According to legend, San Giovanni in Bragora was one of the seven original churches on the islands of Venice. Dedicated to St John the Baptist, the church had been founded at the beginning of the 8th century by St Magnus, the Bishop of Oderzo. It was restored in the 9th and the 12th centuries and rebuilt in 1475 in the Gothic style. Its brick facade is divided vertically by pilasters that mark the internal division of the church into nave and side aisles. Addition to its name is probably derived from the old dialectal word "bragolare", meaning the fishing trade, or from "bragola", meaning a market square, but another tradition states that the church took its name from the Greek "agora", which means simply "square".
The best known painting in this church is "Baptism of Christ", made by Cima da Conegliano. Among the others are "Washing of the Feet" by Jacopo di Antonio Negretti called Palma Giovane, "Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist and St Andrew" by Bartolomeo Vivarini, "Resurrection" by Alvise Vivarini…
Antonio Vivaldi, famous Venetian composer and violinist, and Pietro Barbo, later to be Pope Paul II were baptized in Church San Giovanni in Bragora.
San Giovanni in Bragora is located in Castello area on Campo Bandiera e Moro or De la Bragora, by Riva degli Schavioni.
During my visit at Christmas 2009, I'd read about there being a 'hidden open air chapel' near to San Francesco della Vigne. Although I spent some time trying to find it, I had to give up, as it was too dark. During my latest visit, I came across it by accident!
The home-made chapel is located in a sottoportego (covered passageway). Above one entrance, is a plaque (pic 2) which I think states that this is in memory of victims of war. I'm not sure, but I think it mentions victims of a bomb that destroyed inhabitants houses of Corte Nova-Numbers 1630-1636 and 1849-55 - (Hopefully someone can translate this for me. I can't find a name for it, but it would appear to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The chapel has two small altars facing each other, (with paintings of the Virgin Mary, and Madonna and child) and an attractive carved and painted ceiling (pic 5)
This area of Venice is well away from the tourist hot spots, and is quite an interesting place to just 'get lost' in. You can find some small shops selling groceries, electrical goods etc. Some 'hidden gems' like this chapel.
I've since found out that there was an air raid in August 1916, on Venice, with loss of lives in Cannaregio, and there was also an attack on Arsenale, with the destruction of a submarine, and loss of lives, which could have been the event recorded here.
In September a bomb fell in Piazza San Marco, steps away from the main entrance. If you look carefully on the ground, there is a simple stone paving slab that commemorates this event. Many churches were hit too, causing loss or damage to their structure and artworks.
Venice was the first ever intended target for bombing from the air, The first air-dropped bombs were used by the Austrians in the 1849 siege of Venice. Allegedly, two hundred unmanned balloons carried small bombs, were discharged, but very few actually made it to Venice - probably due to the wind currents of the lagoon.
It's difficult to describe how to find it-The nearest landmark church is San Francesco della Vigna.
Located on the corner of Calle Zorzi and Corte Nuova. From Campo Santa Giustina, take the southern alleyway and continue straight on - keep your eyes open for the street names.
This is one of Venices' 'Hidden Churches' - It's not too difficult to find though- it's sign posted from the Merceries- Leave San Marco Piazza under the Torre del Orologio and look for the small yellow sign. It is hidden from view under a sotoportego - Sotoportago Dei Armeni. I was quite keen to visit this church, as I was staying in the Armenian college in Dorsodura for my 4 night stay, and I had intended to visit the Armenian island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni later that day.
It is only open on Sundays at 10.30 or 11.00 hours for Mass. I arrived just after 11, and hung around until the service was over, then wandered in for a look around.
The small church was rich with incense smoke. An anti room in front of the church was filled with the small congregation- there appeared to be nearly 1 priest for every 3 worshipers!
I wandered into the church and just stood at the edge looking around. Facing me was the main alter, with 2 side alters. 14 pews faced the main alter. 4 incense burners hung from the ceiling.
Above was a domed cupola, painted blue, topped with a narrower 'chimney'.
I'm afraid that I didn't take any photo's, as I was only here for a very short look around before I was told that the church was closing. I'd like to return at my next visit to Venice.
This church is easily missed, as it sits between the shops and houses of the Strada Nuova.
From the Ca' d'Oro Vaporetto stop turn right, and the church is on the left hand side of the street.
My visit was on Christmas Eve, and the church was open for visitors to see the Presepe (Nativity Scene).
The main entrance is here on Strada Nuova, and its side door is in Calle del Cristo, reached via Ramo dell'Oca
The church was built around AD 1000 and re-modeled in the 17th century. I was surprised to find it was much larger, and surprisingly lighter inside, than I'd expected..
Inside are two canvasses from the Bottega del Bassano workshop, “Il Presepio” and “Cristo Deriso” by Heinz and Palma il Giovane (Palma the Younger)
Four statues of saints are located here too, after having been brought from the church of the Servi. They are thought to be the work of Antonio Rizzo.
The presepe was quite interesting- some mechanical movements and a water feature were included in the piece, with aspects of village life going on around the central nativity scene. A woman baking/rolling pastry/pasta? a man cutting wood etc.
As it was Christmas Eve, the figure of the Christ child was absent. (This would be placed in the crib at midnight)
A donations box was nearby for contributions. As I'd asked permission to take some photos, I put a few coins in.
Open daily from 9 am to 12 am.
In Dorsoduro, in particular Campo San Sebastian at the end of the Zattere by Rio di San Basegio
Begun in 1507 and consecrated about 50 years later, the Chiesa di San Sebastian effectively is Veronese. This was his local church and he's buried there. The lion's share of the paintings in the church is his, too. In particular, check out 'Scene della vita di Ester' (Scenes from the Life of Ester).
Other than that, there are relatively few decorations due to the regulations of the monastic order that the church belonged to, which demanded a particularly ascetic lifestyle. Lack of funds did not help either...
In Campo Santo Stefano/Campo F. Morosini, very close to Chiesa Santa Maria Zobenigo.
The first thing one notices it the leaning bell tower (just in case you don't have enough time to squeeze in a visit to Pisa on your Italian voyage!).
Inside, there are three paintings by Tintoretto in the museum there:
- Orazione nell'Orto (Agony in the Garden)
- Ultima Cena (The Last Supper), and
- Lavanda dei Piedi (Washing of the Feet)
In Campo di Santa Maria del Giglio, also not very far from San Marco
Also known as Chiesa di Santa Maria del Giglio. The most interesting feature of the church are the maps of 17th century European cities on the facade, including Candia, Zara, Padua, Rome, Corfu and Split.
Inside, don't miss the 'Via Crucis works, Madonna and child with young St. John by Rubens, artwork by Tintoretto (Evangelists and Christ with two Saints). Organ shutters also feature very fine artwork.
In Campo San Salvador, close to San Marco
From outside, the impression that I had is of a more secular building, but in very fine white stone. Shaped as three crosses, the church is more famous for its interior featuring two works by Titian:
- 'Annunciazione' (Annunciation), to the right of the main altar
- 'Trasfigurazione' (Transfiguration), behind the main altar
Chiesa della Pieta was built in the 15th century according to a design by Giorgio Massari and was consecrated in 1760.
Most of the people on very short trips to Venice miss it, but it's well worth a visit for the amazing frescoes: among them Tiepolo's 'Fortitudine e Pace' (Fortitude and Peace) on the ceiling of the main entrance and 'Gloria del Paradiso' (Glory of Paradise) which is part of the 'Trionfo della Fede' (Triumph of the Faith) series on the choir ceiling.
Santa Maria Formosa is not off the beaten path at all, it is church, built in 15th and 16th century, on the square of the same name, and square & church are among the most visited tourist locations for the two reasons: their beauty and their position – approximately on the half way from San Marco square to San Giovanni e Paolo square. But what is often missed is the mysterious and monstrous head on the bell tower, on its side opposite of the church portal.
We couldn’t find out anything more about it for quite a some time, but Ingrid (VT Trekki) has managed to do that. Here is the quotation from The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin about the subject of this tip – "A head, huge, inhuman and monstrous, leering in bestial degradation, too foul to be either pictured or described, or to be beheld for more than an instant; yet let it be endured for that instant; for in that head is embodied the type of evil spirit to which Venice was abandoned in the fourth period of her decline; and it is well that we should see and feel the full horror of it on this spot, and know what pestilence it was that came and breathed upon her beauty; until it melted away like the white cloud from the ancient field of Santa Maria Formosa."
Vaporetto - Zattere
Also known as Chiesa degli Artigianelli
Not to be confused with Venices other Santa Maria della Visitazione - The Pietra!
I'm afraid that this church was closed at the time of my visit.
This church was the original Gesuati church. It was built by the order of the Gesuati in 1524, along with a monastery.
The 14th century order was disbanded in 1668. The Dominican order took advantage of this, by taking over these properties, then building the better known Gesuati, (or Santa Maria del Rosario) a few metres down the Zattere.
The facade of this church is much simpler than that of its neighbour. It is Renaissance, and was designed by Mauro Codussi in the Lombardesque style.
Its 58 ceiling panels (Umbrian School, 15th century) were recently restored, with funding from The America-Italy Society of Philadelphia in Collaboration with UNESCO.
Open daily 0800 - 1200 and 1500 - 1900.
I forgot to look for the Lions Mouth letter box on the facade. This was used for Venetians to post complaints about health and sanitation matters to the authorities. Next time, I'll be certain to look for it!
San Giacomo dall'Orio in Santa Croce area is one of the oldest Venetian churches. The original foundation of the building seems to date from the 9th century but the church was completely rebuilt in 1225. The churh was restored and modified in the 14th and the 15th centuries, the major renovation was undertaken in 1532 and the of Chapel of the Holy Sacrament was built in 1549. The origin of the name of the church is unknown. Possibilities include being named after a laurel – "lauro" that once stood nearby, a version of "dal Rio" – "of the river", or once standing on an area of dried-up swamp – "luprio".
Exterior of the San Giacomo dall'Orio is very austere, excluding, perhaps, square-plan bell tower built in the 13th century. The interior is beautiful, with quite unique, archaic atmosphere. Wooden keel roof with decorated wooden beams, built in late 14th or early 15th century and recently renovated, looks spectacularly.
San Giacomo dall'Orio treasures several paintings by Jacopo di Antonio Negretti called Palma Giovane considered to be the greatest of his achievements – "Passover", "Virgin and Child with Saints", "St Lawrence Giving the Wealth to the Poor", "The Martyrdom of St Lawrence"… Among the other paintings are "Virgin and Child with Saints" by Lorenzo Lotto, Veronese's "Doctors of the Church" and "Faith and the Holy Spirit"…
Although located on the square of the same name, one of the most beautiful Venetian squares – Campo San Giacomo dall'Orio, the church main facade and the portal face tiny Campiello del Piovan.
Church San Pietro di Castello is on the island San Pietro di Castello – isolated and peaceful part of Venice. There were church at the same place since 7th century, first dedicated to SS. Sergio and Bacco, and then it seems that it was rebuilt by Bishop Magnus in honour of St Peter, and, in honour of the island, it was named San Pietro di Castello. San Pietro di Castello was the he Cathedral of Venice until 1807, when the title passed to St Mark's. After several reconstructions, it was "redesigned" by Andrea Palladio in the 16th century. Paintings in this church are made by Marco Basaiti ("St Peter Enthroned and Four Saints"), Luca Giordano ("Virgin and Child with Souls in Purgatory"), Tizian, Paolo Caliari Veronese, Alessandro Varotari Padovanino…
There is so-called Throne of St Peter, presented to the Doge by Byzantine Emperor Michael III, in San Pietro di Castello. This throne, according to legend, was used by St Peter during his apostolic mission to Antioch of which he was the first bishop. Throne of St Peter plays an important role in Corto Maltese’s adventure in Venice.
San Pietro di Castelo church is on the east side of Venice, and it can be reached by vaporetto ("San Pietro" station), or walking about 10 minutes north-east from Giardini.
As we took the water bus from the boat to St. Mark's Square, and then later from the ship to Murano, we were in the Canale della Giudecca along the southern side of Venice. I saw that one of the pictures was of a church that we later identified as Santa Maria del Rosario. We didn't get a chance to visit anything except St. Marks and ride along the Grand Canal, but we did find out about this church.
Giambattista Piazzetta, who paints elaborate (and somewhat dark) paintings, did two of the three altar pieces for this church – titled “St. Dominic” and “Dominicans,” which fits into the church’s overriding theme. The third altar piece by one of Piazzetta’s rivals, Sebastiano Ricci, is the more colorful “Pope Pius V and Saints.”
"[…] In 1576 Doge Alvise Mocenigo invoked the end of the epidemic and the salvation of the city by constructing a votive temple 'which successors will go and visit, in perpetual memory of the grace received'. The first stone of the new shrine was laid in May 1577, and on the third Sunday in July of the same year Doge Sebastiano Venier proclaimed Venice free of contagion and asked Andrea Paladio to design the church which was completed in 1593. […]"
Santissimo Redentore – Church of the Most Holy Redeemer stands on the Giudecca island, on the waterfront of Canale della Giudecca. It is Andrea Paladio's masterpiece, although his first intention – to build a round church inspired by the Pantheon in Rome was not accepted, but his back-up plan based on elongated Latin cross and massive dome. Palladio did not live to see the church finished. His work, in accordance with his plans, was completed by architect Antonio Da Ponte. Facade of the church is typical Palladian – elegant and white, of a classical calm. Wide staircase of fifteen steps, which is reference to the Temple of Jerusalem, match the diameter of the dome. Above the center of tympanum stands the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
Santissimo Redentore interior is spacious and bright. There can be seen some very noticeable artworks – Alvise Vivarini's "Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Child", "Baptism of Christ", painted by Paolo Cagliari called Veronese, "David and Achimelech" by Jacopo di Antonio Negretti called Palma Giovane… But the most impressive is beautiful, turbulent "Resurrection of Christ", masterpiece of Francesco Bassano.
In the church are wax portraits of the monastery abbots displayed under glass bell jars. Unfortunately we have heard about them to late and we have not seen them. It is the task for the future time.
Santissimo Redentore is the venue of the traditional Festa del Redentore – Festival of the Redeemer, annual celebration of the end of the plague that struck Venice in the 16th century.
Santissimo Redentore is visible from Piazzeta San Marco and it can be reached by vaporetto, "Redentore" station, starting from "San Zacaria Danieli" station.