Sparkling and grimed, disused and active, domed and campanili, much of the great attractions in Venice are its churches, scuole or guild houses and synagogues.
1. Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore
Founded in the early 10th century, this church was designed by the great Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. In this church, he imposed a classical faηade by designing two interlocking facades with repeating triangles, rectanges, and columns – a logical rhytym that are carefully and harmoniously proportioned. The interior of the church are whitewashed surfaces showing Paladio’s fondness on stark and majestic, unadorned but harmonious space. Two epic paintings by Tintoretto, The Fall of Manna and Morti, Chapel of the Dead can be seen near the main altar.
2. Basilica di San Marco
Once a remarkable place of worship, the basilica embodies a unique blend of architectural and decorative styles, dominated by the Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. It’s greatest treasure is the magnificent altarpiece known as the Pala d’Oro, a Gothic masterpiece encrusted with close to 2,000 precious gems and 255 enameled panels. For tours, you can call 041-522-52 05, admission is free.
3. Chiesa Santa Maria dei Miracoli
One of the most attractive religious buildings in Europe, it looks like an elaborate box containing the most refined of chocolates. The architect of this chiesa is Pietro Lombardo, a local artist who bejeweled it with marble, bas-reliefs and statues. The timber ceiling is also eye-catching. In 1470’s a series of miracles were reported which led to pilgrims for the image of the Virgin Mary. The chiesa’s admission fee is 2.50 euros.
4. Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Finished in 1443, the Frari is a tower of elegance in brick, eschews almost completely the twisting face like external decoration typical of French and German Gothic. The frari was built by Franciscans and has long been considered something of a memorial to the ancient glories of Venice. Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna and Child is displayed in the sacristy. For tours, you can call 041-522-2637, admission is 2.50 euros.
5. Cattedrale di San Pietro di Castello
This church is the Venice cathedral from 1451 – 1807 which sits in easy somnolence on the far-removed island of San Pietro. Legend says that the strange Trono di San Pietro was used by the Apostle Peter in Antioch and that the Holy Grail was hidden in it. However, the legend is unlikely because the seatback of the throne is actually made up of Muslim tombstone, postdating the Apostles’s death by quite a number of centuries.
6. Chiesa di San Martino
This church is named after St. Martin of Tours, Venice pride being the first christian saint to die of a natural death and not a martyr. The main attraction of Chiesa di San Martino is the ceiling fresco which depicts the Gloria di San Martino. For tours you can call 041-523-04 87, admission is free.
To avoid embarrassments and disappointments, dress appropriately when visiting churches and other sacred buildings.