Santa Maria Maddalena is one of the unusual Venice churches, thanks to its circular shape. The Venetians call it La Maddalena, and it's a lovely simpler church. The art inside and its proximity to some of the finest Venice museums make it a desirable attraction.
Getting to the church
If you check our Venice map, you'll find Santa Maria Maddalena in Cannaregio. The church stands on Campo Maddalena in one of the city's busiest areas. As Venice is the city of water, you can get to the church by vaporetto. The closest stop, less than 5 minutes away, is S. Marcuola Casino. It is where you'll find the well-known Casino di Venezia.
History & architecture
The existence of Santa Maria Maddalena goes back to 1222. At the time, the Balbo family owned the church. In the 14th century, the Venetian Senate created a public holiday for Mary Magdalene's feast. The church had to expand, and a watchtower became a bell tower. In the early 18th century, the priest Francesco Riccardi restored the church. And already in 1780, Tommaso Temanza planned its complete reconstruction. He couldn't finish his work, so in 1790 Gian Antonio Selva completed it.
In 1888, the bell tower became unsafe and was demolished. Today, Santa Maria Maddalena is a perfect example of the neoclassical style. Compared with some other Venice churches, its decor is simple but stunningly elegant. The circular shape of the church takes inspiration from the Pantheon in Rome. Yet, when you enter the church, you'll find that the plan is, in fact, hexagonal. The church has six chapels and a notable portal with Masonic symbols above the door.
Inside the church
Although Santa Maria Maddalena isn't large, some valuable art is inside. One noteworthy piece is the 15th-century bas-relief of the Madonna with Child. There are also many 18th-century paintings, most created by followers of the Piazzetta. While strolling around, you will notice The Sacrifice of Isaac and The Apparition of the Virgin to San Simone Stock by Giuseppe Angeli. You also can't miss Giandomenico Tiepolo and his Last Supper and a fresco depicting The Faith. The last one was discovered in 2005 when some restoration works occurred at Santa Maria Maddalena.
Things to do in the area
The location of Santa Maria Maddalena on the Venice map is superb. It's especially great if you want to taste Venetian art and culture. One of the best-known attractions of Venice is the Jewish Ghetto. It was the first ghetto in Europe. Today you can visit the Jewish Museum to learn all about Venetian Jews. You can also stop at nearby Venice churches, such as I Gesuiti, Madonna dell'Orto, and Sant'Alvise. This part of Cannaregio has fantastic bridges over the canal, like the Guglie Bridge. It is an ideal spot for a memorable photo. What about some Venice museums? Across the canal, you can see Ca Pesaro and the Oriental Art Museum. You can also visit Ca Mocenigo and the Natural History Museum.