The small but unique Chiesa di San Moisè is easy to overlook. Its proximity to the well-known and the most popular of Venice churches, Basilica di San Marco, may distract you. Yet, this Roman Catholic church is a hidden gem and a worthy stop on your Venice itinerary. As you can guess by the name, it’s dedicated to Moses. The burial of John Law, the creator of the Mississippi Company, is a pleasant bonus. The lavish interior and exterior of the church wouldn’t leave anyone indifferent.
Getting to the church
The location of San Moisè on the Venice map is super convenient, and it doesn’t get more central than this. The church stands in the San Marco sestiere, close to the famous Piazza di San Marco and St. Mark’s Basilica. You can walk here from any of the best of Venice attractions or arrive here by a vaporetto. The closest stop is San Marco Vallaresso, and the further one is Rialto. It’s one of those Venice churches which have free admission and are open every day of the week.
History & architecture
The attitude of the Venetians to the church is paradoxical. Some love it, and some don’t. San Moisè is a peculiar example of the Venetian Baroque style, which doesn’t entirely fit the standards. The facade features lavish decorations and sculptures; many attributed to the Austrian artist Heinrich Meyring. The facade dates back to 1668, and some critics say the church looks like a wedding cake. Yet, this facade and the architectural touch of Alessandro Tremignon attract many admirers.
Chiesa di San Moisè, built in the 8th century, was a small wooden church dedicated to San Vittore. The current building emerged in 947, dedicated to the Saint and honoring Moise Venier, who financed the reconstruction. After the great fire devastated the church, another rebuilding took place in 1105. It was the case for many other Venice churches. The abovementioned facade, designed in the 17th century, features a monument to Vincenzo Fini, who also paid for the building. Some of the sculptures had to go in the 19th century, so the facade didn’t collapse under their weight.
The interior of San Moisè and the artworks presented are a worthy match to the exterior. The focal point of the interior is the altarpiece with sculptures by Tremignon and Meyring. It depicts Moses at Mount Sinai. Behind it is a canvas masterpiece by Michelangelo Morlaiter. In this beautiful church, you’ll also see Tintoretto’s Washing of the Feet or the Last Supper by Palma il Giovane. Another exciting piece is the 1633 bronze relief depicting the Deposition. The authors are the Roccatagliata brothers.
Things to do in the area
You can never get bored in the area around San Moisè. In addition to the abovementioned St. Mark’s Basilica, plenty of famous Venice churches are nearby. They are Santa Maria della Salute, Santa Maria Formosa, San Zaccaria, and others. It’s easier to plan your route with our interactive Venice map. You can also visit the famous Venice museums - the Doge’s Palace or the Naval History Museum if you want to try something different. We, the veniceXplorer, have covered all these sites to make your Venice trip a joy. If you arrive by vaporetto at the San Marco Giardinetti, stop by at Giardini Reali. It is one of the greenest and most lush places in Venice.