Known to be one of Venice's oldest churches, la Chiesa di San Giovanni Decollato may have been built as early as the 9th century. Its first historic account comes from 1007 AD when it became a parish church. Subsequent renovations and restorations altered little of the original structure, designed in the Veneto-Byzantine style. The simple interior contains 11th century marble columns with Byzantine capitals and recently unearthed frescoes, thought to be the oldest surviving in Venice. This modest church is dedicated to Saint John the Beheaded (i.e. the Baptist), who is known in local Venetian dialect as San Zandegolà. Nowadays, the church serves the Russian Orthodox community.
With its red ochre and white exterior, la Chiesa di San Giovanni Grisostomo has a distinctive look among Venetian churches. It was originally built in the 11th century, but was destroyed in a 15th century fire. It was subsequently rebuilt after the design by the architect, Mauro Codussi, who died in 1504, two decades before the completion of the church. The campanile (bell tower) was a later addition, completed in 1590. The interior contains beautiful artwork, most notably the altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini and Sebastiano di Piombo.
A beautiful, but neglected church, la Chiesa di Sant'Aponal traces its roots back to the 11th century. It was built in 1034 by the Ravenna community and dedicated to their city's patron saint, Sant'Apollinare or Sant'Aponal in the Venetian dialect. Its square red brick bell tower was built in the 13th century. In the 15th century, the church was expanded and remodelled (some say rebuilt) to its current Gothic form. The sculptures of the Crucifixion on the façade are said to have been part of the altar of the original church. In 1810, during the French occupation, the church was closed and used as a detention centre. Although Sant'Aponal was re-consecrated in 1851 and renovated in 1929, it was closed yet again in 1984. Nowadays it functions as a marriage registry for Venice and, unfortunately, is not open to the public.
The Chiesa di San Salvador (Church of S. Salvador, in English) was built in the 7th century after the appariton of Jesus in a dream to the Bishop S. Magnus. In the 12th century a convent of Canonicals arose next to the romanesque church.
In 1506 Antonio Contarini, prior of the convent, decided to restructure the church, the convent and the nearby residential buildings. He decided to give the project to Giorgio Spavento and later it passed to Jacopo Sansovino.
The facade was finished in 1663 and the bell-tower was started in the 14th Century, but finished only at the end of the 19th Century. It is a single nave church and on the main altar you can see The Annunciation made by Titian.
The Chiesa di San Simeon Grande (Church of St. Simeon the Big, in English) was built in the 14th century. It was restored in 18th century. The interior of the church has got three naves with columns. There you can see two fantastic paintings: Presentation to the Temple work by Jacopo Palma il Giovane and The last Supper work by Jacopo Tintoretto.
Although officially called Santa Maria del Giglio (i.e., of the Lily), this 17th century church is commonly known as Santa Maria Zobenigo. The latter name comes from the Zobenigo (also Jubanico) family who founded the original church in the 9th century. It was rebuilt in 1681 and given one of the most beautiful Baroque façades in all of Venice. The fine sculptures on the façade contain reliefs of a few cities that were once part of the Republic of Venice, while the interior boasts a few paintings by important artists such as Tintoretto. This church is located in a campo named after itself, Campo Santa Maria Zobenigo.
I first heard of this church, when reading 'Miss Garnets' Angel' written by Salley Vickers in 2000, and this was one of the inspirations for my wanting to revisit Venice in 2006. It wasn't until 2008 that I finally got to see inside
The church faces onto a canal and Fondamenta del Soccorso, behind in its campo are a couple of places to eat or drink. It is one of only 2 churches in Venice that you can walk all the way around its exterior walls.
Its two bell towers dominate the skyline, providing a landmark.
The churches foundations date from the 8th Century. The building seen today is 17th century, built in 1618 , designed in the Greek Cross style.
The Angel Raffaele holding the hand of young Tobiolo, and a dog can be seen in relief above the door facing the canal. This dates back to the 16th Century. 2 huge War Memorials can be seen on the same facade.
The main reason for many visiting the church is to view the paintings above the organ, which depict 'Scenes from the Life of St Tobias', a blind prophet who was cured by the Arch-angel Raffaele. The work of art was by Antonio Guardi (or his brother Francesco!) in 1749 or 1753 - my guide books give different dates and which brother DID paint them! The paintings are considered to be some of the best examples of Venetian Rococo work, due to the free brushwork and imaginative composition.
Giambattista Tiepolo was the brother-in-law of the Guardi brothers.
Also worth seeing is the ceiling fresco -'St Michael Driving out Lucifer' painted by Gaspare Diziani, and the various sculptures of Archangel Raffaele. Look for images of Tobias, where he is always seen holding a fish- a prominent symbol in the biblical stories.
There is a switch that illuminates the paintings.
When I visited, it was Christmas, and there was a lovely presepe-(Nativity Scene)
The church was empty, but had a nice atmosphere, with music playing.
Open Thurs - Tues 08.30 - 12.00 & 16.00 - 18.00
Behind the church, there is a campo with a Istrian stone well head. This was dug with the help of funding bequeathed by a Venetian named Marco Ariani, who was one of the victims of the 1348 plague, and had believed he'd caught his deadly disease from drinking contaminated water.
Vaporetto - Ca' Rezzonico
This 18th Century church hasn't been in operation for religious purposes since Napoleons rule-at present it is owned by the University as an auditorium . Nethertheless, it has some interesting features
Its' red brick Campanile is now a truncated tower. Sculptures from the original church can be seen displayed on the camponile and adjoining walls. These include gargoyles, sea creatures, masks and St. Margarets dragon.(which I think is the one in pic 2)
There is also another image of St Margaret and the dragon on a facade of a house nearby.(pic 3)
The bells tower of the church of San Vitale is a high construction, in a quadratic form, made in the 11 century.
The walls of the tower are composing from red elements and on the top of it, under the roof, there is a terrace with columns and round windows.
I passed this church many times, as it was near to my hotel.
On Christmas Day morning, I noticed the side door was open. On entering, there was a service in progress. Although I'm not religious, I decided to stand at the back, and watch. It was quite moving.
Towards the end of the service, the congregation queued to receive a small parcel from the priest. This contained a bread roll with a piece of paper. I'm not sure of the significance of this.
After the service I had a look around. Although not one of Venice's better known churches, it has some famous paintings and historical/ religious history.
The church was founded before 1000AD, after a fire it was rebuilt in 1105 and again in 1549.
The landmark bell tower, was added later. Started in 1601 by Francesco di Pietro, Andrea Tirali added the bell gallery. Its' landmark baroque onion dome was added by Antonio Gaspari in 1712. I'm not certain when the large clock was added.
On April 20th 1801, Pope Pius V11 visited S. Apostoli, a month after he had been appointed Pope. A marble slab above the door commemorates the occasion. To the right is a latin inscription recording the renovation of 1549.
The inscription above the side door, which leads into the ancient site of the Apostles school dates from 1591.
Above the shop at the corner of the church is a gothic inscription from 1351 - the year the school was founded. (see photos below)
Inside, the open and airy church has a single nave, with a neoclassic altar.
Its painted ceiling depicts the Communion of the Apostles and Exaltation of the Cross by Fabio Canal in 1753.
The Corner chapel or Cappella Corner (to the right of the altar) is the interesting part of the church- Its the only chapel remaining from the old church. Its marble pillars are recognised for their skilled craftsmanship and 'the interplay of movement between the arches and the dome they support'
Giorgio Cornaro, a Venetian nobleman, was given permission by the Chapter of the Church in 1483 to build a chapel for his family to be buried together. It was created by Mauro Coducci.
Caterina Cornaro, married Giacoma Lusignano - the King of Cyprus. Widowed, she bequeathed Cyprus to Venice in 1489. (Not as easily as the Doges led the citizens to believe!)
She was buried here, before being exhumed and her remains transferred to San Salvatore Please click onto the link for more info about Caterina.
Marco Cornaro - Caterinas Fathers, and Giorgio - her brothers' tombs rest in the chapel. These are the work of Tullio Lombardo
On this chapels altar is one of the saddest and most haunting paintings that I've ever seen - 'The Last Communion of Santo Lucia' by G B Tiepolo (1748) .
This shows the Saint with her eyeballs having been removed, and being held in a dish. This, and the expressions on the face of Lucia and the priest had me quite transfixed. It is considered to be one of Tiepolos most spiritual works.
Photography isn't allowed, but postcards are available for sale
Donation boxes near the door.
During my visits to Venice, I've visited many of its churches - sometimes they blur into each other. This was one of the memorable ones for me.
Just a reminder, if you wish to visit churches , make sure you are not too underdressed,
As it was very hot, I was not always adequately dressed, to go inside the church, and unfortunatly I was denied access.
Church of Santa Maria del Carmelo, known as Dei Carmini in the Venetian dialect, is located on the square of the same name – Campo Carmini in Dorsoduro area. The church was built in period from 1288 to 1348. The facade was rebuilt in the first decades of the 16th century, and the interior retains the original 14th century appearance – three naves separated by columns.
Among many paintings inside this church are "St Nicholas of Bari in Glory" by Lorenzo Lotto and the "Adoration of the Shepherds" by Cima di Conegliano.
SAN POLO and SANTA CROCE
This church was originally built in the 9th century, dedicated to the apostle Paul. It was rebuilt in the 15th Century. A revamp in the beginning of the 19th century in a neo-classical style adds to the architectural hotch potch - The original foundations are Byzanine influenced. There is a Gothic portal and Romanesque statues of lions at the base of the campanile.
Recent restoration work has included cleaning the interior, and revealing the wooden keel roof.
When I visited on Christmas Day, the church was closed - it also closes Sundays in July and August and 1st Jan.
I had hoped to see some of the paintings inside.
Tiepolos' Via Crucis- Stations of The Cross- painted between 1747 and 1749, when he was only 20 years old. ( Located in the Oratory of The Crucifix) and Tintorettos' Last Supper (On the left as You enter the Church) are two pieces that are apparently worth viewing.
Open 1000 - 1700 daily (from 1300 Sunday and public holidays otherwise).
Admission charge 2 Euros or Chorus Pass. Link for info/prices
No photography allowed
Santa Maria Zobenigo was founded in the 9th century by the Zubanico family, hence the name. But, it’s usually called Santa Maria della Giglio.
The church was restored at the end of the 17th century with the money of the Barbaro family. There are 4 statues representing members of this family on the facade.
Inside the church you can see 16th- and 17th-century paintings done by Tintoretto, Zanchi or Rubens.
Cost: Adult 2.50 EUR
Saint Apollinare Church was founded in the 11th century but rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries.
In 1810 was closed and lost all its works 'till the 1851 when it was finally open again.
There’s just 1 nave with a flat ceiling and 4 altars.