San Marco Archives

October 8, 2007

The churches of San Marco

Carpaccio San VidalThere are 19 churches in the sestiere of San Marco (which includes the island of San Giorgio Maggiore).

My favorites in this sestiere are the Basilica, of course; San Salvador (a beautiful church with an amazing Titian Annunciation); and San Giorgio Maggiore (awesome views from the campanile and a gorgeous church with some great art).

I also like Santo Stefano with its leaning tower and wooden ceiling.

San Vidal has a painting by Carpaccio on the high altar (see left); the saint is riding a horse that was supposedly modeled on one of the four horses of San Marco.

Chorus Pass churches in this sestiere are Santa Maria del Giglio and Santo Stefano.

Churches in San Marco

Basilica di San Marco
San Bartolomeo (San Bortolomio)
San Basso
San Beneto (San Benedetto)
San Fantin (Madonna di San Fantino)

San Gallo
San Giorgio Maggiore
San Luca
San Maurizio
San Moise
San Salvador
San Samuele
San Teodoro
San Vidal (San Vitale)
San Zulian (San Guiliano)
Santa Croce degli Armeni
Santa Maria del Giglio (Santa Maria Zobenigo)
Santi Rocco e Margherita (Ss.Rocco,Stefano e Margherita)
Santo Stefano


Sant’Angelo (Oratorio dell’ Annunziata)

At the top of my “wish list” for this sestiere is San Fantin which is very close to the newly reopened La Fenice. I’ve been by this church many times but it’s never been open. It supposedly has (or had) a miraculous image of the Virgin that was brought to Venice from somewhere in the East.

Currently, there are three campanili (bell towers) that you can go in (and up) in Venice, and two of them are in this sestiere (San Marco and San Giorgio Maggiore); the third one is on the island of Torcello. There are plans to open the campanile of the church of San Salvador soon, which will give us another view from above with a different perspective since San Salvador is closer to the Rialto Bridge. I’m psyched about this! I hope it's open in December.

Update, Dec. 2007: Learned that San Fantin is closed indefinitely for restoration. I also learned that San Teodoro is a church not an oratory so I've moved it into the church list.

A lady at San Salvador told me that their campanile project is stalled. Oh well, stay tuned.

Continue reading "The churches of San Marco" »

October 24, 2007

Basilica di San Marco by Renoir

Renoir - Piazza San Marco

French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir visited Venice in 1881 and painted several scenes including this one of Piazza San Marco. He did a fine job of capturing the Basilica’s overall sense of color, I think. He even makes the pigeons look nice!

This painting is in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

November 2, 2007

San Giorgio Maggiore


One of Venice’s most beautiful and familiar vistas is the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and the great temple of a church that Palladio built there. Many artists have painted it, millions of tourists have photographed it, John Ruskin hated it. But no matter what you think about this church, can you really imagine Venice without it?

San Giorgio Maggiore

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April 18, 2008

San Giorgio Maggiore sunset

San Giorgio Maggiore sunset

I've written about this church here but wanted to share this scene. This was one of those "right place, right time" photos; I'd spent all day exploring the maze in Castello and then ended up out on the Riva just as the sun was going down.

Another view in the day time. I'm still amazed at how many beautiful winter days there were in December.

San Giorgio Maggiore

July 2, 2008

San Moise

San Moise

A wooden church dedicated to San Vittore was built on this location in the 8th century; it was rebuilt in 947 by Venetian nobleman Moise Venier who rededicated it to his name saint, Moses (San Moise). This is one of several churches in Venice dedicated to Jewish Old Testament heroes who technically weren’t Christians at all (Moses, Job, Jeremiah, Samuel, Zachariah).

The church we see today was built in 1628 and its crazy over-the-top façade added in 1668. Public statues were more or less forbidden in Venice so families who wanted to immortalize themselves in stone could finance a church façade instead. Many of the scenes on this façade are connected to the lives of the Fini brothers, a “nouveau riche” Venetian family who had only recently bought their nobility from a cash-poor Republic that had started selling titles.

John Ruskin called it a “frightful façade.” W.D. Howells, American ambassador to Venice in the 19th century, described it as “in every way detestable.” Guilio Lorenzetti (author of Venice and Its Lagoon) more kindly called it “a confused, picturesque Baroque structure with superabundant decoration.” Hard to believe, but at one time there was even more junk on the front of this church – some sculptures fell off or were removed when they became dangerously loose.

And as if the church wasn’t bizarre enough – in May 1752 during a violent storm, the priest and his server were killed while celebrating Mass when a bolt of lightning came in through the roof and down through the metal cord of a hanging lamp.

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May 23, 2009

San Gallo

San Gallo

Some call it a church, some an oratory – either way, San Gallo is no longer open for Mass but is used occasionally for art exhibits. I walked by this sweet little church many times before finally finding it open this past December.

The most interesting thing about this place is its connection to Doge (and Saint) Pietro Orseolo I, the only Venetian Doge who was ever canonized.

Pietro Orseolo was Doge for only two years in the 10th century, but he was a wise ruler who’d inherited a Republic on the verge of bankruptcy and a city center that had just been devastated by fire. He had to set up government in his own house while the Doge Palace was being rebuilt, and much of his own personal fortune went to rebuilding the palace and the Basilica di San Marco.

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August 10, 2009

Sant' Angelo


Sant’ Angelo is a very spacious campo in the sestiere of San Marco, and one reason it’s so large is because there used to be a parish church here, San Michele Arcangelo (dedicated to Archangel Michael). The church is gone but you can still find an oratory and a very cool vera da pozzo (wellhead).

The carvings on the wellhead are connected to the name of the oratory (Oratorio dell’ Annunziata) or oratory of the Annunciation. Archangel Gabriel is on one side of the well holding his lily, and Mary is on the other side, receiving the good news.

Annunciation (Gabriel with lily)


Oratory of the Annunciation


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December 22, 2010

San Teodoro

San Teodoro

I’d read about this Renaissance church and seen a few photos of it, and I was so excited to finally see it in person. What a weird little church, tucked away in a small courtyard right behind the apse of the Basilica di San Marco. It mystifies me as to why they felt the need to build another church in this location!

San Teodoro was built in 1486 by Giorgio Spavento (an architect sometimes credited for the famous spiral staircase, Scala Contarini del Bovolo). The little church is behind San Marco, and its right side is attached to the back of the Doge’s Palace. The brick façade was originally covered with frescoes which are long gone, and the doorway is surrounded with some fine floral carvings. The mosaic above the door shows San Teodoro (St. Theodore) fighting the dragon; this mosaic was moved here from the demolished church of Santa Maria Nova.


In the 16th century, architect Jacopo Sansovino built a huge buttress to support San Marco; this thing runs right into the front of the little church. Embedded in the buttress is a fascinating collection of stone and marble fragments from various restorations of San Marco over the centuries. A stones of Venice collage.



In “Another Venice,” Jacopo Fasolo describes this little courtyard:

“The hotchpotch effect is a perfect example of the Venetian expression “andar per le fodere,” that is reaching hidden areas by following secret paths, thus heightening the visitor’s sense of discovery and expectation.” He speculates that this area was a secret passage for the doge and his entourage, perhaps for security reasons after a couple of doges were assassinated while on procession around the city. Perhaps the doge felt the need for a small and secret church too?

The Fasolo book is wonderful, by the way, full of info about lesser-known places along with nice watercolors by the author.

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February 21, 2011

The Cloisters of San Salvador

San Salvador

There’s so much to say about the church of San Salvador that it’s going to take several posts. I thought I’d start with the cloisters of the former monastery and also the campanile.

Don’t think I’m crazy if I tell you to visit the phone company when you’re in Venice. What a beautiful place. These Renaissance cloisters are right next door to the church; they were reconstructed in 1564 to replace earlier Gothic ones. The monastery was closed in 1810 and for some time was used as army barracks. Telecom Italia acquired the property after the First World War and then restored it in the 1980’s. Today it’s the home of Telecom Italia Future Centre which sometimes has exhibits, but there was nothing going on when I visited in November and I was the only one there. There’s a cool aerial view of the church and the cloisters on the Future Centre's website.

San Salvador

The first cloister has a beautiful pink marble vera da pozzo while the second has a white one.

San Salvador

San Salvador

The second cloister also has a view of the church’s campanile which isn't easy to find because of how densely built this part of Venice is. When San Salvador celebrated its Cinquecentenario in 2007, the church announced plans to open their bell tower to the public for climbing. I was psyched! So many towers in Venice but so few are open. Well, I asked the lady in the church about this, and she said that the project is stalled and she's not sure it will happen. It's no longer mentioned on the church's website either. I guess the scaffolding on the tower explains why.

San Salvador

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March 2, 2011

Titian's Annunciation in San Salvador


The church of San Salvador has two paintings by Titian – one that I absolutely love and another that I’m not that crazy about. The painting on the high altar (The Transfiguration) is the one I don’t love – some art historians think it was badly restored and maybe that’s true; it looks a bit flat to me and the colors look strange. But no worries, because the other Titian is a mind-blower – The Annunciation (third altar on the right). Titian was over 70 years old when he painted this one. Mary is being approached by Archangel Gabriel, who looks particularly powerful and androgynous, but all the action is in that impressionistic burst of energy, angels, and light above them.

There’s another Titian Annunciation in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, painted almost thirty years earlier, and it’s really interesting to compare them - the San Rocco one (below) is gorgeous, but it’s so quiet and serene while the San Salvador one is explosive.


There’s an interesting mystery connected to the signature on the San Salvador painting. Titian signed his name and then wrote “fecit fecit” (he did it, he did it). Some scholars think that he was being grouchy and addressing critics who might think that the painting was unfinished or had been done by artists from his workshop and not by him. But Lorenzetti (Venice and its Lagoon) says that Titian signed it that way “to emphasize the miracle of his activity” and that makes more sense to me. I think he knew it was a great painting.

Continue reading "Titian's Annunciation in San Salvador" »

March 7, 2011

San Salvador

San Salvador

One of the eight San Magno churches and therefore one of the oldest in Venice, San Salvador is well worth a visit not only because of its great art collection but also because it’s a perfectly elegant space. The Renaissance church we see today is probably the third church that’s been on this location; legend has it that one of the earlier incarnations had an iron grille for a floor and you could see the water rushing by below. Today in front of the main altar, there’s a hole in the floor with a clear cover, but it’s dark down there and I couldn’t really see very much besides old stones.

The interior is gorgeous and clean with amazing multi-colored marble floors, some of the best church floors in Venice. I’ve already mentioned my favorite things….Titian’s Annunciation, the relics of San Teodoro, and the cloisters next door, but there’s much else to see, including several impressive funeral monuments for various Cardinals and Doges, and also one for Caterina Cornaro, the queen of Cyprus who gave her island to the Republic.

Pretty much every church you visit in Venice has someone in attendance; old guidebooks call them “sacristans” but today they are more like security guards in most cases. But San Salvador has several ladies who seem more like docents, and they love to talk about their church. One of the ladies told me that San Salvador is the second most important church in Venice after San Marco – a debatable claim but I admired her loyalty and love for the place.

Anyway, when you visit, ask one of the ladies if you can see the sacristy – it’s an incredibly beautiful room with 16th century frescoes of trees, flowers, and peacocks. A nice and surprising change of pace, like walking into a secret garden. These frescoes were whitewashed over when the French suppressed the monastery and have recently been uncovered and restored.

Titian's Transfiguration on the high altar. The altar to the right is where San Teodoro's relics are.~

San Salvador

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June 8, 2011

San Basso

When I was in Venice last November, I was happy to see that the façade of this formerly grungy former church had received a cleaning! There’s still some scaffolding around it and who knows what else is going on, but it looks much better now as you can see in the “after and before” photos below.

San Basso

San Basso

San Basso faces the Piazzetta dei Leoncini, just north of the Basilica di San Marco. This piazzetta used to be called Campo San Basso and for centuries, there was a vegetable market there. The name was changed to “dei Leoncini” when the two red marble lions were added in 1722.

Founded in 1076, San Basso is one of the most ancient churches in Venice. It burned down along with 22 other churches in 1105, then burned again in 1661 and was rebuilt in 1670 as we see it today. Longhena is sometimes credited with the design of the façade but there seems to be some doubt about that.

Along with many other churches, San Basso was closed and deconsecrated in 1810. It was privately owned for a while and then later in the 19th century, it became the property of San Marco which used it as a warehouse and restoration workshop, then as a museum for a while, and now uses part of it for people to check their big bags before they are allowed to visit the Basilica. It’s also used for Vivaldi concerts and lectures.

The interior looks mainly like a lecture hall, but there are a few traces of church decoration and a nice Madonna mosaic. Other fragments from the church are on display in the courtyard in front of the church of San Teodoro, behind the Basilica.

San Basso

San Basso

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August 24, 2011

San Vidal

San Vidal

This is a deconsecrated but still active church, easy to find because of its proximity to the Accademia bridge and campo Santo Stefano. Founded in 1084 by Doge Vitale Falier who dedicated it to his name saint (Vidal is sometimes spelled Vitale).

This 2nd century saint was a wealthy man from Milan, married to St. Valeria, and their sons, Gervase and Protase, became saints too and have their own church in Venice (San Trovaso). For years, the clergy of San Vidal would lead an annual procession over to Dorsoduro to visit the sons’ church, keeping it all in the family I guess. The most famous church dedicated to this Italian saint is the basilica in Ravenna.

Venice's church of San Vidal was rebuilt in the 17th century, and Canaletto’s painting, The Stonemason’s Yard, shows the reconstruction in progress. The church was closed along with so many others after the fall of the Republic.

There’s a sweet little note in Lorenzetti’s guide book (Venice and Its Lagoon) published in the early 20th century. He notes that San Vidal is closed but says that if you want to visit it, you can ask the nearby flower seller for a key. Simpler times in Venice…

In his 1985 book, Vidal in Venice, Gore Vidal reported that dozens of cats lived in the campo next to this church, supported by local ladies and doing well. At that time, the church was an art gallery.

Well, the cats are gone, alas, and today, the church hosts concerts by Interpreti Veneziani and has recently joined the Chorus Pass organization and is now the headquarters for its cultural activities.

This church is almost always open and is worth stopping in since there are several nice paintings inside, including an Annunciation by Sebastiano Ricci and a Guardian Angel with Saints by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta.

The best is over the main altar, a painting of San Vidal on horseback by Carpaccio (I say, never pass up an opportunity to see a Carpaccio!). Hugh Honour (Companion Guide to Venice) says that he’s sure that Carpaccio used the San Marco horses as models for the horse in this painting. Here's a video of Interpreti Veneziani performing a Vivaldi cello concert in front of the Carpaccio.

San Vidal

San Vidal

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August 30, 2011

The bell tower of San Vidal

San Vidal

This is such a pretty campanile. The San Vidal bell tower is older than the rebuilt church, or at least its foundations are. This tower was damaged by fire in 1105, by earthquake in 1347, restored again in 1680, and then again in 2000.

Over the door is a 15th century relief in tondo of St. Gregory with a dove, a really nice piece of public art.

San Vidal

San Vidal

Here it is, visible from the Grand Canal~

San Vidal

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September 13, 2011

Santa Croce degli Armeni

Santa Croce degli Armeni

The Armenian church is one of the most mysterious in Venice. This little church is so embedded in the urban fabric, who knows what it even looks like? The entrance is within a sotoportego, and you can get only glimpses of the building itself when you walk around the neighborhood. I had to walk a long way away from the entrance to get this photo of the campanile!

From The World of Venice by Jan Morris:

“It is a strange little building. Its campanile, now silent, is so surrounded by tall buildings and chimneys that you can hardly see it; its façade is unobtrusively hidden away in a row of houses, and only the cross on the door shows that it is a church at all. Inside it is shabby but brightly decorated, and the floor of the vestibule is covered with memorial slabs, extolling the virtues of eminent Venetian Armenians – “He lived as a Lion…” says one, “Died as a swan and will rise as a Phoenix.”

Even though it's hidden, it's not that hard to find thanks to these yellow signs in both Italian and Armenian. Follow the arrow, find the sotoportego, and then you'll find the entrance to the church (though you won't find it open unless you're very lucky).

Santa Croce degli Armeni

Santa Croce degli Armeni

Santa Croce degli Armeni

By the 12th century, the Armenian community was established in Venice, merchants and scholars who had fled the Turkish invasion of their homeland. They became one of the Venetian Republic’s wealthiest foreign communities and remain active today. The merchants had a warehouse in this part of sestiere San Marco, and in 1496 were given permission to build a church. It was rebuilt in 1682-8 and the campanile added then.

The Armenian religious order has a monastery and another church on the lagoon island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni. Strangely, Napoleon left the Armenians alone when he was on his church-closing rampage because of the important scholarly and scientific work being done by the Armenian monks.

Continue reading "Santa Croce degli Armeni" »

September 22, 2011

Open (Santa Croce degli Armeni)

Santa Croce degli Armeni

Thanks so much to Bert for sending these photos and allowing me to post them here. Bert is the only person I know who has found the Armenian church open! He said that some restoration work was going on, and he was able to look around for a bit and take a couple of photos. He didn't know it at the time, but the memorial slab below is the same one that Jan Morris described in her book and that I quoted in my post on this church.

This week on Venice Daily Photo, Bert has been sharing some wonderful photos of Palazzo Barbaro. Check them out!

Santa Croce degli Armeni

April 24, 2012

O is for Oratorio

In 2009, I wrote about the little pink Oratory of the Annunciation (Oratorio dell’ Annunziata) in campo Sant' Angelo in Venice. At that time, I'd walked by this place many times but it was always closed. I found it open in 2010 and was able to go inside to see the interior. It's a sweet little place, and I'm happy to share some photos of it.

It has a wooden beamed ceiling and some stained glass windows. Over the altar is a painting of the Annunciation by Antonio Triva (1626-1699).

Sant’Angelo (Oratorio dell’ Annunziata)

Sant’Angelo (Oratorio dell’ Annunziata)

This statue of Sant' Antonio di Padova dates back to 1800.

Sant’Angelo (Oratorio dell’ Annunziata)

The stained glass windows were casting some colorful reflections.

Sant’Angelo (Oratorio dell’ Annunziata)

Not only was the place open, but they had a brochure from which I learned that the oratory has another name (Chiesa Sant'Angelo degli Zoppi). "Zoppi" means "lame" and at one time, this little church was connected to a confraternity in Venice that took care of invalids and disabled sailors, and also provided dowries for their daughters. It was founded in the 10th century and rebuilt in 1700.

Sant’Angelo (Oratorio dell’ Annunziata)

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


July 20, 2012

PhotoHunt: Music

San Maurizio is a deconsecrated church in Venice that's now a music museum (Il Museo della Musica di Venezia). More info about the church is here.

San Maurizio

It's a cool place. It still looks like a church inside, with altars and sculpture and art, but also has antique musical instruments on display, music playing, and CDs for sale. You can see more photos of the interior on the museum's Facebook page.

San Maurizio

Here's a photo of the entrance. As you can see, admission is free. Check out all the orbs in this pic!

San Maurizio

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

July 26, 2012

San Maurizio

In my last post, I wrote about the Museo della Musica di Venezia, housed in the deconsecrated church of San Maurizio. Here’s some more info about the church itself and its history.

San Maurizio

This church was founded in the 9th century and rebuilt four times over the centuries. It was a parish church until the late 18th century when it was suppressed by the French and then demolished. During this period after the fall of the Venetian Republic, over 40 churches in Venice were destroyed permanently, so it’s very unusual that San Maurizio was so quickly rebuilt and consecrated again in 1828. Why did they choose to rebuild this particular one? The "new" San Maurizio was rebuilt in the neoclassical style with a design inspired by the demolished (and not rebuilt) Renaissance church of San Geminiano which was located in Piazza San Marco facing the Basilica.

The campanile (bell tower) in the photo below belongs to the nearby church of Santo Stefano. A previous incarnation of San Maurizio did have a free standing Gothic bell tower but it was demolished in 1564. Today the church has Roman bells on the roof. The relief carved on the facade shows the Martrydom of San Maurizio and his men.

San Maurizio

About the saint – San Maurizio (St. Maurice) was a 3rd century Roman soldier, one of six thousand soldiers who converted to Christianity and were then martyred. There’s a faded image of him on the circa 1521 vera da pozzo in the campo in front of the church.

San Maurizio

There’s another more elegant image of San Maurizio on the former Scuola degli Albanasi next door to the church.

San Maurizio

This church/museum is well worth a visit. Admission is free, and the opening hours are generous (9:30 - 7:30 daily). It's easy to find too, along the main drag from Piazza San Marco to the Accademia bridge.

San Maurizio

October 10, 2012

San Luca

San Luca

After the fall of the Republic, there were so many drastic changes to Venice’s churches and religious institutions. During the decades of the 19th century when Venice was under French and Austrian rule, many churches, convents, and monasteries were closed, some of them were demolished, and the number of parishes in Venice was reduced from 70 to 30.

So the church of San Luca is unique in that it’s been a parish church since it was founded in 1072 and remains one today. San Luca has changed in appearance since it was founded, however – it was rebuilt and expanded in the Gothic era, and then rebuilt again in 1581. That’s the church we see today, more or less –part of the façade fell off in 1827 and was replaced, and more restoration work was done to the interior in 1881. The church faces a canal and that might have something to do with the façade falling off – even today, you can see the rising damp on the front of the church.

San Luca must have had some status early on since some of the relics brought to Venice after the 1204 Sack of Constantinople were given to the church. San Luca (St. Luke) is the patron saint of artists, and for centuries, the Scuola dei Pittori (guild of painters) had an altar in this church.

San Luca

The first time I visited this church was on a Sunday morning for Mass. Attendance was good and it wasn’t just elderly people, there were families with children there too. When the service was over, people lingered, talking to each other and to the priest. There was a real sense of community which was nice to experience as I walked around looking at the art.

San Luca

German artist Carlo Loth, who spent most of his life working in Venice, is buried in San Luca. The church has a “Miracle of San Lorenzo Giustiniani” painted by Loth, as well as paintings by Palma il Giovane and Heinrich Meyring.

The church’s masterpiece is on the high altar, Veronese’s Virgin in Glory with St. Luke, painted in 1581. There's a lovely frescoed ceiling by Murano artist, Sebastiano Santi (1789-1866) who also worked on the decorations inside La Fenice and Museo Correr. See the San Luca ceiling here.

My favorite thing in this church is a 15th century Gothic wooden statue of the Madonna Enthroned. A wonderful piece of art (first altar on the right). I also saw fossils in the floor of this church.

A memorial plaque on the outside of San Luca, dedicated to the members of the parish who died in the first world war~

San Luca

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October 18, 2012

San Bartolomeo

Founded in 840 and originally dedicated to Greek saint Demetrius, this church was rebuilt in 1170, became a parish church, and was rededicated to the apostle Bartholomew (the church is known as San Bortolomio in Venetian dialect). Several renovations since then, combined with the dense development of this central campo on the San Marco side of the Rialto Bridge, have resulted in today’s church which is engulfed by surrounding shops and is easy to miss. Look for the door (it’s all you can see of the church from the campo).

San Bartolomeo

It’s ironic that the church is so hidden because its campanile is one of the most visible in Venice and appears in zillions of photographs of the bridge.

San Bartolomeo

In the 13th century, this became the church for Venice’s thriving community of German and Eastern European merchants, whose warehouse and offices were in the nearby Fondaco dei Tedeschi (once the Venetian post office, now a Benetton store). During the Renaissance, the Germans decorated their church with some very fine art; they also hired Giorgione and Titian to fresco the outside of their warehouse (those frescoes are long gone except for some faded fragments in the Galleria Franchetti in Ca’ d’Oro). The best art from the church is gone too.

The wealthy German confraternity commissioned a painting from their countryman, Albrecht Durer, who lived in Venice for several years and completed this painting while there in 1506. This work, The Feast of the Rosary (or Rose Garlands), is one of the great masterpieces of the Renaissance, and the inspiration of Bellini (who befriended Durer while he was living in Venice) can be seen in the jewel-like colors. The painting was an immediate sensation, so much so that it only remained in San Bartolomeo for 100 years and was sold to Hapsburg Emperor Rudolph II in 1606; the German merchants sold it for 900 gold ducats which was over ten times more than they paid Durer for it. It’s now in the National Gallery in Prague.


The church’s organ shutters painted by Sebastiano del Piombo are still in Venice but now in the Gallerie dell'Accademia. In medieval and Renaissance times, organ doors were a prestigious commission for an artist – the ones del Piombo created for San Bartolomeo depict four larger-than-life saints. The artist was a native Venetian who studied with Bellini and Giorgione and then moved to Rome where he befriended Michelangelo and spent the rest of his life; there are only a few of his works in his hometown.

Today there are some lavish but rather typical altars, several of which house paintings by Palma il Giovane, the late Renaissance artist who is so very well-represented in the churches of Venice. Probably the church’s greatest remaining treasure is its organ, built in 1775 by famed Venetian organ builder Gaetano Callido, who also built organs for the Basilica di San Marco and the Frari. Callido was so esteemed that the Republic honored him with a tax exemption (quite an accomplishment in Venice, I’d say). You can see the organ and the altars on this interactive map. There are some nice paintings in the Chapel of the Annunciation to the right of the high altar. I also like the painting of Archangel Michael in the third altar on the right.

In November 2011, the church was a venue for an international conference, "The Church of San Bartolomeo and the German community in Venice," the first in a series of conferences about the churches of Venice.

San Bartolomeo

The ancient bell tower was damaged in an 1688 earthquake and rebuilt in 1754. Its Baroque onion dome is easy to recognize and is a helpful landmark when you’re learning your way around Venice. Walk past the doorway to the church and turn down a very narrow calle to find the door of the campanile, which is protected by the grotesque head of some kind of bearded creature with horns. Is his tongue sticking out or does he have a weird chin?

Whatever he is, he’s doing a good job scaring the evil spirits away from this bell tower. Other scary campanile guardians are on the towers of Santa Maria Formosa, San Trovaso, and Santa Margherita

San Bartolomeo

San Bartolomeo

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February 15, 2014

PhotoHunt: Vertical

The campanile of San Marco is the tallest bell tower in Venice and is a strong vertical that's visible from many parts of the city.

San Marco

San Marco

San Marco

San Marco

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

August 6, 2014

August 6 (San Salvador)

August 6 is the Feast of the Transfiguration and for centuries, this was the day that the beautiful Pala d'Argento was unveiled in the church of San Salvador. This Gothic altar screen spends most of the year hidden behind Titian's painting of The Transfiguration on the high altar of the church (though since la pala's recent restoration, I think the church has been showing it on other high holy days too).

You can see the gorgeous restored Pala d'Argento in this 2011 YouTube video.

supper at emmaus

Speaking of art in San Salvador, its two Titians receive most of the attention, but there's another masterpiece with a fascinating story inside this church. It’s such a cool thing when an art history mystery is solved.

Supper at Emmaus was believed to be the work of the great Giovanni Bellini for many centuries up until about 100 years ago. Lorenzetti (whose Venice and its Lagoon was published in the early 20th century) attributes the painting to Bellini and praises it, saying that it’s “remarkable for its luminous colour and the loftiness of its conception.”

Somewhere along the way in the 20th century, art historians decided that it wasn’t painted by Bellini but was perhaps from his workshop. Hugh Honour (Companion Guide to Venice, 1965) says of the art in the church of San Salvador: “There are three outstanding pictures in the church. In the nave there is a "Supper at Emmaus" painted in clear bright colors and flooded with Venetian light…it has been attributed to Giovanni Bellini, though most authorities now assign it to a follower.”

Then during a 1998 restoration by Save Venice, a date (1513) and an inscription were discovered that helped to prove that it was actually painted by Vittore Carpaccio. The fact that there’s a Turk wearing a turban helped to solve the mystery too. The full story is here (The Rediscovery of Carpaccio’s “Supper at Emmaus”, Dated 1513, in the Church of San Salvador).

That little bird in the foreground sure looks like something Carpaccio would paint.

January 13, 2015

San Beneto

San Beneto

This church is dedicated to San Benedetto (St. Benedict) – you can see the saint's name carved at the top of the façade. In typical Venetian fashion, the name of the church was shortened to San Beneto.

San Beneto was founded in 1005 by three wealthy Venetian families. In 1229, the church was given to the monks of San Michele Brondolo (in Chioggia) by Pope Gregory IX. The church gradually fell into ruin and then in 1540, the campanile collapsed and damaged the already crumbling church. Both the church and the bell tower were rebuilt in the 17th century at the expense of patriarch of Venice, Giovanni Tiepolo (the architect is unknown).

In the de Barbari map of 1500, you can see that the old church faced in a different direction and that the bell tower had a dunce cap top similar to San Barnaba and San Polo. The new church was reoriented so that the façade faced the campo.


This is what the bell tower looks like today - it has an onion dome instead of a dunce cap.

San Beneto

The Patriarch of Venice website reports that “the interior is very simple and straightforward, has a single nave” but doesn’t list Mass times or opening hours. I’ve never heard of this church being open, but I don’t think it’s deconsecrated (the patriarch website lists it as a “vicariale” church under the auspices of parish church, San Luca). Is it ever open and is the art still in there? I don’t know.

Lorenzetti (Venice and Its Lagoon) praised the church’s art collection, especially the “remarkable painting” of St. Sebastian by Bernardo Strozzi (a priest from Genoa who was probably the most talented painter in Venice in the 17th century).

Lorenzetti also mentioned the two “good and imaginative” paintings of St. Benedict by Sebastiano Mazzoni (you can see one of them here).

Other works listed by Lorenzetti:

San Francesco di Paola by Giambattista Tiepolo
Virgin in Glory with St. Dominic and Archangel Michael by Carlo Maratta (on the high altar)
Virgin Mary and Saints by Antonio Fumiani (he painted that amazing ceiling in San Pantalon)
A Byzantine Madonna with silver repousse in a marble niche (sigh, I’d love to see this)
A crucifix from the workshop of Paolo Veneziano

I did stumble across this charming altarpiece, dated 1408, from the original church. It’s now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

"Relief Altarpiece with Saints Peter, Paul, and John the Baptist. Attributed to Gerardo di Mainardo. Limestone from the Istrian peninsula, painted and gilded."

It's a signed work. Translation:
On the tenth day of October, 1408, messer Gerardo taiapera [stonecutter] made this altar to messer Saint Peter in reverence of messer Saint Lord God and of Sainted Mary and of all the Celestial Court, Amen.

San Beneto


San Beneto shares its campo with the 15th century Palazzo Pesaro (now the Museo Fortuny).

Museo Fortuny

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