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Churches in Santa Croce, Venezia

San Giacomo dellOrio


1225 History Tradition has the church founded in the 9th or 10th Century, but the first documented reference dates it to 1089. The church is dedicated to St James the Greater, the apostle. The dell'Orio part is said by some to be a corruption of del lauro (of the bay tree) and to refer to a tree said to have been growing on the site when the church was founded. Competing theories plump for wolves, the rio, a swamp ( luprio) or the Orio family. The church was rebuilt in 1225, using funds provided by the Badoer and Da Mula familes. Further rebuilding following an earthquake in 1345 saw the addition of the transept and wooden ship's keel roof. More rebuilding took place at the beginning of the 16th Century. Further restoration around 1906. The church The main entrance faces the canal to the North into Campiello del Piovan ( right) with its back and apses into Campo San Giacomo ( below right). The statue of St James over the door dates from the 17th Century. The interior A Latin cross plan with granite columns separating the nave from the side aisles each topped with very old, or ancient, capitals. The thick columns appear even chunkier due to the raising of the floor resulting in them losing height over the centuries. 14th Century ship's-keel roof. The gem-like verde antico column said to have been sacked from Byzantium in 1204, and admired by Ruskin (see below) was described by Gabriele d'Annunzio as 'the fossilized compression of an immense verdant forest'. Art highlights Many by Palma il Giovane, some by Lorenzo Lotto, one by Veronese and frescoes by Jacopo Guarana in the chapel to the right of the high altar. Lotto's Madonna and four saints was the last thing he painted in Venice before leaving in a huff. St John the Baptist preaching by Francesco Bassano, in the new sacristy, contains portraits of Bassano's family and of Titian, on the far left wearing a red hat. Campanile 44m (143 ft) manual bells The original was demolished in 1220 because it was unsafe. The current tower dates from the 1225 rebuilding. It was seriously damaged by the earthquake of 1347 and was restored in 1360. Later work too on foundations, well and belfry. A visit Like most churches in this sestiere this one has the ancient thing going on, with old columns and capitals. It has some surprising spaces, like the opened-out right side, some odd little chapels, and two sacristies. Also surprising is the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, a sudden burst of 17th Century decorative overkill and balustrades and a painted dome. One sacristy is full of Palma il Giovanes -the church has 12 paintings by the prolific little... There's also a Lotto altarpiece, The Madonna and Four Saints, though, and a Veneziano painted crucifix. There's a small, square and easily-missed Veronese in a

dingy little side chapel. But the weirdest painting here, and maybe in the whole of Venice, is the deceptively innocently-named Miracle of the Virgin painted by Gaetano Zompini in the 18th Century. (He also painted the dome fresco in the nearby San Nicol da Tolentino below, but was best known for his engravings of hawkers.) What it actually shows is a chap who has run up and attacked Mary's funeral procession, only to find himself miraculously thrown to the ground with his hands ripped off and still attached to the coffin. This painting is ignored by most guidebooks but my Time Out guide tells me that this painting also features in David Hewson's novel Lucifer's Shadow, as does another bizarre painting in the church of San Cassiano. Ruskin said A most interesting church, of the early thirteenth century, but grievously restored. Its capitals have been already noticed as characteristic of the earliest Gothic; and it is said to contain four works of Paul Veronese, but I have not examined them. The pulpit is admired by the Italians, but is utterly worthless. The verde-antique pillar in the south transept is a very noble example of the "Jewel Shaft." Opening Monday Sundays: A to Saturday: Chorus 10.00 to times 5.00 closed Church

Vaporetto: San Stae or Riva di Biasio

San Nicol da Tolentino


Vincenzo Scamozzi 1590-1671 History A small oratory dedicated to St Nicholas of Tolentino was built on this site in 1528 for the use of San Gaetano da Thiene and his followers, the Theatines, who came to Venice following the Sack of Rome. The present church was commissioned from Vincenzo Scamozzi, who was awarded a salary of 50 ducats a year, and work began on the 7th of June 1590. The foundation stone was laid on the 7th of November 1591. In early 1595 the fathers broke their contract with Scamozzi accusing him of using expensive and unsuitable materials. Collapsing pilasters were mentioned. The architect accused the fathers of breaking their contract. The squabble was resolved and the church was consecrated on 20th October 1602, although the interior construction and decoration was not finished until 1671. The great classical porch (see left) was added to the unfinished faade in 1706-14 by Andrea Tirali using money bequeathed by Alvise da Mosto at his death in 1701 to pay for a family memorial. In 1780 the fathers gave all their silverware to a chap called Romano who claimed to have perfected a new method for cleaning silver. They never saw it, or him, again. The church was suppressed in 1810, closing on the 12th of May, but reopened for worship on the 25th of October the same year to replace the closed parish church of Santa Croce, which was later demolished to make way for the garden that eventually became the Giardino Papadopoli, up by Piazzale Roma. The convent is now used by Venice University's Institute of Architecture (see cloister photo below) having been modernised in 1961-63 by Daniele Calabi, with an entrance by Carlo Scarpa added in 1984. The interior Latin-cross shaped featuring an aisleless nave with six chapels and a dome at the crossing. The dome fresco (and surrounding trompe l'oeil detailing) is by Gaetano Zompini. The high altar was built by Baldassare Longhena in 1661. To the left the very baroque and Bernini-esque monument to Patriarch Francesco Morosini (not to be confused with the doge of the same name) by Filippo Parodi. Most of the interior was recently restored. Art highlights Much from the 17th Century - Palma il Giovane is well represented. St Jerome Succoured by an Angel painted by German artist Johann Liss in 1628, two years before he died of the plague at the age of 33. A visit Having passed the place so often I was (despite past experience) not expecting the interior to be such a contrast to the hulking great classical exterior, so was not expecting the quiet baroque stucco riot inside. Recently having been restored the decoration is very, but not over. The stucco and frescoes do not make you feel the breathlessness that this style often can. There's some very nice art in here from the 16th and 17th Centuries, some by people I've never heard of. OK so there are too many by Palma il Giovane, just like there are far too many putti in his Annunciation, a subject that usually features very few of the little blighters. There are a couple of

paintings by Sante Peranda I liked especially, one being of S. Gaetano. The Charity of Saint Lawrence (see below left) by Bernardo Strozzi is striking (and not just because it seems to depict the saint being sold some nice lamps by an old geezer) and full of movement. And I have to mention the tomb of Francesco Morosini, a huge and frantic piece of work on the left side of the chancel, which has a carved curtain being pulled back by angels to reveal the reclining patriarch who manages to be lounging, surprised, and praying simultaneously. Campanile 47m (153ft) electromechanical bells Early 18th Century. Octagonal drum over the belfry with a parapet and a lead-covered onion dome. Ruskin said One of the basest and coldest works of the late Renaissance. Opening times Monday to Saturday: 8.30-12.00 and 4.30 to 6.30 Sunday: 4.30 to 6.30 Vaporetto: Piazzale Roma

Dominico Margutti 18th Century History Dedicated to San Simeon Profeta (St Simon the Apostle) this church is known as San Simeon Grande to distinguish it from the larger church of San Simeon Piccolo nearby. (Although some say that the grande and piccolo refer to the size of the parishes.) The church was founded in 967, rebuilt in the 12th-13th Centuries and then again in the early 18th Century by Dominico Margutti, with interior renovation 17501755. This latter work was said to have been ordered by the city's sanitation department who were worried about the plague victims buried under the floor following the 1630 epidemic and so ordered the floor to be relaid. Restoration work in the Nineteenth Century revealed that the old floor was still intact under the new. On 18th March 1795 a part of the ceiling fell on, and killed, noblewoman Lucrezia Cappello while she prayed. It is not unusual amongst Venetian churches in having a Greek temple faade, this one dating from 1757 and attributed to Giorgio Massari. It was further renovated in 1861. Interior Basilica plan with the aisle divided from the nave by rows of columns, with Byzantine capitals, probably dating from the 13th Century, and round arches. Statues of the twelve apostles over the columns in the nave are early 17th Century by Francesco Terilli. Art highlights The presentation in the Temple, with Donors by Palma il Giovane and, in the sacristy, The Holy Trinity attributed to Giovanni Mansueti, a follower of Bellini. Also a Last Supper by Tintoretto, badly restored in 1935. A visit Has pleasingly rough-looking original columns, an asymmetric layout - the righthand aisle is much wider than the left - and a Tintoretto Last Supper that looks unfinished, as well as like many hands were involved. The chapel to the right of the chancel has some nice 18th C? frescoing on the ceiling that's considerably corroded lower down. A large, supposedly impressive, reclining statue of the saint himself who Ruskin said had a 'face full of quietness and majesty, though very ghastly' could not be found by me. Campanile 23m (75ft) manual bells 18th Century. De Barbari's map of 1500 shows a bigger and taller tower. Ruskin said Very important, though small, possessing the precious statue of St. Simeon. The rare early Gothic capitals of the nave are only interesting to the architect; but in the little passage by the side of the church, leading out of the Campo, there is a curious Gothic monument built into the wall, very beautiful in the placing of the angels in the spandrils, and rich in the vine-leaf moulding above. Opening times Vaporetto Ferrovia Mon-Sat 9.00-12.00, 5-6.30

San Simeon Grande

Giovanni Antonio Scalfarotto, 1718-1738 Most unpopular dome ever?

San Simeon Piccolo

History Tradition says the church was founded in the 9th Century, but the first documented reference is to the church's consecration in 1271. This original church was demolished in 1718 and rebuilt by Giovanni Scalfarotto who was inspired by the dome of the Pantheon in Rome, it is said. Three floors were found, one on top of the other, when the old church was demolished. The rebuilding is said to have been paid for by money from a lottery run by the priest, called Manera. Scalfarotto (who had Piranesi as an apprentice for a while) had his name is carved into the architrave of the faade. This church was consecrated in 1738. This last rebuilding enlarged the church, it is said, so as to make it bigger than the nearby San Simeon Grande, but the names of both churches have stuck. Although some say that the grande and piccolo refer to the size of the parishes. The church The porch is in the form of a Greek temple. One of the four columns was replaced following the destruction of the original by enemy bombs on the night of February 26th-27th 1918. The triangular pediment contains a relief showing The Martyrdom of St Simon and St Jude , the church's name saints, by Francesco Penso. The statue on the lantern on the dome is of The Redeemer by Michele Fanolli Interior Supposedly inspired by the Salute - circular aisleless nave, with four altars, completely covered by the dome. Plain and Palladian. There are reports of an unusual octagonal crypt with four frescoed corridors of tombs radiating out, the frescoes depicting images of death and the day of judgement. Art Minor 18th Century. Campanile 3m (10ft) above roof of church, manual bells Dating from the Scalfarotto rebuilding and visible from the courtyard behind. Ruskin said One of the ugliest churches in Venice or elsewhere. Its black dome, like an unusual species of gasometer, is the admiration of modern Italian architects. Lorenzetti said ...a high ungraceful copper-covered dome, of a shape disproportionate to the size of the building supporting it. Robert Coover (in Pinocchio in Venice) said ...misshapen little San Simeon Piccolo with its outsized portico and squeezed dome...the popping green bubble on San Simeon the Dwarf rising through the fog with the erotic suggestion of a Venetian double entendre.

Napoleon said I have seen churches without domes before, but Ive never, until now, seen a dome without a church. The church in art Canalettos The Grand Canal with San Simeon Piccolo (below right) in Londons National Gallery shows the church with the black dome that Ruskin so hated. It does look better in the green. The church had only just been completed when the view was painted - a builders' hut is visible by the steps. An earlier print from a Canaletto view shows the steps unfinished. Opening Vaporetto Ferrovia Scaffold watch Due to the commencement of long-needed renovation work the portico has been covered in scaffolding since the middle of 2007, at least, and this scaffolding has itself been covered with a sequence of huge advertising hoardings. (In late 2008 an advert depicting a naked woman hiding behind her large handbag caused a bit of a fuss.) A sad state of affairs, as this is the first church most people see upon arriving in Venice as it's directly opposite the railway station. Before the coming of the scaffolding it looked like this (above right). times

Giovanni Grassi, Domenico Rossi 1678-1709 A bit Baroque, a bit Palladian. The church Said to have been founded in 966 and dedicated to San Eustachio (St Eustace, the commander of Trajan's army, who is said to have seen the crucifix between the antlers of a deer whilst hunting). He becomes San Stae in Venetian dialect. The first written reference dates from 1290. The original church, which was side-on to the canal, was demolished in 1678 and this one was built by Giovanni Grassi, who realigned it to face the Grand Canal. The faade of 1709 is by Domenico Rossi, whose design was the winner amongst 12 designs submitted in competition. It was paid for by a legacy in the will of Doge Alvise Mecenigo and features the work of seven sculptors, the statues being of various virtues, saints and angels. The two reliefs are The lion lowers its head before St Eustace and The Emperor Hadrian has Eustace and his relatives thrown in a red-hot bronze ox. The church was restored recently by the Swiss Pro-Venezia Committee. Interior Pleasing and very light - an aisleless nave with six side altars. Tomb slab of Doge Alvise Mocenigo (in the middle of the pavement) who had paid for Rossi's faade. (He's also the man most responsible for the appearance of the Palazzo Mocenigo nearby, which now houses the Museum of Costume.) The Latin inscription on his tomb reads 'Fame and vanity are here buried together with the body'. The chapel first on the left is dedicated to the Foscarini family and includes the tomb of Antonio Foscarini, reinterred here with honours after being exonerated of the charge of treason for which he was executed in 1622. Art highlights Works by Sebastiano Ricci, Giambattista Piazzetta and Giambattista Tiepolo, and some less well-known contemporaries. A visit (September 2010) As it's a between year, I visit to see what this church looks like without bits of biennale in it. And what a difference! It's very light inside, due to the Palladioinspired semi-circular windows, a feature of the Redentore. The lack of art accretions also means that Doge Alvise Mocenigo's spooky bone-decorated tomb slab is visible in the centre of the floor of the nave. It's an aisleless nave with three side chapels either side. They and the high altar are all marble and matching. The church is a bit of a who's who of 18th Century Venetian painters and the best are either side of the high altar. These include The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew by Tiepolo, which is pretty famous, not least for being a highlight of the Glory of Venice exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 1994. Also Saint James Led to Martyrdom by Piazetta. The paintings in the sacristy have a tendency towards 'studio of' but there's also an odd cornice from the earlier church depicting past parish priests, with a fair few dark blanks awaiting portraits still. So, the surprise of the day. Without some odd clanking art thing going on this church is one calm, light and unheavy joy, with some good paintings which also aren't dark.

San Stae

Ruskin Ridiculous

said

Campanile 34m (111ft) no bells Rebuilt end of 17th Century with an entrance surround of 1702 featuring a 13th Century bust of an angel (see left). Said to be dangerously unstable, despite the lower portion being lived in. Local colour The cute baroque building to the left of the church is the former Scuola dei Battiloro e Tiraoro, the guild of drawers and beaters of gold, rebuilt in 1711. The church in art There's a View of the Grand Canal at San Stae by Bellotto. Church of St. Stae, Venice by John Singer Sargent (see below) is an oil painting. Two watercolours by him exist too. The church in This is the church that the funeral leaves from at the end of Dont Look Now. Opening Often Monday 10.00 Sundays: A Vaporetto: San Stae Local colour According to a tradition dating from the 16th Century the carving of the head of John the Baptist mentioned above (and pictured right) is said to be a representation of Biagio Cargnio, a butcher who was beheaded and quartered as punishment for putting the meat of murdered children into his sausages and stews. His quartered body parts were put on display on the Ponte dei Squartai (the Bridge of the Quartered Men) on the Rio del Tolentini. His house and shop stood in the nearby fondamenta named after him, Riva di Biasio, but both were razed to the ground. The carving could be found smeared with mud well into the last Century, this being evidence of Venetians' long and unforgiving memories. Butcher Biagio also features as a character in Michelle Lovric's novel for children The Undrowned Child. Also, on November 21, 1500 a whole family was murdered by a Franciscan priest who officiated at San Zan Degola. He was executed in the Piazza San Marco on December 19th, having first had his right hand cut off in front of the door of family he'd robbed and murdered. Campanile 20m (65ft) manual bells The map of 1635 (detail right) shows a taller detached tower with a tall spire which used for to 1.00 exhibitions to Chorus and Saturday: to film times concerts . 5.00 5.00 Church

was demolished in the early 18th Century and replaced by the current short tower, squeezed between the church and adjacent house. Opening times Monday to Saturday: 10.00 - 12.00 Vaporetto: San Stae or Riva di Biasio

Santa Maria Maggiore


Tullio Lombardo 1523

History A wooden convent and church was built 1497-1504, by Franciscans from Sant'Agnese, on recently-reclaimed ground, given by the republic. A miracle-working icon lead to the church being named Santa Maria dell'Assunta. Rebuilding, at the behest of Alvise Malipiero, probably by Tullio Lombardo, began in 1503 with the convent habitable by 1505, and the church open by 1523. The design of the church was said to have been based on that of its namesake in Rome. Malipiero's patronage continued until his death in 1557 and his burial in the family tomb here. Suppressed in 1805, with the nuns moving to Santa Croce, after which the convent was used as a barracks. The grounds became the Campo di Marte where Austrian officers exercised their horses, and civilians were allowed to ride and walk too. There was a fire in the convent in 1817 and demolition followed in 1900. The church was used as a warehouse for a tobacco factory. The prison was built in the 1920s, with prisoners transferred from the prison at San Marco which was still in use until this time. This church is crumbling away picturesquely as a seemingly forgotten corner of the prison named after it, but it was restored 1961-65. Campanile 33m (107ft) no bells Late Gothic and similar to that of San Barnaba, with its sugar-loaf spire and pinnacles. Lost Art All eight altars and art long since removed and/or lost. The paintings included a Giovanni Bellini. Titians John the Baptist (see right) and The Assumption of the Virgin by Veronese, the latter from the high altar and benefiting from a cleaning, are now in the Accademia. As is the recently restored Virgin and Child with Saints and members of the Marcello Family, probably by Battista del Moro. Opening times Vaporetto: Piazzale Roma

Santa Maria Mater Domini


1502-1540 Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. History Tradition says that the church was founded c. 960 and built by the Zane and Cappello families. Originally dedicated to Saint Christina, with the rededication documented as taking place in 1128. Rebuilt after demolition in 1503, probably to a design by Mauro Codussi. (Giovanni Buora's name is also mentioned sometimes). Completed 1512-24, perhaps by Jacopo Sansovino, who is perhaps responsible for the faade (but Scarpagnino's name is also mentioned sometimes) and consecrated in 1540. Restored by Venice in Peril in the 1980s. This mostly consisted of work on the roof, but also restoration work on two paintings - the Catena mentioned below and Francesco Bissolo's Transfiguration. The church Istrian stone faade not the easiest to appreciate, being tucked into a narrow calle off of the impressive campo named after the church. 14th Century Byzantine-style half figure of the Virgin over the doorway. Interior A Greek cross, nave and two aisles, said to combine the plans of San Giocometto and San Giovanni Elemosinario. Contains the tomb of Antonio Maria Zanetti, the librarian of the Marciana Library and the author of a 1771 catalogue of Venetian paintings. A visit Pleasingly plain and uncongested by art, with yellowy-buff coloured walls and grey stonework with some white marble and those odd red curtain-material-covered columns. What art there is is pretty fine, including an early and therefore less dark Tintoretto, The Invention of the Cross (c.1561). Also the serene The Vision of Saint Christina (1520) by Catena, a mystery-shrouded pupil of Giovanni Bellini and friend of Giorgione, who seems to have been a spice merchant who painted part-time. Few of his works remain, even in Venice. This is one of his best and was painted for the Scuola di Santa Christina. In the painting (see below left) the Saint looks up at the Risen Christ as angels support the millstone which was tied to her neck before she (and it) was thrown into Lake Bolsena. Local colour In April 1488 the porch of Santa Maria Mater Domini was sealed off with boards 'after the twenty-third hour' to 'stop sodomites using it as a meeting place'. The Rialto area seemed to be a centre of such activity - San Cassiano's entrance was also ordered to be chained shut. Pastry shops were said to be dangerous places for impressionable youth too, at that time. Lost art A precious silver altarpiece looted from Constantinople was lost in 1797.

Campanile Rebuilt

33m 1503

(107ft) and

manual renovated

bells 1740-43

Ruskin said It contains two important pictures: one over the second altar on the right, "St. Christina," by Vincenzo Catena, a very lovely example of the Venetian religious school; and over the north transept door, the "Finding of the Cross," by Tintoret, a carefully painted and attractive picture, but by no means a good specimen of the master... There is no wonder, no rapture, no entire devotion in any of the figures. There are only interested and pleased in a mild way; and the kneeling woman who hands the nails to a man stooping forward to receive them on the right hand, does so with the air of a person saying, "You had better take care of them; they may be wanted another time." ... If Tintoret had always painted in this way, he would have sunk into a mere mechanist. It is, however, a genuine and tolerably well preserved specimen, and its female figures are exceedingly graceful; that of St. Helena very queenly, though by no means agreeable in feature. Among the male portraits on the left there is one different from the usual types which occur either in Venetian paintings or Venetian populace; it is carefully painted, and more like a Scotch Presbyterian minister than a Greek. The background is chiefly composed or architecture, white , remarkably noticed as one of the unfortunate results of the Renaissance teaching at this period. Had Tintoret backed his Empress Helena with Byzantine architecture, the picture might have been one of the most gorgeous he ever painted. Opening Monday Vaporetto San Stae to Saturday: times 10.00-12.00

Sant'Andrea della Zirada


15th/17th Centuries
History Called della Zirada from the Venetian word for bend, as the church stands at the bend formed by two canals. Another theory has it that it's named for being the turning point for regattas. Traditionally said to have been founded in 1329 as the oratory of a hospice for poor women, founded by four Venetian noblewomen, Elisabetta Soranzo, Marianna Malipiero, Elisabetta Gradenigo and Francesca Cornaro (Corraro?) The convent and church were rebuilt in 1475 and restored in the 17th Century, acquiring a lavish Baroque interior with stucco decoration. Closed by Napoleon with the convent buildings demolished. The church is now the studio of sculptor Gianni Aric. The church The Venetian Gothic faade is all that survives from the 1475 rebuilding. Has a portal of Istrian stone with two 14th Century bas-reliefs (see below right): a Dead Christ and The Calling of Peter and Andrew with details that excite Venetian boat buffs. Interior There's a barco (nun's gallery) over the door from the 15th Century, supported by columns left over from the 14th Century church. The rich decoration on the barco was added in the 17th Century. The baroque altar of 1679 is by Juste Le Court. Four side altars with 18th Century marble statues. Jan Morris says that there is a plaque in honour of the Guild of Refuse Collectors which was mounted above the church door here (presumably inside) during the days of the republic. Art/Lost art A guidebook from the early 1970s mentions a Dead Christ between St. Charles Borromeo and Angels by Domenico Tintoretto, as well as St. Augustine with Two Angels by Paris Bordone, which it describes as 'humdrum'. It also mentions a St. Jerome Penitent (see below) by Paolo Veronese 'which must once have been very good' and so it is again, looking very fine now in the Accademia. Campanile 43m (140 ft) manual bell action Built in 1475, acquiring its present appearance (an octagonal drum and onion dome) during the 17th Century restoration.

From Virgins of Venice In 1596, at the convent of Sant' Andrea de Zirada the campanile was sealed up after accusations that the nuns had climbed to the top of the bell tower and flaunted themselves before the neighbourhood. Opening times

The church is now the studio of sculptor Gianni Aric. Vaporetto Piazzale Roma

Santissimo Nome di Ges


Giannantonio Selva/Antonio Diedo 1815-34 History Small neoclassical church begun by Giovanni Antonio Selva, the architect also responsible for La Fenice and the (equally neo-classical) church of San Maurizio. Work began in 1815, when the demolition of old ecclesiastical buildings was much more common than the building of new ones. The church was completed strictly to the architect's plans, after his death in 1819, by Antonia Diedo. An adjoining convent was built in 1846. The remains of San Geminiano were transferred here from his name church which had then just been demolished. The church is now tucked into the corner between the Autorimessa multi-storey car park and the flyover to Piazzale Roma. Interior Large ionic columns between barrel-vaulted nave and apse, an illuminated dome with a painted frieze by Borsato and sculptural niches. The tabernacle over the high altar is also by Diedo. A visit It's very small and neo-classically clean, with an unusual barrel-vaulted chancel which is only the width of the body of the church. This is divided from the main - flatroofed - body by two very chunky Ionic columns. There are no paintings but two side altars feature purple curtains where the church's two paintings by Quarena (currently in restauro) should've been. Ruskin Of Opening Vaporetto Piazzale Roma said importance. times

no