario Guido Brunetti, often looks at “the eternally-scaffolded façade of San Lorenzo” from his office window and reflects bemused on the never-ending restoration “work” with motionless cranes and no workmen in sight.

“Venice is covered with active work sites….but there are also eternal projects, work zones without workers that persist for decades, producing nothing….The church of San Lorenzo is the most notorious….” (James McGregor, Venice From the Ground Up, 2006)

I haven’t been inside this church but I keep checking by “just in case” and on my last trip, I found a cat sanctuary on the front porch!

San Lorenzo cats with pigeons

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October 25, 2007

San Giorgio dei Greci

Greci interiorThe Greek Orthodox cathedral with a leaning tower, this church is dedicated to San Giorgio (St. George), the charismatic dragon-fighting, princess-saving saint.

It’s kinda cool that there are four churches in Venice dedicated to St. George – two Catholic, one Greek Orthodox, and one Anglican (founded by the British). He’s a superhero/saint for all seasons, and there are images of him and that dragon all over Venice.

San Giorgio dei Greci

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November 9, 2007

San Giovanni in Bragora

San Giovanni in Bragora

A charming parish church with a couple of famous baptisms.

While there’s been a church on this site since the 8th century, the late Gothic church we see today was built in 1475. The church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist; “bragora” is a Venetian word of obscure meaning.

Located in the corner of Campo Bandiera e Moro in Castello, this church is not that far from the tourist-packed Riva degli Schiavoni. It’s a nice break from the crowds to go to this quiet campo and visit this church.

San Giovanni in Bragora

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April 10, 2008

Leaning Tower of San Pietro di Castello


This is one of the most beautiful campanili in Venice. The leaning tower in Pisa is more famous but Venice has more than one that's a bit wonky. In all honesty, nothing in Venice looks particularly straight but there are at least four other church towers with fairly dramatic tilts: Santo Stefano, San Martino (on Burano), San Pietro Martire (on Murano), and San Giorgio dei Greci (this one had some work a few years ago and is a bit more upright than it used to be, I think).

The San Pietro campanile was the first Renaissance bell tower in Venice, built in 1463-64, and was the third one built for this ancient church.

The first tower, built in 774, collapsed after an 1120 fire. The second was destroyed in a storm in 1442. And even this one has undergone repairs several times after being hit by lightning and damaged in storms. This tower is completely clad in slabs of Istrian stone, and it’s the weight of those slabs that causes it to lean. It’s a beauty.

April 16, 2008

Santa Maria della Fava

Santa Maria della Fava

I love the way the Venetians give nicknames to their churches. The real name of this church is Santa Maria della Consolazione but no one ever calls it that – it's known instead by its charming nickname which translates to Our Lady of the Fava Bean.

And there are stories galore about how the church got that name….a local family named Fava, the fact that beans used to be unloaded from a barge in the nearby canal, a pastry shop close by that sold cookies shaped like fava beans on All Soul’s Day. Some say it’s named for the nearby bridge and canal (boring!). One of the best stories is about a smuggler who was hiding salt in a bag of dried beans and was caught by the police who were getting ready to search his bags. He said a quick but heartfelt prayer to the miracle-working Madonna on the wall and his smuggled salt disappeared, leaving only the beans and he went free.

And yes, this church has a miracle-working Madonna too. This is one that just appeared out of nowhere on the wall of Ca' Dolce and began working miracles, saving smugglers from prison, etc. So a group of devotees bought the house, removed the image, and built a church to put it in. The first church was very small and was completed in 1500 (around the same time that churches were built for other miracle-working images in town, at the Miracoli and Santa Maria Maggiore). It’s fascinating that there was such a rash of miracles at that particular time in Venice.

Continue reading "Santa Maria della Fava" »

May 2, 2008

San Martino


A charmingly cluttered parish church on a canal in Castello not far from the Arsenale, this Renaissance church isn’t listed in most guidebooks probably because it doesn’t have any famous masterpieces, but it’s got a nice eclectic collection of art including some modern 20th century works mixed in with the old stuff which ranges from Byzantine to Baroque. It’s a pretty church with good vibes overall and lots of interesting things to see.

I like the fact that this church feels less like a museum and more like an active part of a neighborhood. One afternoon when I visited in December, the church ladies were having a rummage sale out front –it doesn’t get much better than combining a church visit with some shopping!

San Martino boccaOn the façade of the church, there’s a bocca di leone (lion’s mouth) – these are the letter-boxes where Venetians could lodge complaints and report crimes, the Republic’s version of a crime stopper’s hotline, maybe?

These things were all over town at one time, and different mouths were designated for different grievances; this particular one was the place to complain about blasphemers and the irreverent (!). It might be fun to read some of the letters that were put into this one.

Continue reading "San Martino" »

October 24, 2008

PhotoHunt: Scary


This week's theme is "scary"


This stone face is in Venice on the church of Santa Maria Formosa, over the entrance to the bell tower. It’s meant to be scary although these days, most people just find it funky and interesting.

But back in the Middle Ages, people believed that church bell towers were particularly vulnerable to invasion by evil spirits (maybe because the towers were often getting struck by lightning or falling down). So a tradition began of putting some kind of protective sculptural image on the towers.

Some bell towers have benevolent images like saints or angels, but others, like this one, have grotesque images designed to frighten the demons away.

In the photo on the left, you can see it over the door. On the right, the beautiful tower that it’s been protecting for over 300 years.

SMFface2.jpg smftower.jpg

Happy weekend and have a nice Halloween next week!

January 13, 2009

Sant' Apollonia (and the Diocesan Museum)

This is such a lovely and magical spot. The 12th century cloister of Sant’ Apollonia is the oldest surviving cloister in Venice and today is part of the Museo Diocesano di Venezia (Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art).

sant apollonia

The cloister was part of a Benedictine monastery adjacent to the now demolished church of SS. Filippo e Giacomo. The monastery was built for monks who originally resided on the lagoon island of Ammiana, which sank after the Christmas Day earthquake of 1223, and so the monks moved to Venice. Sinking islands and monasteries…it makes me think about scuba-diving archeologists and what all they might find in the waters of that lagoon.


Continue reading "Sant' Apollonia (and the Diocesan Museum)" »

April 18, 2009

Sant' Iseppo

Sant' Iseppo2

Also known as San Giuseppe di Castello, this church was built in 1512 by the Venetian Senate in response to popular demand for a church dedicated to Joseph, father of Jesus. The church complex also included a small convent and three cloisters for Augustinian nuns from Verona.

In 1801 the convent was taken over by Salesian nuns who opened a girl’s boarding school. Today the convent is a Nautical Institute while the church is a still consecrated and active parish church, though currently undergoing restoration.

Continue reading "Sant' Iseppo" »

June 15, 2009

Madonna dell' Arsenale

These are the gates to the Arsenale, the famed shipyards which were the source of much of the Venetian Republic's wealth. There used to be a small Renaissance church to the right of these gates and thanks to a painting by Canaletto, we can see what it looked like.


Madonna dell 'Arsenale was built in the 16th century by an unknown architect who modeled it on a Greek temple. Looks like a sweet little place. It was demolished in the early 19th century.

Madonna dell' Arsenale, Canaletto

Continue reading "Madonna dell' Arsenale" »

June 25, 2009

San Gioachino


Tucked away on a little calle in Castello north of Via Garibaldi, this lovely 14th century Gothic relief shows the Virgin and Child with saints Peter and Paul. The child is handing a key to Peter and a scroll to Paul.

The relief is over an entrance to a former religious complex that once included a hospice(Ospizio dei Santi Pietro e Paolo) for pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land, a convent, and an oratory dedicated to San Gioachino, father of the Virgin Mary. The hospice was founded in the 11th c. and was later converted to a hospital which was one of the largest in Venice. The complex was closed by the French in the early 19th century; now it's city property and I've never found it open and don't know what (if anything) it's used for today.

Continue reading "San Gioachino" »

October 11, 2009

San Zaccaria

San Zaccaria

On many of the "must-see in Venice" lists, San Zaccaria is a church with lots of layers and art that spans the centuries and styles – it’s a fascinating place but even someone not into churches should pop into this one and spend 10 minutes or so with the Bellini altarpiece, one of the great masterpieces in the city.

One of the San Magno churches, San Zaccaria was founded in the 7th century and then rebuilt after an 1105 fire. The church we see today was built in 1456-1515 and parts of the older churches were incorporated. The façade is a blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles, and the church has an enormous collection of art from Gothic to Baroque. The campanile (12th century) is one of the oldest in the city. San Zaccaria was John the Baptist’s father; some Byzantine emperor gave his body to Venice as a gift, and it's inside the church too.


Continue reading "San Zaccaria" »

The Bellini altarpiece in San Zaccaria


San Zaccariadetail

The photos above show Giovanni Bellini’s Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints, in the church of San Zaccaria where there are almost always a group of people gathered in front of the painting in rapt silence. So many recognizable Venetian details in this painting: the gold mosaics above the Virgin, the red and white marble floor, the mascaron on the top of the throne, a Murano glass lamp hanging down, the Lombardi carvings surrounding the scene, all the glimpses of veined marble. The architecture in the painting is connected to the actual frame itself with tiny glimpses of trees and skies on each side. Everyone is so quiet and beautiful, and only the young angel looks out at us.

Continue reading "The Bellini altarpiece in San Zaccaria" »

May 4, 2010

La Celestia (Cristo Re alla Celestia)


Another Venetian church with a miracle-working Madonna legend, this church is unusual in that it reincarnated after a long period of being closed (it was shut down by the French along with so many others in the early 19th century and then reopened in 1952 in a much smaller form).

The full name of the original church was Santa Maria della Celestia (Assunta in Cielo), dedicated to Mary of Heaven and nicknamed La Celestia. The first church (along with a convent and cloisters) was built in 1119-1239 and was one of many Venetian convents filled with rowdy and sometimes scandalous nuns.

In the 14th century, two noble-born Venetian nuns asked their sea-faring brothers to bring them a miracle-working icon of the Madonna from the East. The icon was supposed to be delivered to the church of SS. Apostoli, but horrible storms whipped up and forced the guys to abandon ship, leaving the icon on board. The unmanned boat ran aground in front of the church of La Celestia, and this was considered to be a miracle and a sign, and so in 1341, the icon was placed over the entrance to La Celestia in a grand ceremony. This is the second Venetian legend that features a Madonna icon driving an unmanned boat – the other one is connected to the church of San Marziale. I’d love to know what happened to the La Celestia icon.

And there's a funny story about the La Celestia nuns. In 1569, their church was virtually destroyed by an explosion in the nearby Arsenale, and they decided to rebuild it in a new modern style inspired by the Pantheon in Rome – round with a dome. Work began and had proceeded quite far and just as the dome was about to be lifted into place, the nuns changed their minds and decided that they wanted a more traditional church with a Latin cross plan. I can imagine the architect and builders saying “arghh!” but it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, right?!


Continue reading "La Celestia (Cristo Re alla Celestia)" »

May 14, 2010

PhotoHunt: Half


This week's theme is "Half."

This is the top half of the bell tower (campanile) of the church of San Pietro di Castello in Venice. A beautiful Renaissance tower that leans a bit, though you can't really tell in this photo.

San Pietro di Castello

This is my 99th PhotoHunt post! I've missed a few weeks here and there, but not that many. I have to say that I really enjoy the Hunt each week. It's fun looking through my archives trying to find something for the week's theme, and it's especially fun seeing what everyone else posts. Thanks so much to TN Chick for hosting and to all my fellow Photo Hunters!

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.


August 24, 2010


Sant' Anna

I was eager to find this one, not just because it’s the church of my name saint, but also because I wasn’t sure if this church was still standing or not (it’s not included on the Patriarch of Venice list which does include other closed and deconsecrated churches). I found Sant’ Anna and it’s there, barely, stripped and crumbling with broken windows.

The church of Sant’ Anna was built in 1242 along with a Benedictine convent and dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of Mary. The church was remodeled in 1634, and then the entire religious complex was suppressed and closed by the French in 1807. The convent later became a naval hospice and then private residences, but the church has just been sitting there for a couple of centuries. Five altars from Sant’Anna were moved to the church of San Biagio close to the Arsenale. The church building is no longer even owned by the Church, it’s now city property and who knows what if anything will ever be done with it.

Even so, there are a couple of good stories about this one, both connected to the nuns. The photo below shows the courtyard with the church to the left and the convent to the right.

Sant' Anna

Continue reading "Sant'Anna" »

September 17, 2010

PhotoHunt: School


This week's theme is "School."

A deconsecrated church in Venice that’s now a school.


One of the San Magno churches, Santa Guistina was founded in the 7th century and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The present building dates to the 17th century, and the sarcophagi on the façade are the resting places of members of the wealthy Soranzo family who paid for the rebuilding. The façade was designed by architect Baldassarre Longhena, whose most famous work is the beautiful church of Santa Maria della Salute which graces the Grand Canal.

Santa Guistina was closed in the early 19th century after the Venetian Republic fell to Napoleon. For a while it was used as a military academy, and since 1924, it’s been a science high school, the Liceo Scientifico.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


October 3, 2010

San Giorgio degli Schiavoni


Whenever anyone asks me about “must see” places in my favorite city, I always mention this little church, one of a handful of places that I never skip when I’m there. It’s truly one of the magical spots of Venice, with a cycle of paintings that remains amazing no matter how many times I see it.

Jan Morris writes in The World of Venice:

“Nothing anywhere is more piquantly charming than the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, which Carpaccio decorated long ago, with a small series of masterpieces. It is no bigger than your garage, and its four walls positively smile with the genius of this delightful painter, the only Venetian artist with a sense of humor.”

Most guidebooks identify this place as a scuola, which it is, but it’s also a church. For a while, I thought it was a former church but the last time I was there, the nice fellow selling tickets told me that it’s still a consecrated church that celebrates Mass a few times a year.

The scuola/church was founded in 1461 by Dalmatian merchants and sailors living in Venice, men from the east coast of the Adriatic in what is now Croatia. The confraternity commissioned Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio to decorate their building with the narrative painting cycle that’s still there today. Carpaccio painted these works in 1502-9, right before the Venetian Renaissance, and for centuries, art critics more or less ignored him, labeling his work as naïve or primitive magical realism of little worth in comparison with Titian and Veronese. Most art historians credit good old John Ruskin for reminding the world about Carpaccio’s genius in the 19th century.

The Roman bell tower on the side of the building with a row of pigeons in front of it~


This painting below, by American artist Joseph Lindon Smith, shows the lower hall of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni with what looks like two characters from the paintings themselves admiring the Carpaccio cycle.


Continue reading "San Giorgio degli Schiavoni" »

December 20, 2010

For Palisandre

Earlier this year, I received a nice comment on my San Zaccaria post from fellow lover of Venice, Palisandre, who asked if I had a close-up of the Madonna above the portal that leads into Campo San Zaccaria. I had a photo of that beautiful relief but not a close-up, so I put that on my "to do" list on my recent trip.


This is one of the nicest pieces of outdoor sculptures in Venice. It's a late Gothic work that was done around 1430 and shows the Madonna and Child in between John the Baptist and St. Mark with San Zaccaria above them.

Thanks to Palisandre for inspiring me to re-visit her. She's just as beautiful as the Bellini Madonna inside the church. And I love the expression on the baby's face and the way his hand is on her shoulder.


Continue reading "For Palisandre" »

January 13, 2011

San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti

San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti

So as I said, it took me a while to find this church but I finally did and even better, I found it open!

In the 13th century, there was a hospice and refuge for lepers in Dorsoduro (Lazarus is the patron saint of lepers). The colony was later moved to a lagoon island and then moved back to a hospice in this part of Castello adjacent to the monastery of San Zanipolo, the huge Gothic church that’s nearby. The original oratory was replaced by the church we see today, which was built at the end of the 16th century and consecrated in 1636.

San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti became one of several churches in Venice that provided musical education for impoverished young girls. In fact, the church has an atrium or vestibule designed to block out street/canal noise during the girls’ recitals, and there are also singing galleries inside the church itself.

San Lazzaro

There's lots of interesting stuff in this church, including two pretty good paintings - a Christ on the Cross by Veronese and St. Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins by Tintoretto. Both came from the demolished church of the Incurabili. The colors and textures of the dresses in the Tintoretto are nice; here it is:




Continue reading "San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti" »

June 1, 2011

A few of my favorites

There are so many thousands of images of the Madonna all over Venice, both inside churches and museums, and out on the streets in carvings and shrines. Here are a few of my favorites that can be found inside various churches.

This gorgeous and elegant 13th century relief is high up on a wall of the church of San Francesco della Vigna. A marble Veneto-Byzantine relief with traces of gold, it's one of many beautiful works of art in this church.

San Francesco della Vigna

This next one can be found in the church of San Pantalon, in a niche on the wall of the Capella del Santo Chiodo. This chapel houses one of Venice's most-revered relics, a sacred nail used in the Crucifixion. Also 13th century, this statue of the Madonna and Child is alabaster with traces of decoration added a few centuries later. Wonderful crowns on them both! More about San Pantalon coming soon (it's a strange and fascinating church).

San Pantalon

These next two can both be admired in San Giacomo dall'Orio.

The first one is also 13th century, an image in Greek marble of the Virgin Orante. It's tucked away in a niche in the wall behind a large wooden cabinet where the church puts literature for the parishioners; it's easy to miss. I love her and also the bricks surrounding her.

You can't miss the second one though as she's right beside the entrance to the chancel and always has fresh flowers in front of her. She's 14th century, known as "Our Lady of the Annunciation."

San Giacomo dall'Orio

San Giacomo dall'Orio

October 11, 2011

Cloisters of San Francesco della Vigna

There are three cloisters (chiostri) surrounding the church of San Francesco della Vigna, but I only managed to find my way into two of them. The first photo shows the lovely and green Chiostro San Francesco, with cypress trees and a statue of the saint in the center. The entrance to this one is from inside the church, close to the sacristy where the Bellini is.

San Francesco della Vigna

These next photos are Chiostro del Pozzo, named for the beautiful vera da pozzo (well-head) in the center. Love the flowers on its sides. You can access this one from the monastery building to the left of the entrance to the church.

San Francesco della Vigna

San Francesco della Vigna

San Francesco della Vigna

The cloister I missed is the Chiostro dell' Orto (Garden cloister) where the monks grow grapes and other crops. Next time...

January 22, 2012

San Lio

San Lio

Founded in the 9th century, this church was originally dedicated to Santa Caterina but was later re-dedicated it to Pope Leo (Leone) IX, an 11th century saint who, when he was pope, defended Venice’s right to independence in one of the many religious skirmishes the Venetian Republic had with Rome. The church was remodeled and restored in both the 16th and 18th centuries.

The campo and the façade of an older incarnation of the church can be seen in the Accademia in Miracle of the Relic of the Holy Cross in Campo San Lio, painted in 1494 by Giovanni. Mansueti. The relic involved in this miracle still resides in Venice in the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista.

San Lio

San Lio is now the headquarters of the Pastorale del Turismo e Beni Culturali (Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Heritage) created by the Patriarch of Venice a few years ago. You can read about this here; the church is intended to be a place of reflection and refuge for tourists and even has a reading room with books about Venice, art, and spirituality.

San Lio

San Lio

Continue reading "San Lio" »

August 30, 2012

News about San Lorenzo

Just yesterday, I learned that the long-closed church of San Lorenzo has reopened! Thanks so much to Alex for leaving a comment on my blog with this exciting news.

The Comune di Venezia (which owns this deconsecrated church) has leased it to Mexico who will use it as their Biennale pavillion for the next nine years. They are in there now (the International Architecture Exhibition opened this week), and you can read an article here that says,

"Although the space is not yet in a safe condition to allow visitors, individuals will be invited to view the ongoing restoration from the entrance."

The article includes a photo of the interior and it still looks like a church inside - you can see the main altar and the choir screen that used to separate the nuns from the public. I can't wait to see it in person! I wonder if they have relocated the cats and the cat condos?
UPDATE: The cats are still there. See Fausto's blog for many photos of the interior and also the relocated cat condo.

A painting of San Lorenzo by Italian artist Filippo de Pisis. I see pigeons and maybe a few cats too in the campo!


December 4, 2013

Inside San Lorenzo

I first wrote about the church of San Lorenzo in 2007. At that time, it was deconsecrated and had been closed for decades, and was best known for being the church that Commissario Guido Brunetti can see from his office window in the Donna Leon series of mystery novels set in Venice. San Lorenzo was also known for its cat condos and the small group of homeless cats who lived there.

Then in 2012, we got the news that San Lorenzo was going to re-open as the Biennale venue for Mexico.

Vern, a Hoosier in Venice, visited the church this fall and sent these photos to me. Thanks so much to him for allowing me to share them on my site. It's fascinating to see the church decoration that remains and also the amount of restoration work that's needed (those big holes in the floor!).

The church was divided by this choir screen with a high altar that faced in two directions so that the nuns could attend Mass but not be seen by the public. Most convent churches had nuns' galleries where the nuns could be hidden upstairs, so San Lorenzo's plan is rather unique.



San Lorenzo NorthFrontNave2

San Lorenzo NorthFrontNave1

San Lorenzo LArch

San Lorenzo Cherub

San Lorenzo CenterRoodScreen~

I was happy to see that the cats are still there! Their shelters have been moved from the porch of the church to the bottom of the steps, adjacent to the former convent which is now a retirement home.

San Lorenzo CatShelter

Coming soon, a look inside another deconsecrated church, Sant'Anna. Thanks Vern!

December 19, 2013

Inside Sant'Anna

Thanks again to Vern, a Hoosier in Venice, for sharing his photos and allowing me to post them here.

I wrote about Sant'Anna here; it's a crumbling deconsecrated church in Castello with a fascinating history. Vern noticed that the door was partially open and was able to get a photo of the interior. It's pretty desolate inside; you can barely tell that it was ever a church.



This church is no longer owned by The Church - it's city property and it's unlikely that the Comune di Venezia has the money to restore this place along with the many other dilapidated palazzi they own. They did restore the adjacent Sant' Anna convent which was turned into housing.

Some photos of the Sant'Anna cloisters are here.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Churches in Venice in the Castello category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Cannaregio is the previous category.

Dorsoduro is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.


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