I created this site in 2007 because there wasn't a site like
it, or indeed a comprehensive book of Venice's churches available in English.
It's all my own work. The photos are too, except where noted.
The churches are divided up by sestiere - the six 'boroughs'
of Venice established by Doge Vitale Michiel in 1171. I've added an extra
page for Giudecca, which is not a sestiere - it's actually part of
Dorsoduro - but is a separate enough entity to deserve its own page,
I think. There are also pages devoted to the lagoon islands and to
demolished churches, and to the churches of Padua, Verona and
I suppose I should
point out that, contradictory as it may seem to some, this is a
religion-free site. My interest is artistic, historical, and unpious. I am respectful of others' beliefs, usually, and expect them
to be respectful of my personal convictions too.
church's history is told, followed by a description of its
architecture, artistic highlights, unique features, the art it has lost
and any interesting stories. The degree to which each topic is
covered will vary, depending on the information available and what
makes each church interesting and worth visiting, as will the amount of
personal observation and opinion in each piece. The latter depends on
my having visited the church, and how recently, and it's this
aspect that will keep the site improving for a good long while, I
think. My intention is to tell you what makes each church special,
rather than to list all of its features and contents. As I
progress I'm finding that I'm becoming more interested in digging out
the sparse facts about forgotten churches rather than writing about the
churches that are well-enough covered elsewhere. Also I'm
finding that on later visits experience and education is making me
notice different things. Each entry also tells you the nearest
vaporetto stop and a link to it's position on a special
Google map. And then there's the opening times - I'll endeavour to keep these times as accurate as
possible, but it's always a good idea to check before travelling, and to
be prepared for disappointment.
There's also an alphabetical list of all the churches
and a page revealing my
To search just within this site using Google, enter your search
into the box as usual and then type in site:churchesofvenice.com
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send me an encouraging e-mail
and my other sites are...
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The Friends of Fictional Cities and the Churches of Venice
Click on the link and Like the page for
regular news updates.
You can post (positive) comments too.
15th January 2021
January can be a depressing month in
the best of years, and Lockdown 3 in the UK has made this January
even grimmer - stopping at home very strongly advised and only
essential shops open. But this week began with us getting two new
cats and has ended up with me getting my Covid vaccination. So some
optimism that trips might be possible this Spring. May? June? Let's
14th November 2020
We’re a week into Lockdown 2 in the
UK, and as museums and cathedrals are closed until early December my
life currently consists of food shopping, online art-history courses
and working on the websites.
The Churches of Florence colour scheme is no longer green, but a
tasteful terracotta. I tried the green of the marble on SM Novella,
using Windows’ new built-in colour-sampling function on photos of
the facade, but it was too murky. Both churches sites are benefiting
from some good stuff found on Oxfam’s online bookshop. A big
hardback catalogue of the Accademia has been gone through and been a
benefit, especially to the Scuole pages here. Some 1970s guidebooks
to the Frari, Santa Fosca on Torcello and Santa Croce in Florence
are now top of the pile, smelling strongly of old books.
12th October 2020
When the Covid situation
improved in the summer, and lockdowns were eased, it looked like a
September or October trip to Italy might be possible. But Autumn is
bringing further restricting and measures and it's looking
increasingly unlikely that I'll be getting my ass to Italy this
year. I have been working on a page devoted to Ferrara for this
site, but it needs more church visits and photos to be presentable.
Three art-historical guided trips, to Siena, Lucca and Parma, have
been postponed from this year to the first half of 2021 and I really
hope that they, and some solo church research trips, happen. I'm
getting around England, our cathedrals are grand, and empty museums
are a treat, but I'm definitely suffering gelato, gilded-altarpiece
and fresco-cycle withdrawal symptoms. Life goes on, though, and hope
9th April 2020
revising of this site has now seen the completion of Cannaregio.
Dates have been added, or clarified, altarpiece listings improved,
and more relic-related fun was had. I learned that
Santa Maria dei Servi had a fragment of the titulus
from the True Cross, the piece of wood with INRI written
on it, and a famed and much-reported silver reliquary on the high
altar containing the head of Mary Cleophas, one of the Three Marys,
also known as 'the other Mary'. In a print of the reliquary her
crowned head peaks above the rim in a way that you'd have to be
unusually pious not to grin at.
1st April 2020
Over the years photos of
firmly- closed churches have slowly found their way onto these
pages. Mostly these have resulted from the buildings being used for
art exhibitions -
Sant'Andrea della Zirada,
Santa Maria Valverde
are prime examples. Much rarer are examples of the
Venetian-resident wives of Welsh authors risking a shouting at by
photographing the interior of a church long thought to have been
crumbling, stripped and bare. My entry for
Spirito Santo now has three
interior photos that soundly contradict this assumption and, also
courtesy of said Caroline, details of an altarpiece once in the
church that looks to be a large can of worms in the making.
Last week I started my coronavirus-enforced revising of The Churches of
Venice and have just finished the first page of Cannaregio. New
knowledge includes the fact that Doge Renier Zen was a prominent
sponsor of the Crociferi/Gesuiti church in the 13th century, having
presented the church with the relics of Saint Barbara in 1256, which
helped the order’s finances no end. (But a second body of Barbara at
the convent of San Giovanni Evangelista on Torcello would later gain
the official recognition.) Then in 1581 the city made a diplomatic
gift of a rib from the relics to the Duke of Mantua. This knowledge
came from a PhD thesis I found online, and have credited. Also up
and credited is a photo montage I found on Wikipedia showing the
Bellini San Giobbe altarpiece in its specially-carved stone frame. I
also found out what art was supposedly once in the now stripped and
bare San Leonardo. And more!
21st March 2020
Due to the coronavirus
lockdown in Italy Florence is now not getting visited by me next
week and neither is Siena in April. In better news all my websites
are now shifted and working, I'm very happy to say. With several
tripless months in prospect, and spending so much time at home, I'm
now contemplating projects. Adding a new city, in optimistic
anticipation of a comprehensive visit, is one option. Another is
being more systematic about each church having an image (and a
discussion?) of its best painting, at the very least. So now's the
time - if you've ever thought 'Jeff's websites are great but I
really wish he'd...' do let me know.
5th January 2020
Making plans for 2020. On
this site Bologna and Venice have had a fair amount of attention of
late, but Verona has fallen behind a bit, my last visit being in
2017. And I've yet to explore the churches there which had just been
gathered touristically into a Chorus-type organisation called
Verona Minor Hierusalem. Possible
city additions in the Veneto are Modena and Vicenza, both of which
I've never visited however. Over on
The Churches of Florence and Siena
the latter got a lot of work last year and Florence is
getting visited this March. Possible new cities here include Pisa,
Prato and Arezzo, the inclusion of which could prompt another name
change to The Churches of Florence and Tuscany.
Also my new camera (a Fujifilm X-T30
mirrorless) helped my take some fine photos in Venice in November,
and I now have a new very-wide-angle lens, which means that I’ve now
got to revisit every church, especially the ones across narrow
alleys, to get even more of them in!
Even more prosaically all of my sites will be moving to new
hosting this year, but I hope that this will go so smoothly you
won’t even notice.
The updating mentioned
below continue, and I'm having to refresh the info on the special
Biennale-related exhibition openings as they finished on the 24th.
Any news about if the churches are remaining open through some other agency
would be appreciated.
I'm just back from my first
visit to Venice in almost two years and so I've been adding useful facts and
fab photos like fury! Rare visits to
Giovanni di Malta and
have lead to major updates, and next I'll be feeding in some books
and guides that I picked up.
I'm just back from a week
in Ferrara and Bologna with plenty of photos and words to add to my
Bologna pages in the coming weeks, before next month's trip to
Preparing myself for a trip
to Venice in November, making a list of possible odd church
openings and passing a list of updates needing updating over to
Terry H, who provided sterling help last July and is in Venice now,
has provided much good news and up-to-date updates. Both
(Byzantine icon and revetment) and
Giovanni di Malta (Bellini altarpiece) have guaranteed
opening times until the 24th of November, due to their hosting art
exhibitions - Biennale-related but not official satellites, hence
the news of them being slow to arrive. This is looking like becoming
a fashionable way to staff the opening of some churches and follows
the even bigger deal of the even bigger
opening in March 2019 as Ocean Space and currently housing an
exhibition until September 29th 2019. Furthermore the building work
San Sebastiano, long a noisy
building-site experience, seems to be coming to an end. A
long-suffering attendant told a recent visitor that it was hoped
that the work would finally finish in October. Currently only the
right side of the nave is still blocked off.
Good news all around!
The month of May saw
updates adding news about the sudden opening of
for an art installation and I've been swapping some photos with
nicer spruced-up versions, replacing some of the small ones I'd made to
lower my bandwidth, which has stopped being a problem.
It seems that guidebooks are waning in popularity, what with the
internet and all. It's still gratifying to get good plugs in them,
like the new edition of the Rough Guide to Venice and the Veneto,
from which comes the scan below.
Recent reading about
Palladio has added some fascinating bits of content. For example
I've been able to add to the fact that in 1204 the body of Saint
Lucy was brought to
San Giorgio Maggiore, but that her
feast day celebrations on the December 13th became so popular that
after a storm resulted in the deaths of many people in 1280 her body
was moved to the church of
Santa Lucia in Cannaregio, the fact
that the disgruntled monks here held onto an arm relic. I've also
added a photo of the
Redentore interior that shows that
until 1950 there were monochrome grisaille figures, like cardboard
cut-outs, in imitation of sculpture, in niches in the nave.
Improvement rather than expansion is my goal this year. A trip to
Venice in September has been booked too, my last visit being January
Copyright © Jeff Cotton 2007-2021
Next year will be this site's 15th anniversary!