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The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

1. Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

This is the biggest church in Venice and also, in my opinion the most interesting church. It is set in the heart of Sestiere of San Polo and glorifies the image of St Mary in the heavens. The most interesting feature of this church is the display of art works. Among these works of art is the "Assunta" Tatians which is an oil painting, seven metres tall. Also exhibited is the "Trittico dei Frari" by Giovanni Bellini as well as the sculptor of Antonio Casova which he built with his own hands.

The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

The altar and Titian "Assunta"

2. Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo

This beautiful church is located in the oldest Venetian Sestiere Cannaregio and is located right next to the old hospital, also named after St. John and Paul. It is somewhat of a Venetian Pantheon, because of the large number of doges that are buried in the church. The interior of the church is really fascinating, with every grave having its own decorations: statues, paintings, bas-reliefs, altars, wall paintings and much more. Lorenzo Lotto's "Elemosina di Sant'Antonio" and the famous "Verrocchio horseback" dedicated to Bartolomeo Colleoni are particularly noteworthy, with the horse standing on only three legs, which was the most innovative of its time.

The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

From right to left: the hospital, the church and the monument of Verrocchio on Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo.

3. Chiesa di San Zaccaria

This was an integral part of the oldest Venetian nunnery, in which the wealthy families kept their virginal daughters to protect them from the decadence of Venetian society. The monastery and the church were most likely founded in the 9th century. Due to secularization under the Napoleonic domination, the monastery was converted into a barracks, and today is the seat of the Carabinieri. The main attraction of the church is Giovanni Bellini's "Sacra Conversazione", dating from 1505, one of the most important examples of Renaissance art.

The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

The "Sacra Conversazione", also called "Pala di San Zaccaria", by Giovanni Bellini

4. Basilica di San Marco

The St. Mark's Basilica, which is situated in front of the square of the same name, is probably one of the most famous sights of the lagoon city because of its position. But the Basilica has much more to offer: through the Byzantine style of architecture and decoration, the church has an oriental and fascinating aura. The golden mosaics of the saints are also stunning. Both the exterior facade, which also reveals some Gothic elements, as well as the interior decoration tell a lot about Venice's political and religious past and the close connection to the Constantinople at the time.

The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

The golden mosaics inside the basilica

5. Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

This beautiful and completely white church, is one of the most important Baroque buildings in the whole of the city. It is located on the Grand Canal just before you find the Punta della Dogana in the Sestiere Dorsoduro and is immediately recognizable by its octagonal shape. The construction of the church took place during a lengthy and intense plague of the city at the request of the doges, who wanted to dedicate a church to the Madonna with a request for the end of the plague.

The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

La Salute, as it is called by the Venetians, at the southern end of the Grand Canal.

6. I Gesuiti

My absolute favorite! This church is not as famous as the previous examples, but it is all the more interesting. It is located in somewhat of a quieter part of Venice, just behind the Fondamenta Nuove, which is situated opposite the cemetery island. The interior of the baroque church is decorated with white-green marble, which gives the whole room a special ambience. One hidden treasure that you'll find inside is one of the last paintings by Titian before his death, "The Martyrdom of St. Laurentius", dating back to 1558, which is an outstanding work of art, especially because the light and shadows play off of the night scene. The beauty of this church is that, due to its secluded location, it is only rarely visited and times you are the only one inside, which makes it easy to enjoy the atmosphere and to listen to baroque music, which plays in the background.

The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

A detailed view of the alter.

7. Chiesa di San Sebastiano

You should not miss the chance to visit this church too, if you come to Venice. Its entire interior was decorated by the famous Renaissance artist Paolo Veronese. Just next to the church there was once a monastery, which is now used as the constituency of the University of the city, Ca 'Foscari.

The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

Verone's ceiling adornment, with the typical artistic technique of visual perspective

8. Chiesa dei Carmini

This interesting church is somewhat hidden behind the great Campo Santa Margherita and is part of the ancient beneficial brotherhood Scuola dei Carmini. The origin of the church dates as far back as the 13th century, but today it is particularly worthy of being seen because of the paintings which are preserved in it. Among the artists are some of the most important Venetian Renaissance painters, such as Tintoretto, Lorenzo Lotto, Cima da Conegliano and Palma il Giovane.

The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

Interior of the church

9. Chiesa di San Barnaba

The interior architecture of this church is not really that special, but it has still earned a place on this list because it was one of the filming locations of the third part of the film series about Indiana Jones the adventurer ("Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade") in the year 1989. "Indie" has to flee from the church (where an imaginary library is located in the film) and runs into Campo San Barnaba, where the church is immediately recognized.

The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

The Chiesa di San Barnaba and the square with the same name

10. Chiesa di San Rocco

Just behind the number 1 of this list, the Frari Church, is this wonderful building with a façade that is completely white and looks even more beautiful at nighttime than daytime. The brotherhood of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco decided to erect a church in honor of its name bearer next to its permanent constituency. The building of the Scuola Grande was almost entirely decorated by Tintoretto, and the altar of the church contains three enormous and impressive paintings by the Venetian painter. Both the Scuola Grande and the church are an absolute must-see!

The 10 Most Beautiful Venetian Churches

A panoramic view of the church's nave


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