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Italy: San Giorgio Maggiore

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San Giorgio Maggiore | Italy | Europe

[Visited: May 2006]

San Marco is the most visited place of Venice, and truly crowded year-round. Just across the waters of the Bacino lies the island of San Giorgio, easily recognizable by the San Giorgio Maggiore church and campanile or belltower. While beautiful from a distance, a short hop by boat takes you right to the doorstep of the church. Here you can easily see the mastership of Andrea Palladio, the famous Venetian architect. This was his first church design, and as in his other buildings, he managed to incorporate classical forms in contemporary buildings.

Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): View from the bellfry of San Giorgio: cloisters and Giudecca

The island of San Giorgio already had a church in the 9th century, and a Benedictine monastery was founded in 982. The monks drained the marshes of the island, and the monastery was destroyed by an earthquake in 1223. Palladio designed the church and work began in 1566. The master did not live to see the building completed, but ever since, it has been a typical building for Venice, and a defining element of the horizontal skyline as seen from San Marco square. The island also boasts a small port, was home to the Venetian artillery, and even has a theatre.

Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): Church of San Giorgio Maggiore by Andrea Palladio

The church has paintings inside, mostly by Tintoretto, and a choir with nicely carved wooden benches. But the main attraction to see is the campanile or bellfry. After buying your ticket, a monk takes you to the elevator, and accompanies you up the tower. The views over the city, San Marco, the canals, the bridges, the islands, San Giorgio itself, the theatre, Giudecca, the many ships sailing the Venetian waters: you can easily spend a long time watching Venetian life go by at your feet. Unfortunately, I visited San Giorgio on a weekday and it was not possible to take a tour of the monastery, so I continued to Giudecca after looking around the church and the port.

Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): San Giorgio Maggiore church seen from one side
Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): Campanile, bellfry, of San Giorgio Maggiore church
Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): Statues and organ in San Giorgio Maggiore church
Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): View of Venice from San Giorgio Maggiore
Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): Looking over the Bacino waters from San Marco, with San Giorgio island and church
Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): San Giorgio Maggiore and bellfry or campanile from the Bacino waters
Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): San Giorgio Maggiore church, unmistakeable Palladio design
Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): Facade of San Giorgio Maggiore by Andrea Palladio
Picture of San Giorgio Maggiore (Italy): Interior of San Giorgio Maggiore church

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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