Chiesa di Sant'Alvise is a Gothic-style gem of the city. It's one of those Venice churches that are plain on the outside but rich inside. It is unique for its 15th-century hanging choir and the ceiling covered in frescoes.
Getting to the church
Chiesa di Sant'Alvise stands in one of the most remote parts of Cannaregio. You can come here with a vaporetto. The closest stop is S. Alvise, only a few minutes away from Campo di Sant'Alvise. You can check out the location of the church on our interactive Venice map.
History & architecture
Chiesa di Sant’Alvise honors St. Louis of Toulouse. He was a prince of the Angevin dynasty who became a saint in 1317. People loved him for rejecting the titles and wealth for the faith. The history of Chiesa di Sant'Alvise starts with a woman named Antonia Venier. As for the legend, in 1383, the saint appeared to her in a dream. Later, in 1388, the church, commissioned by the noblewoman, emerged on the Venice map. The adjacent monastery, built by Augustinian nuns, appeared a bit later, around 1411.
But the church as we see it today got its look during the 17th-century renovation. Only the 13th-century bell tower stayed untouched. Sant'Alvise is a Gothic church with a basilica-like layout. The brick facade and the entrance portal made of Istrian stone are relatively simple. At the entrance, you'll see a Greek marble statue of St. Louis, attributed to Bartolomeo Bon. But remember, the exterior doesn't do justice to the single-nave interior. The latter can compare with some of the finest Venice churches.
Inside the church
As you enter Sant'Alvise, you'll first notice the gorgeous frescoes on the ceiling. The frescoes are by Piero Antonio Torri and Pietro Ricchi, created in 1674. In 1991, they underwent a full restoration. Noteworthy are the panels by Lazzaro Bastiani, depicting the events from the Old Testament. There are also works by Angelo Trevisani, Pietro Damini, Pietro della Vecchia, and Gianmaria Morlaiter. But the most valuable pieces are by Giambattista Tiepolo. They are Crowning with Thorns, Flagellation, and Ascent of Mount Calvary. But what makes Sant'Alvise unique among other Venice churches is the barco. It is a 15th-century Venetian hanging choir supported by two columns. It is one of the first of its kind.
Things to do in the area
Look at the Venice map and you'll see that Chiesa di Sant'Alvise is close to Santa Croce. It is a busy neighborhood with the city's central railway station and Piazzale Roma. But in Cannaregio, there are many places that any Venice guest should see. Close to Sant'Alvise, you'll find Madonna dell'Orto and I Gesuiti. These are some of the most famous Venice churches. You can also visit the Natural History Museum and Ca Pesaro Gallery. At the gallery's top floor is the Oriental Art Museum, one of the freshest Venice museums. Chiesa di Sant’Alvise is also a vaporetto ride away from the Murano island. Remember this when planning your Venice itinerary with our interactive Venice map.