San Giorgio Maggiore island looks like a stage on the water. It has been immortalized on canvas countless times. The church standing on the island is a genuine landmark of Venice. Featured in many paintings, it was also part of Monet's art. As Venetians say, de San Zorzi Mazor is a magnificent basilica, one of the best-known churches in the city. It is a part of the monastery complex of the same name, built between 1559 and 1580. The complex is one of Andrea Palladio's greatest Renaissance works.
Getting into the church
San Giorgio Maggiore is very easy to find on the Venice map. You can get to the island by taking a waterbus. Traveling from St. Mark's Square takes no more than 10 minutes. The closest stop is S. Giorgio, which is only a 3-minute walk from the site. The entrance to San Giorgio Maggiore is free, but there is a fee to get inside the bell tower. It offers some of the best views of the skyline of Venice.
History & architecture of the Church
After the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, the monastery was suppressed, and many of its treasures went missing. In 1829, the island became a free port and, in 1851, the seat of the artillery. That's when the monastery complex regained its role as a cultural center. Later, in 1951, Vittorio Cini bought the monastery with Palladio's cloister, refectory, and library. It also became home to a marine college founded for sailor orphans. Today it is one of the most important churches on the Venice map.
The façade of San Giorgio Maggiore is typically Palladian, modeled on the classical style of ancient Rome. It is a typical reference to Renaissance art, seen in many churches throughout the city. The Redentore, located nearby, is the work of Andrea Palladio too. Vincenzo Scamozzi, a well-known architect, was the one to complete the marble façade. There are three floors, and the interior is spacious.
The most alluring parts of the church are The Palladian Sacristy, the Chapel of the Deposition, and the Conclave Hall. The bell tower of the church is no less impressive, and it is a must for any city guest. It offers a superb panorama of St Mark's Square and the lagoon. It is the fourth-highest bell tower in Venice, almost as high as St. Mark's Campanile. It is accessible to anyone, as you can reach the top by using an elevator.
Artworks of San Giorgio Maggiore
Inside the Latin-cross church, on the presbytery walls, are two works by Tintoretto. They are The Last Supper and The Harvest of Manna. In the Chapel of the Dead, you can see one of his last works - The Deposition. His son, Domenico, finished the painting. Other painters like Jacopo and Leandro Da Bassano, Matteo Ponzone and Sebastiano Ricci embellished the Basilica. San Giorgio Maggiore features sculptures by Girolamo Campagna, Alessandro Vittoria, and Niccolò Roccatagliata.
The Monastery Library is under the administration of the Institute of High Culture. It houses a fantastic collection of manuscripts and rare books. We recommend taking a guided tour if you want to explore San Giorgio Maggiore. You can book a tour online with veniceXplorer or take part in a tour offered at the reception. The island of San Giorgio Maggiore is perfect for a memorable photo and a must-see place for Venice lovers.
Things to do in the area
The island belongs to San Marco, the city's most famous sestiere. In this neighborhood, you will find the most popular attractions, like Piazza San Marco, St. Mark's Basilica, and the Doge's Palace. There are also a few well-known churches. But the island offers a few exciting sites, too. Check out 10 Vatican chapels located in the forested area and designed by various renowned architects. Don't miss the lovely building of The Fondazione Giorgio Cini and the Labirinto Borges. If you want to learn about the art of 20th and 21st-century glassmaking, visit Le Stanze del Vetro.