Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato, located on Murano Island, is the oldest church on the island. It's one of the oldest churches in the lagoon. The original version dates back to the 7th century, but reconstructions took place in the 11th and 12th centuries. You won't find it on the Venice map because it is on the island, but it's well worth a visit during your trip to Murano.
Architecture & design
Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato is a perfect representation of Byzantine-Venetian art. The church's architecture and interior design are magnificent. 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 canal. Gothic keel-shaped roof, original Corinthian columns, and exquisite Murano stained glass windows. You can see all this while visiting this little yet remarkable Basilica.
History & art inside
As you step inside the church, prepare for a mysterious and fascinating experience. Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato is most famous for its precious stone mosaics. There is a 12th-century apse mosaic depicting Madonna and a wonderful mosaic floor.
The church is also known for the relics of Saint Donatus, kept in a marble sarcophagus inside the building. 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.