Venice is a city of 107 spectacular churches, writes Sacred Destinations, but three stand head and shoulders above the rest: the Romano-Gothic church of Saints Giovanni and Paolo (called Zanipolo for short), the great brick basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa I Frari, and Baldassare Longhena’s basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, “a vast, octagonal building built on a platform made of 100,000 wooden piles.” It was built at the behest of the Venetian Senate, who decreed, in 1630, that if the city was delivered from a devastating plague then a church would be built in the Virgin’s honour. “The site for the new church was a commanding one, at the mouth of the Grand Canal … it is impossible now to picture Venice without the high dome of the Salute, as every great painter of the city from Canaletto to Turner has depicted it,” says Christopher Howse at The Telegraph.
While I Frari’s assets include Canova’s pyramid mausoleum, Bellini’s achingly sweet Madonna with Child and Longhena’s creepy Doge Pesaro funereal monument, making it “one of the city’s most significant artistic storehouses,” according to Time Out. Brightest of all is Titian’s altarpiece, Madonna of the Assumption, “which still hangs where it has hung for almost 500 years,” says Michael Glover at The Independent.
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