Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato is the oldest on Murano island and one of the ancient Venice churches. Therefore, it is a must-see place on your Murano itinerary. Remember to explore the mesmerizing mosaics and the unique relics of the dragon.
Getting to the church
To get a better understanding of the location of the Basilica, see our Venice map. The island is accessible from the water, so it's best to arrive by vaporetto. The closest stop, Murano Museo, is only a few minutes from the church. Moreover, on your way to Santi Maria e Donato, you'll see the famous Murano Glass Museum.
History & architecture
Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato is a perfect representation of Byzantine-Venetian art. The original structure dates back to the 7th century. But in the 11th and 12th centuries, the reconstructions took place. The bell tower, built from the same red brick as the church, stands apart from the main building. The exterior features an impressive colonnaded facade facing the Venetian Lagoon. A Gothic keel-shaped roof, original Corinthian columns, and exquisite Murano stained glass windows. You can see all this while visiting this minor yet fantastic Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato.
Inside the church
As you step inside the church, prepare for a fascinating experience. Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato is most famous for its precious stone mosaics. One of the most worthwhile is a 12th-century apse mosaic depicting the Madonna. In addition, the church is known for the relics of Saint Donatus, kept in a marble sarcophagus. Behind the altar, visitors can also witness four rib bones, each a meter long. According to the legend, these bones are of a dragon killed by Saint Donatus in Greece. Few Venice churches offer such exciting treasures.
Things to do in the area
There are quite a few fun things to do on Murano island. It is most famous for the craft of glass making. Close to Santi Maria e Donato is the Murano Glass Museum. You can learn about this exquisite Venetian art through fantastic exhibits. About 10 minutes west of the Basilica, you'll find Santa Maria degli Angeli. It is one of the ancient Renaissance Venice churches. You can then cross Ponte Longo Lino Toffolo and reach a different island part. The sites you can't miss are the Murano Lighthouse and the church of San Pietro Martire. With access to our interactive Venice map, you can plan a wonderful day trip on the island.