Most people probably visit this church after having viewed it from across the water, and been attracted to its Palladian style. Others to take in the views from its Campanile (bell tower). My trip was for both reasons.
My visit was extra special- being Christmas Day morning, as all the church bells across Venice were taking it in turns to ring out a peal. Also, the overcast skies of the previous days had cleared to leave a bright blue sky with sunshine!
This stunning church is famously designed by Palladio. Its white stucco interior and stone exterior were chosen deliberately by the architect, who stated "Of all the colours, none is more proper for churches than white; since the purity of colour, as of the life, is particularly gratifying to God"
It was designed in 1556, and wasn't completed until 1610, when the facade seen today, was added.This was 30 years after Palladio had died.
It is considered his masterpiece.
Palladio managed to solve the architectural problem that was facing Renaissance church designers- Many of the previously erected churches were of Venetian Gothic design, having high central naves and lower aisles, which were aesthetically as well as architecturally out of keeping with the new fashion for classical forms.
Palladio was inspired by Roman Temples, and superimposed two temple fronts. The nave was refashioned by installing two huge Composite columns, that supported an upper pediment. Lower half pediments resting on Corinthian pilasters altered the aisle. The interior and exterior are uniform with this design. The inspiration for the high windows was A Roman Bath!
The location of the church on the island adds to its majesty, with its image being reflected in the water.
I particularly enjoy the view from the Ducal Palace across to San Giorgio, at all times of day and night. My favourite time has to be in the early hours of Christmas Day 2008, when I was stunned by the illuminated church - A Magical moment.
Then a few hours later, viewing Venice from the top of the Campanile, as the churches were each ringing their bells. A clear blue sky, with the sun shining, and in the distance, snow capped mountain peaks!
After visiting the basilica, pay 3 euros and take the lift to the campanille and enjoy its views that offers of Venice, is cheaper than the campanille in St Marks and is not crowed of tourist.
Después de visitar la basilica, paga 3 euros, coge el ascensor hasta el campanario y disfruta de las vistas que son una pasada, es mas barato que el campanario de San Marcos y van menos turistas.
The Basilica was begun in 1566, and was not entirely finished before the death of Palladio in 1580. The facade was continued by Vincenzo Scamozzi based on the original architect's designs and completed in 1610.
La basilica actual se empezó a construir en 1566 y no fue acabada antes de la muerte de Palladio en 1580. La fachada la continuó Vicenzo Sacamozzi basada en el diseño original y fue acabada en 1610. En ella se encuentran los últimos cuadros de Tintoretto: La última cena, recogida del maná y la deposición.
Its only a litte island as you can see looking across from St Marks basin but well worth a short detour on the vaporetta - make sure you get the right water bus stand, there ae so many on the quayside in this area by the bridge of Sighs and sometimes the same number water bus has a different stand for the night service just to complicate things!
Take a look across at the view first.
The interior of the church is peaceful and solemn - except for the two glorious paintings by Tintoretto in 1594 entilted the "Last Supper" and "The Gathering of the Manna" on the chancel walls. The choirstalls were amazing and intricately carved - rows of lions here! They reminded me of the choirstalls in Chester Cathedral much nearer to my home :-))
There is no ticket office for the bell tower in the church - simply give your euros to the monk in the lift who will escort you to the top of the tower. Its only a small lift so just a few at a time allowed. From the top are the best views of Venice - the area seen here is part of Castello.
The view that enthralled me the most from the bell tower was the view looking across to the entrance of the Grand Canal and the visible dome of Santa Maria Salute - the notable venetian landmark. I could have stood for ages watching the boat traffic navigating St Marks basin and right in the distance huge ships were visible..
There has been a monastery on this island of san Giorgio Maggiore since 982, although the current buildings date from the 16th century. Today the monastery is a scientific and cultural foundation and a conference centre - open Mondays - Fridays by appointement only. At the rear is the open air ampitheatre Teatro Verde.
Make sure you fork out the 3 euros to ascend the lift in the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore. The views out to the monastery and the neighbouring island of Guidecca provide a new perspective of Venice not often seen.
Pick your time carefully to vist the campanile - at the bottom of the lift is a list of times when the bell chimes, the number of bells used andnumber of chimes. Fortunately for us it was only one o'clock as we emerged from the lift at the top - even so the unexpected single clang made us jump! The views from the top are lovely - perhaps finer than those from the campanile of St Marks bell tower - seen in this pic.
The vaporetta stops just outside the church here on this quiet little island - its strange to imagine the tourists which are flocking into St St Marks square just across the basin. An ancient vineyard and saltpans made way for this splendid church, looking like a greek temple, by Andrea Palladio. The church was built as part of the Benedictine monastery on the island and its facade is scaled to present a public face to the town of Venice.
To the side of the church is a small marina with 2 lighthouses on guard. Its a pleasant stroll around here with fine views across to St Marks - the quieter way to appreciate it!