Religious Edifices Walking Tour (Self Guided), Venice

A country like Italy, especially a city like Venice, has a lot of sacred sites. It would be a pity not to take a look at some of the wonderful buildings built by humans in the name of the Lord. Glorious artists, architects and their disciples have given their lives and talent for our pleasure for centuries. Follow this self guided walk to visit some of the most significant religious edifices in Venice.

Getting to Sight #1. The first tour stop (Basilica di San Marco) is on San Marco Square or can be reached by: Alilaguna Water Taxi: Blue (B), Rosa (R); Water Bus: 1, 2, 4.1, 10, 7, 4.2, 5.2, 2, 20 + N (Night line).
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Religious Edifices Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Religious Edifices Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Venice (See other walking tours in Venice)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: nicole
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Basilica di San Marco
  • Chiesa di San Moisè
  • Chiesa Cattolica Parrocchiale S.Stefano Protomartire
  • Istituto Diocesano per il Sostentamento del Clero
  • Chiesa San Bartolomeo
  • San Salvador Church
  • Padri Redentoristi
  • Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli
  • Scuola Grande di San Marco
  • Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo
  • Chiesa di Santa Maria Formosa
  • Chiesa di San Zaccaria
Basilica di San Marco

1) Basilica di San Marco (must see)

By far the main draw for tourists visiting Venice, Basilica di San Marco was built in 832 AD to house the remains of the city’s patron St Mark. According to a legend, two Venetian merchants smuggled the holy man’s remains from its shrine in Alexandria, Egypt in the barrels of pork meat which they knew the Muslim guards would never touch. This proved to be a stroke of genius as it prevented the precious relic from being desecrated by the Muslim rulers of Egypt. St Mark himself is said to have been greeted by an angel who appeared to him on the night he took shelter in the lagoon, with the words “Peace be with you Mark, my Evangelist. Here shall your body rest”. Credible or not, but over the years this legend has inspired many works of art.

Two more centuries later, a new sumptuous church was built on the foundations of an earlier one and was consecrated when St Mark’s body was interred here beneath the high altar. This new basilica was modeled after the celebrated Church of the Apostles in Constantinople, and as such, for all intents and purposes, was a Byzantine church. To enhance its opulence, the structure was subsequently clothed in marble and mosaics depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as the lives of Christ, Virgin Mary and St Mark himself.

The best time to visit the basilica is around midday when all the golden mosaics adorning the vaults, walls and cupolas are illuminated and are most spectacular. Entry to the basilica is free but you can pay a small fee just to skip the line and book a time slot.

Inside, there are also a number of things you can see for a separate fee, such as the Golden Altar, the Museum, the Treasury, and the Crypt. It is also definitely worth paying to go up to the first level just to gaze at the interior and the square outside from an elevated point, or you might as well want to come on a night tour when the basilica is closed to the public and have pretty much the entire place to yourself.

Why You Should Visit:
Exceptionally beautiful blend of Byzantine and Western art!
The grandiosity of the mosaics and the wealth of the 'treasure room' will make you realize how powerful Venice was in its golden days.

The lights are on only for limited times during the day (11:30-12:30) so make sure you time your visit so you can see/appreciate the beauty of the mosaics.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5pm; Sun: 2-4pm (until 5pm during the summer months)
Chiesa di San Moisè

2) Chiesa di San Moisè

The Chiesa di San Moisè (or San Moisè Profeta) is a Baroque style, Roman Catholic church in Venice. Initially built in the 8th century, it is dedicated to Moses since like the Byzantines, the Venetians often considered Old Testament prophets as canonized saints. It also honors Moisè Venier, the aristocrat who funded the reconstruction during the 9th century.

The elaborate Baroque facade, dating from 1668, is profusely decorated with sculptures, some of which are attributed to German artist Heinrich Meyring. The architectural design is attributed to Alessandro Tremignon, with patronage by Vincenzo Fini, whose bust is found over the entry door. Statues in public spaces were forbidden in Venice, thus by placing his bust on the facade of a church, he could circumvent this ordinance and display his wealth and his recent addition to the Libro d'Oro or Venetian aristocracy.

The interior is dominated by Meyring's huge and mannerist sculptural set-piece and altarpiece, depiction Moses at Mount Sinai receiving the Tablets, created by Tremignon and Meyring. Behind it is a canvas painted by Michelangelo Morlaiter. It also has a Washing of the Feet by Tintoretto, and a Last Supper by Palma il Giovane. The altarpiece of the Deposition (1636) was painted by Niccolò Roccatagliata in collaboration with Sebastiano.

This beautiful church is a popular wedding spot for both locals and tourists.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9:30am-12:30pm / 3:30-7pm; Sun: 9:30-11am / 2:30-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chiesa Cattolica Parrocchiale S.Stefano Protomartire

3) Chiesa Cattolica Parrocchiale S.Stefano Protomartire

This is one of the largest churches in Venice and is situated in the northern part of the city. The edifice was built in the 13th century, rebuilt in the 14th and redecorated partially in the 15th. Many years of construction, reconstruction and redecoration show us today a magnificent, wonderful architectural gem with painting and design to match. The church is the resting place for a few famous persons, such as: Francesco Morosini, Doge Andrea Contarini and others.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Istituto Diocesano per il Sostentamento del Clero

4) Istituto Diocesano per il Sostentamento del Clero

This Institute was erected to support the church system in Venice. It used to be a Catholic school and a residence for those who ran the school. The complex contains an older and a more recent part. The adjoining parts were added later, as the need for space became more urgent. The building was first mentioned between 1347 and 1348.
Chiesa San Bartolomeo

5) Chiesa San Bartolomeo

San Bartolomeo (Saint Bartholomew) is a church in Venice. It is near the Rialto Bridge in the neighborhood of San Marco. The church was supposedly founded in 830, and was originally dedicated to Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki. It was renovated in 1170, and became the church of the German community in Venice, whose commercial headquarters were nearby at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi.

The church was rebuilt again in the 18th century. The bell tower was built in 1747-1754 based on designs of Giovanni Scalfarotto. The interior has two sculptures by the venetian sculptor of German origin Enrico Merengo (Heinrich Meyring). The chancel has a high altar by Meyring with three canvases by Palma the Younger, and a fresco on the ceiling by Michelangelo Morlaiter. On the left upper nave is a Miracle of the bronze serpents, also by Palma the Younger, while the left aisle houses a St. Matthew by Leonardo Corona and a Dormition by Pietro Muttoni.
Sight description based on wikipedia
San Salvador Church

6) San Salvador Church

The Chiesa di San Salvatore (of the Holy Savior) is a church in Venice. Known in Venetian as San Salvador, is located on the Campo San Salvador, along the Merceria, the main shopping street of Venice.

The church was first consecrated in 1177 by Pope Alexander III shortly after his reconciliation with Emperor Frederick Barbarossa at nearby San Marco. The present church, however, was begun in around 1508 by Giorgio Spavento and continued after his death the following year by Tullio Lombardo, Vincenzo Scamozzi and possibly Jacopo Sansovino. They built a large hall church, formed from three Greek crosses placed end to end. Each has a dome with a lantern to let light into the cavernous interior. The facade was added in 1663 by Giuseppe Sardi.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Padri Redentoristi

7) Padri Redentoristi

This is a Roman Catholic church in Venice, built more than 400 years ago. The church repeats the typical Vatican style in its interiors. It is very colorful, sumptuous and richly decorated. Some of the icons were brought here later, and their style is more realistic.
Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli

8) Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli

Santa Maria dei Miracoli is a church in the sestiere of Cannaregio, in Venice. Also known as the "marble church", it is one of the best examples of the early Venetian Renaissance including colored marble, a false colonnade on the exterior walls (pilasters), and a semicircular pediment. The main altar is reached by a series of steps. The circular facade windows recall Donato Bramante's churches in Milan.

Built between 1481 and 1489 by Pietro Lombardo to house a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary. The plans for the church were expanded in 1484 to include the construction of a new convent for nuns of St. Clare to the east. The convent was connected to the gallery of the church by an enclosed walkway that was later destroyed. The interior is enclosed by a wide barrel vault, with a single nave.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Scuola Grande di San Marco

9) Scuola Grande di San Marco

The Scuola Grande di San Marco is a building in Venice. It originally was the home to one of the six major sodalities or Scuole Grandi of Venice. It faces the Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, one of the largest squares in the city. The edifice was built by the Confraternity of San Marco in 1260 to act as its seat. In 1485, however, it was destroyed by a large fire, and rebuilt in the following twenty years under a new design by Pietro Lombardo, with a fund established by the members.

The facade, a masterwork with delicately decorated niches and pilasters, and with white or polychrome marble statues, was later completed by Mauro Codussi. While decorated with the polished marble elements of Renaissance classicism, the proliferation of arches and niches adds a retrogressive Byzantine flavor, an architectural feature of many conservative Venetian styles.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo

10) Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo

The Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo, known in the Venetian dialect as San Zanipolo, is one of the largest churches in Venice, having the status of a minor basilica. After the 15th century, the funeral services of all of Venice's doges were held here, and twenty-five doges are buried in the church.

A huge brick edifice built in the Italian Gothic style, it is the principal Dominican church of Venice, and as such was built for preaching to large congregations. It is dedicated to John and Paul – not the Biblical Apostles of the same names, but two obscure martyrs of the Early Christian church in Rome, whose names were recorded in the 3rd century but whose legend is of a later date. The interior contains many funerary monuments and paintings, as well as the Madonna della Pace, a miraculous Byzantine statue situated in its own chapel in the south aisle, and a foot of St Catherine of Siena, the church's chief relic.

Why You Should Visit:
Less famous than many of the churches that charge an admission fee, it still features a large amount of early Renaissance work in a well-maintained space.
You can find ceilings executed by Veronese and other Italian masters, work by Giovanni Bellini, beautiful altars, marble artworks, etc.
Also a wonderful, quiet square with an outstanding pastry shop just to the right of the church when you are looking at it.

Be sure to ask the attendant if you can borrow the pictorial guide book to help you navigate as you walk around.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm; Sun: 12-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chiesa di Santa Maria Formosa

11) Chiesa di Santa Maria Formosa

Chiesa di Santa Maria Formosa is one of the biggest churches in Venice. It was built as the result of a 7th-century bishop’s vision of the voluptuous, Formosa, Virgin Mary’s request that it should be built where "a white cloud came to rest". The church is surrounded by a large square of the same name where locals and visitors enjoy the lovely Venetian days of summer. The plan is on the Latin cross, with a nave and two aisles. The two façades were commissioned in 1542, the Renaissance-style one facing the channel, and 1604, the Baroque one facing the nearby square. The artworks in the interior include the St. Barbara polyptych by Palma the Elder, one of his most celebrated works. The Conception Chapel houses a triptych of Madonna of Misericordia by Bartolomeo Vivarini (1473), while in the Oratory is the Madonna with Child and St. Dominic by Giambattista Tiepolo (18th century). There is also a Last Supper by Leandro Bassano. The dome of the church was rebuilt in after falling during an earthquake in 1688.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Chiesa di San Zaccaria

12) Chiesa di San Zaccaria

San Zaccaria is a church in Venice, dedicated to St. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, whose body it supposedly contains. It is a large edifice, located in the quiet Campo San Zaccaria, just off the waterfront to the southeast of St. Mark's Basilica. The present church was built in a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles between 1458 and 1515. Antonio Gambello was the original architect who started the building in the Gothic style, but the upper part of the facade and the upper parts of the interior were completed by Mauro Codussi in early Renaissance style.

The interior of the church has an apse surrounded by an ambulatory lit by tall Gothic windows, a typical feature of Northern European church architecture which is unique in Venice. The church houses one of the most famous work by Giovanni Bellini, the San Zaccaria Altarpiece. The walls of the aisles are entirely covered with paintings by other artists including Tintoretto, Angelo Trevisani, Giuseppe Salviati, Antonio Balestra, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Palma the Elder, and Van Dyck. The artist Alessandro Vittoria is buried in the church, his tomb marked by a self-portrait bust.

Why You Should Visit:
Unlike many of the popular name-churches that tourists flock to, this church is just that: a place of worship.
It retains its natural, quiet reverence, and helps restore a little equilibrium from the intensity of San Marcos.

A small fee will let you visit old chapels and the flooded 9th-century crypt (helpful to bring footwear that is removable).

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-12pm / 4-6pm; Sun: 4-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

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