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Santa Maria dei Carmini

Facade of church of Santa Maria dei Carmini, VeniceMost visitors associate the Carmini with Tiepolo, whose dizzying work decorates the scuola of the same name. Santa Maria, now a parish church, was built originally as the Venetian heart of the Carmelite order. A statue of the Virgin of Carmelo is perched on top of its campanile. The original one was destroyed by lightning and was substituted with a new one in the ‘90’s.

The building is a wonderful mixture of styles, with an early Renaissance façade fronting a predominantly Gothic interior, laid out on a basilica plan and dating from the 14th century. Twelve ancient columns support each side of the soaring vault, 97 metres high, drawing the eye to the 14th century dome.

Large, but very ordinary, baroque paintings cover most of the interior walls. However, there are a couple of gems, notably Cima da Conegliano’s Adoration of the Shepherds (in the right nave), and Lorenzo Lotto’s St. George and the Dragon, considered by art historians to be one of the most beautiful in all Italian art.

On your way out, stop for a few moments to take in the lovely Romano-Gothic side door (pronao) embedded with Byzantine stonework fragments.

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