San Giorgio Maggiore

San Giorgio Maggiore (46)

This church, one of the most important works by Andrea Palladio, is in a privileged spot: the small island of the same name situated just opposite the Piazzeta. The islet, inhabited since time immemorial, was home for a community of Benedictines from the 10th century and, on the fall of the Republic in 1797, was awarded the status of free port.  

Standing upright as a fundamental piece of the appearance of the San Marco canal, to search for the origins of San Giorgio Maggiore and the adjoining monastery we should go back to 1560, when Palladio began his construction. The temple was finished by Simone Sorella around 1580.

Perhaps this is one of the Palladian buildings in which the influence of ancient pagan architecture is most evident. The temple stands before the observer as an architectural complex of great purity and proportion difficult to match. The immaculate white façade overlooked by a triangular pediment and an enormous portico supported by four Corinthian columns produce a curious contrast with the body of the building built with brick.

The explosion of light that enters the inside, which features the choir, is complemented perfectly by the sensation of peace and serenity that the walls give off, covered with stuccos and Istrian stone.

As is common in Venetian churches, San Giorgio Maggiore is decorated with an important series of works of art, among which we can mention The last supper and Congregation of the manna, two canvases that decorate the walls of the presbytery painted by Tintoretto in the last years of his life. 

It is also worth pointing out the bronze sculptural group by Girolamo Campagna for the main altar, as well as the altarpiece by Carpaccio that represents Saint George slaying the dragon. The altarpiece is in the conclave room, a space that has the honour of being the spot where Pope Pious VII was appointed in 1800.

If you want to enjoy one of the best views of the city and the lagoon, do not miss the chance to climb up the campanile, built in the 18th century. The best thing is that, thanks to the lift, you are saved a trying climb up the steps.

Since 1951, when the aristocrat Vittorio Cini bought it, the neighbouring monastery has been a cultural hive. The foundation he created promotes cultural acts and exhibitions, and also runs the library and open-air theatre within the precinct, called the Green Theatre because it is surrounded by gardens. 

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