Sacred Splendor: 14 Famous Churches in Venice, Italy

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Venice, a city renowned for its iconic gondolas and the Grand Canal, holds more than meets the eye. 

Amidst the well-known attractions lie the often-overlooked gems of famous churches in Venice. These sacred sanctuaries offer an enriching experience, showcasing remarkable works of art in their original settings. 

Stepping inside, you’ll find respite from the crowds, allowing for a deeper appreciation of the exquisite masterpieces. 

The best part? 

These beautiful churches in Venice are often free or low cost, making them accessible to all. And, what better time to go to these churches than at Easter time?

Escape the sweltering Venetian heat and seek refuge within the cool interiors adorned with mesmerizing frescoes and sculptures. Embrace the tranquility and let the underrated churches in Venice be an essential part of your bucket list. 

Read on to discover a side of Venice that reveals the city’s rich cultural and artistic heritage, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Check out the best passes for Venice including passes for the most popular churches!

Dress Code and Etiquette

When visiting the churches in Venice, it is important to adhere to a respectful dress code and observe proper etiquette. Places of worship hold significant religious and cultural importance, and dressing appropriately shows respect for the sacred spaces and the beliefs of others. Here are some guidelines to follow:

basilica di san marco lines

Dress code requirements for visiting churches

It is a good idea to bring along some pants to put on before entering any churches in Venice or take along a lightweight shawl in your bag. Some churches will loan or rent a shawl to wear in the church but not all do. 

  • Shoulders: Ensure that your shoulders are covered. Avoid wearing tank tops, strapless tops, or spaghetti straps.
  • Knees: Both men and women should ensure their knees are covered. Avoid wearing shorts, mini-skirts, or dresses that are above the knee.
  • Cleavage: Avoid wearing low-cut or revealing tops that expose too much cleavage.
  • Headwear: Some churches may require men to remove hats or caps upon entry. 

Check out my packing list guide on what to wear in Venice!

Proper behavior and respect while inside the churches:

  • Silence: Maintain a quiet and respectful demeanor while inside the churches in Venice. Refrain from engaging in loud conversations, using your mobile phone, or playing audio without headphones.
  • Photography: Some churches may have restrictions on photography or the use of flash. Respect any signs or instructions provided and avoid taking photos in prohibited areas.
  • Movement: Be mindful of the movement within the churches in Venice. Avoid blocking passages or doorways, and be aware of any designated areas for worship or religious rituals.
  • Religious artifacts: Treat religious artifacts, statues, and paintings with respect. Avoid touching them unless it is explicitly allowed or part of a guided tour.
  • Attending Mass: If you visit during a religious service or Mass, take a seat at the back or sides of the church to minimize disruption. Observe the rituals and respect the worshipers’ devotion.

Remember, churches in Venice are not only tourist attractions but also active places of worship. Respecting the sanctity of these spaces enhances the experience for both visitors and the local community. By following the dress code and observing proper etiquette, you contribute to the preservation of Venice’s religious heritage and create a harmonious atmosphere for all visitors.

Want to attend mass in English? Check out the article here!

Buy a Chorus Church Pass

The Chorus Church Pass (See details here) is a convenient and cost-effective way to explore the rich architectural and artistic treasures of Venice’s most famous churches. It grants access to a network of 18 churches in Venice, allowing visitors to delve into the city’s religious heritage without purchasing individual tickets for each site. The pass offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the diverse styles and historical significance of these magnificent structures.

Benefits and advantages of using the pass

  • Cost savings: The Chorus Church Pass provides excellent value for money, as it offers admission to multiple churches at a discounted rate compared to buying separate tickets for each location.
  • Flexibility: With the pass, you have the freedom to visit the participating churches in Venice at your own pace and in any order you prefer. This flexibility allows you to create a personalized itinerary based on your interests and available time.
  • Variety and richness of experiences: The churches included in the Chorus Church Pass showcase different architectural styles, periods, and artistic masterpieces. From grand basilicas to hidden gems, each church offers a unique glimpse into Venice’s cultural and religious heritage.
  • Cultural immersion: Exploring these religious buildings provides a deeper understanding of Venetian history, art, and spirituality. It offers a chance to connect with the city’s past and immerse yourself in its rich cultural tapestry.
  • Access to hidden gems: The pass grants access to lesser-known churches in Venice that may be overlooked by traditional tourist routes. Discovering these hidden gems can be a truly enriching and rewarding experience.

By utilizing the Chorus Church Pass, you can embark on a captivating journey through Venice’s ecclesiastical heritage, marvel at stunning architecture, and discover extraordinary works of art. This pass offers convenience, affordability, and a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the spiritual and cultural treasures of this remarkable city.

Not all of the churches on this list are in the Chorus Church network. The ones that aren’t are often free or only charge for certain parts of the church such as Basilica San Marco and chiesa di San Zaccaria. All Chorus Churches in the list will be highlighted as such. 

Want to know the worst time to visit Venice? Read the full article!

Here are the 14 Best Churches in Venice

1 – Basilica di San Marco, aka St. Mark’s Basilica

Step into the magnificent world of Basilica di San Marco, the crown jewel of Venice. With its Byzantine splendor and rich history, the iconic Basilica di San Marco stands as a testament to the city’s grandeur. Admire the gleaming golden mosaics that adorn the domes and walls, depicting biblical scenes and intricate patterns. Marvel at the Pala d’Oro, an exquisite altarpiece adorned with precious gems and enamels. The opulent interior of this beautiful church boasts breathtaking artworks and relics, including the treasured Horses of Saint Mark. Ascend to the loggia for a stunning view of the Basilica di San Marco. 

Entrance to the Basilica di San Marco is free, but there is a fee to access certain areas, such as the gilded altarpiece Pala d’Oro, the terrace, and the museum.

Notable works of art:

  • Pala d’Oro (Golden Altarpiece)
  • Mosaics depicting biblical scenes
  • Horses of Saint Mark

Notable features:

  • Byzantine architecture with five domes
  • Gilded interior with marble floors
  • Loggia offering panoramic views

Part of the Chorus Church network: No

2 – Santa Maria della Salute

Nestled at the entrance of the Grand Canal, Santa Maria della Salute is a beautiful church in Venice that graces the Venetian skyline. This Baroque Santa Maria della Salute was built on the Grand Canal as a votive offering, expressing gratitude for the city’s deliverance from the plague. 

Admire its grandeur, characterized by a majestic dome and an elegant façade adorned with statues and intricate reliefs. Inside Santa Maria della Salute discover the serene interior adorned with stunning artworks, including Titian’s “The Marriage at Cana” and Tintoretto’s “The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.” 

Enjoy a peaceful stroll along the surrounding promenade, just behind the Punta della Dogana offering magnificent views of the city. Santa Maria della Salute stands as a symbol of hope and a must-visit church in Venice.

Entrance is free but there is a fee to enter the Sacristy of 4 euro.

Notable works of art:

  • Titian’s “The Marriage at Cana”
  • Tintoretto’s “The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple”

Notable features:

  • Majestic dome and impressive Baroque architecture
  • Elegant façade adorned with statues and reliefs
  • Surrounding promenade with panoramic views

Part of the Chorus Church network: No

3 – San Giorgio Maggiore

Located on its own island, San Giorgio Maggiore offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling streets of Venice. Designed by Andrea Palladio, this Renaissance church in Venice showcases harmonious proportions and exquisite architectural details and is often considered to be the most beautiful church in Venice. 

Marvel at the classical façade and the majestic bell tower that provides a panoramic view of the city. Step inside to find a serene interior adorned with beautiful artworks, including Tintoretto’s “The Last Supper” and Palladio’s own designs. 

Take a leisurely stroll in the monastery garden or visit the adjacent contemporary art space, showcasing modern creations. San Giorgio Maggiore is a serene church in Venice where art, architecture, and tranquility converge.

Instead of battling the crowds in the San Marco Belltower for a panorama of the city, opt for this campanile of San Giorgio for better views and no crowds. 

Notable works of art:

  • Tintoretto’s “The Last Supper”
  • Palladio’s architectural designs

Notable features:

  • Renaissance architecture by Andrea Palladio
  • Bell tower with panoramic views
  • Monastery garden and contemporary art space

Part of the Chorus Church network: No

4 – Chiesa di San Zaccaria

Discover the hidden treasures of chiesa di San Zaccaria, a beautiful church in Venice tucked away near St. Mark’s Square. Immerse yourself in the beauty of its Venetian Gothic architecture and ornate façade. Step inside to explore the serene interior adorned with captivating artworks and ancient relics. 

The original Chiesa di San Zaccaria dates back to the 10th century and houses the body of San Zaccaria which was donated by Byzantine Emperor Leo. The tomb can be seen to the right of the altar.

Admire Giovanni Bellini’s masterpiece, “Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints,” and Jacopo Tintoretto’s poignant depiction of “The Deposition.” As you delve deeper into the church of San Zaccaria, consider descending into the water submerged crypt, where the tombs of many early doges lie (entrance fee required). 

Notable works of art:

  • Giovanni Bellini’s “Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints”
  • Jacopo Tintoretto’s “The Deposition”

Notable features:

  • Venetian Gothic architecture and intricate façade
  • Serene interior with ancient relics
  • Submerged crypt (entrance fee required)

Part of the Chorus Church network: No

5 – Santa Maria dei Miracoli

Step into the enchanting church in Venice of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, an architectural gem nestled in the heart of Venice in the residential neighborhood of Cannaregio. This beautiful church, with its exquisite marble façade adorned in delicate pink and white hues, captivates the senses. Inside, find solace in the serene atmosphere, where light dances on the intricately detailed surfaces. 

santa maria dei miracoli famous church in venice

Notable works of art include stunning paintings by Vittore Carpaccio, the inspiration for the name of the famous raw beef dish invented here in Venice at Harry’s Bar. While an entrance fee is required to enter, the ethereal beauty and artistic treasures found within make it a worthwhile investment. 

Notable works of art:

“Madonna della Misericordia”, “The Martyrdom of St. Ursula”, and “The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple” by Vittore Carpaccio

Notable features:

  • Renaissance architecture with a magnificent marble façade
  • Serene atmosphere with intricately detailed interiors

Entrance fee: Yes

Part of the Chorus Church network: Yes

6 – Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

Prepare to be awe-inspired as you enter the magnificent Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari church in Venice. This grand Gothic church is the biggest church in Venice and holds a significant place in Venetian history and boasts a remarkable artistic heritage. Admire the soaring arches, majestic nave, and intricate details of its architectural design. Inside, feast your eyes upon masterpieces by renowned artists. 

Behold Titian’s masterpiece, the “Assumption of the Virgin,” a radiant depiction of the Virgin Mary ascending into heaven. Marvel at Giovanni Bellini’s tender “Madonna and Child” and the extraordinary tomb monument by sculptor Antonio Canova. 

The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari stands as a testament to Venetian artistic brilliance and is a must-visit church in Venice for art and history enthusiasts alike.

Notable works of art:

  • Titian’s “Assumption of the Virgin”
  • Giovanni Bellini’s “Madonna and Child”
  • Tomb monument by Antonio Canova

Notable features:

  • Grand Gothic architecture with soaring arches
  • Majestic nave and intricate details

Part of the Chorus Church network: Yes

7 – Santa Maria del Giglio

This elegant Baroque church in Venice, also known as Santa Maria Zobenigo, exudes a captivating allure. Admire its picturesque façade adorned with ornate sculptures and intricate details. Step inside to discover a sanctuary of refined beauty and tranquility. 

Marvel at the magnificent artworks that grace its interior, including works by renowned artists such as Sebastiano Ricci and Giovanni Antonio Fumiani. The Church of Santa Maria del Giglio offers a serene escape, inviting you to immerse yourself in its artistic splendor and experience a moment of serenity amidst the Venetian charm.

Notable works of art:

  • “The Glory of Santa Maria del Giglio” by Sebastiano Ricci
  • “The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple” by Giovanni Antonio Fumiani

Notable features:

  • Elegant Baroque architecture
  • Picturesque façade adorned with sculptures

Part of the Chorus Church network: Yes

8 – Church of San Giacomo di Rialto

san giacomo di rialto church venice

Step into the ancient world of the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto, Venice’s oldest church which dates back to the 5th century. Located near the iconic Rialto Bridge, it offers a serene retreat from the bustling crowds. Admire the remnants of its Byzantine-style architecture, a testament to its historical significance. Inside, immerse yourself in its tranquil atmosphere and connect with Venice’s early Christian heritage. 

Make sure to read the full article about shopping at the Rialto Market!

While unassuming in its beauty, the beautiful Church of San Giacomo di Rialto exudes a sense of reverence and offers a peaceful respite in the heart of the city. Explore its sacred interior and embrace the rich history that echoes within its hallowed walls.

Notable works of art: 

“Saint Vitale on horse and four Saints Adoring Virgin Mary and Child” by Vittore Carpaccio

Notable features:

  • Ancient Byzantine-style architecture by architect Baldassare Longhena
  • Close proximity to the Rialto Bridge, offering respite from the crowds

Part of the Chorus Church network: Yes

9 – Santa Maria Formosa

santa maria formosa in venice italy

Located in the Campo of Santa Maria Formosa, the Church of Santa Maria Formosa invites you to discover a world of architectural elegance and historical significance.

Admire the graceful façade of this Renaissance church, adorned with intricate details and statues. As you enter, the peaceful atmosphere envelops you, allowing for quiet contemplation. Marvel at the artistic treasures within, including works by renowned artists such as Palma il Giovane and Giovanni Bellini. The Church of Santa Maria Formosa which dates back to the 7th century, set amidst the lively square, offers a sanctuary of serenity, where art, history, and spirituality converge.

Notable works of art:

  • Madonna with Child and St. Dominic by Tiepolo

Notable features:

  • Renaissance architecture with a graceful façade
  • Polyptych of Saint Barbara by Palma il Vecchio
  • Located in the lively Campo of Santa Maria Formosa

Part of the Chorus Church network: Yes

10 – Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo (San Zanipolo in Venetian dialect)

Step into the grandeur of the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, a majestic church in Venice that holds a special place in its history. Known as the “Venetian Pantheon,” this monumental Gothic masterpiece showcases stunning architectural details and is considered one of the most beautiful churches in Venice. 

Admire the intricate façade and majestic rose window as you enter. Inside, discover a treasure trove of artistic marvels. Behold Giovanni Bellini’s captivating “Madonna and Child,” along with Verrocchio’s striking “Monument to Bartolomeo Colleoni.”

As you wander through the vast interior, immerse yourself in the stories of Doges laid to rest in magnificent tombs. San Giovanni e Paolo is a testament to Venetian glory, where art, history, and architectural splendor converge.

Notable works of art:

  • Giovanni Bellini’s “Madonna and Child”
  • Verrocchio’s “Monument to Bartolomeo Colleoni”

Notable features:

  • Majestic Gothic architecture with intricate details
  • Striking façade and rose window
  • Magnificent tombs of Doges

Part of the Chorus Church network: No

If you are thinking of visiting Venice in December, make sure to attend the Immaculate Conception conert at the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo!

11 – Church of San Polo

Immerse yourself in the timeless beauty of the Church of San Polo, located in the historic district that shares the same name. Steeped in history, this Renaissance gem invites you to explore its serene atmosphere and appreciate its rich artistic heritage.

Marvel at the ship’s keel roof, a unique feature that adds to the Church of San Polo’s allure. Restored in 1804 by Davide Rossi, it stands as a testament to Venetian craftsmanship. As you enter, your gaze is drawn to Jacopo Tintoretto’s Last Supper on the left wall near the entrance, while the first altarpiece on the left, attributed to his studio, captivates with its beauty. 

Notable works of art:

  • Last Supper by Jacopo Tintoretto
  • Altarpiece attributed to Tintoretto’s studio
  • Marriage of the Virgin by Paolo Veronese
  • St. Peter and the Keys, St. Paul at Tarsus, and the Temptation of St. Anthony Abbot by Palma il Giovane

Notable features:

  • Ship’s keel roof
  • Bronze statues by Alessandro Vittoria (depicting St. Paul and St. Anthony Abbot)

Part of the Chorus Church network: Yes

12 – San Francesco della Vigna

Discover the tranquility of San Francesco della Vigna, a hidden gem nestled in the eastern part of Venice. 

This historic church in Venice by the Franciscan friars, with its Renaissance architecture and serene atmosphere, invites you to immerse yourself in its spiritual aura. Admire the elegant façade and intricate details that showcase the mastery of the renowned architect Andrea Palladio.

Step inside to find a sanctuary adorned with remarkable artworks and tombs. Marvel at the high altar sculpted by Jacopo Sansovino and be captivated by Francesco Hayez’s masterpiece, “The Resurrection of Christ.” With its rich artistic heritage and peaceful ambiance, San Francesco della Vigna offers a serene escape from the bustling streets of Venice.

Notable works of art:

  • Jacopo Sansovino’s high altar
  • Francesco Hayez’s “The Resurrection of Christ”

Notable features:

  • Renaissance architecture by architect Andrea Palladio
  • Elegant façade with intricate details
  • Peaceful and serene atmosphere

Part of the Chorus Church network: No

13 – Church of San Giuseppe di Castello

Nestled in the peaceful Castello district near the Arsenale, the Church of San Giuseppe di Castello is a true hidden treasure. As you admire the exterior of the building, you’ll notice its modest yet classical style, characterized by simple lines and pilasters supporting a humble pediment. But don’t let its unassuming appearance deceive you! 

The interior features a single nave, a presbytery, an apse, and two small chapels. On the right wall, you’ll find three beautifully adorned altars, while the left side houses two altars, including an immense mausoleum dedicated to Doge Marino Grimani and his wife Morosina Morosini. 

Art enthusiasts will be delighted to discover the exquisite paintings by Palma il Giovane and Paolo Veronese in the presbytery, showcasing the “Adoration of the Shepherds” and “Saint Jerome.”

Notable works of art:

  • Altarpiece by Alessandro Vittoria, depicting the Holy Family with Saints

Notable features:

  • Elegant simplicity of the façade
  • Serene interior with statues and paintings
  • Located in the peaceful neighborhood of Castello

Part of the Chorus Church network: Yes

14 – San Trovaso

Welcome to San Trovaso, a charming church in Venice nestled in the lively Dorsoduro district of Venice. As you approach, you’ll be captivated by its picturesque façade, adorned with intricate details and statues. 

One striking feature of this architectural gem is its dual facade. Legend has it that this unique design element served a practical purpose: it helped to maintain peace and prevent clashes between the rival factions of Castellani and Nicolotti. When both groups converged on the church during saintly celebrations, the dual entrances ensured they remained separate, avoiding any potential altercations.

The dual facades are exact copies of each other with one facing the bustling Campo San Trovaso, while the other gazes serenely upon the tranquil waters of the adjacent canal that shares the same name.

Notable works of art:

  • Paintings by Jacopo Palma il Giovane
  • Last Supper by Tintoretto

Notable features:

  • Picturesque façade with intricate details and statues
  • Peaceful and intimate atmosphere
  • Located in the laid back Dorsoduro district

Part of the Chorus Church network: No

Wrapping It Up

From the grandeur of Basilica San Marco to the hidden gems like San Trovaso, each of the famous churches in Venice offers a unique experience, showcasing breathtaking works of art in their original settings. The quiet churches in Venice provide a peaceful respite from the bustling crowds, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich history and spiritual heritage of Venice. 

Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, or a seeker of tranquility, exploring the churches of Venice is an essential part of any itinerary. Don’t miss the chance to uncover the hidden beauty and cultural significance that lie within these architectural masterpieces.

Sal Presti

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