Italy has deep roots within the Roman Catholic religion, about 1,500 years deep. It is no wonder that this country is not short of its share of churches and cathedrals, which includes Venice. Throughout this city’s 118 little Islands, the centuries old churches were mostly constructed during Venice’s period of profound wealth. The city’s religious roots, along with its former prosperity explains why Venice’s architecture and artwork within its religious sites, is breathtaking. The Venetians were the masters at “Go big or go home”.
This city was once a powerhouse of wealth and influence, due to its major roll as a gateway of trade and commerce. Venice’s location gave it the advantage of receiving spices and other commodities from the Oriental trade route, and sell them to the European countries. The wealth created had allowed the Venetians to build an extraordinary city with palaces, mansions, and its cathedrals and churches.
While I was in Venice, I had originally planed on visiting five churches and cathedrals, a pretty lofty goal. In reality due to everything that I did from museums to island hopping, I only achieved three. The three I did visit were extraordinary with their high vaulted ceilings, giant columns, ornate altars, significant sculptures and impressive artworks that were concealed inside their walls. The wealth and power of Venice’s past are showcased in every inch of the city’s churches and cathedrals.
The three I visited in Venice were- Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Basilica Di San Marco and Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. The two that I missed which are also significant to Venice were- the Bascilica di Santa Maria della Salute and Chisea della Pieta (Vivaldi’s Church). I will visit them on my return to Venice, but just note that those are two additional that you must see while exploring the city- Enjoy!
Basilica Di San Marco
The magnificent Basilica di San Marco, commonly known as St. Mark’s Basilica, is one of Venice’s most beautiful historical landmarks. It was my favorite cathedrals or churches that I had visited in the city, due its ornate interior and its rich history. The cathedral is located on the eastern end of the famous Saint Mark’s Square and is attached to the Doge’s Palace, which are two of my other favorite locations in Venice. The whole picture of the three together, is one of the city’s more popular view points.
St. Mark’s Basilica has centuries of history, it was consecrated in 1094 and became the episcopal seat of the Patriarch of Venice in 1807. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Mark the Evangelist, the patron saint of the city, and houses relics of the saint. The city of Venice during the 13th century was the center of wealth and power, and to convey that the original exterior and interior walls were embellished. Precious stones and rare marbles were used, and gold-ground mosaics covered the domes, vaults and upper walls.
Today, St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the most important and popular tourist attractions in Venice and it is strongly recommended to purchase your tickets online, prior to your visit. It is also an active Catholic church, so there is mass service on Sunday mornings. All are welcome to mass, but there is no wandering around the cathedral during services.
For more information – Basilica Di San Marco – St. Mark’s Basilica | Discovering Venice, Italy
Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo
The Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo is recognized as one of the largest churches in Venice, and has the status of a minor basilica. The church is well known to have twenty-five doges buried in the church, when after the 15th century funeral services of Venice’s doges were held here.
The church is impressive in both its exterior and interior. The large brick Italian Gothic Style edifice was completed in the 1430s. It is dedicated to two martyrs of the early Christian church in Rome, John and Paul, and not to the Biblical Apostles.
The grand church’s interior houses various funerary monuments and paintings, which are integral to its history. There are also significant artifacts such as a Byzantine statue housed in its own chapel along the south aisle, the Madonna della Pace, as well as the foot of Saint Catherine of Siena, which is the chief relic of the church.
Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, also known as the Frari, is located in the San Polo district of Venice. Fortunately for us, our flat was right next to the church and just a short bridge crossing away. It is the largest church in the district, and has the status of minor basilica.
The Venetian Gothic edifice, which is built of brick, is one of the city’s three notable structures that have retained this architectural style. Although the façade is rather plain, entering the church is an enlightening experience.
The church’s interior is famous for its imposing wall monuments, which I stood in front of for minutes just to study its details and take it all in. Many of the wall monuments are dedicated to notable Venetians, including several Doges and the artist, Titan. Two of the altarpieces within the church were created by Titan, The Assumption of the Virgin and Pesaro Madonna.
Collect memories not things…
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