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.
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.
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.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from San Giorgio Maggiore (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to San Giorgio Maggiore.
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