Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo is the biggest church in the city, and it's also one of the most important churches. The Venetians call it San Zanipolo. Located in the Castello sestiere, it stands on Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo. The church is less than 10 minutes from the Rialto Bridge.
It has a unique atmosphere of authentic Venice, unlike some other touristic places in the city. Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo is vast - its interior is more than 100 meters long. There are 150 tombstones, 37 monumental sepulchers, and valuable works of Italy's most notable artists. Take your time to explore this majestic place.
The history of the church
Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo is the Dominican church of Venice. Historically, it has a connection with the Serenissima Republic. The church is named after John and Paul, martyrs of the Early Christian church in Rome.
In 1246, Doge Jacopo Tiepolo had a vision. He then donated the land to the Dominicans, who built the church, only to demolish it in 1333. And that's when the construction of the current church began. The workers completed it on November 12, 1430. Since 1891 it has already undergone 90 restorations.
What's unique about it?
The Basilica is the resting place for 25 Doges of the Serenissima from the 15th to 18th century. One of the museum's treasures is Madonna della Pace, located in its own chapel. There's also another valuable relic - a foot of Saint Catherine of Siena.
In the church, you'll see works of famous Italian artists, such as Bellini, Cima da Conegliano, Palma il Giovane, and Vivarini e Veronese. There you can also see the tombstones of Giovanni e Gentile Bellini or the Bandiera brothers.
Architecture and design
With its 55-m high dome, the Basilica stands out on Venice's skyline. You'll be in awe of the stunning central rose window and impressive gothic stained-glass windows, the biggest in Venice. There's also a bell tower with three bells in D major, which are an essential part of the whole experience.
Attractions near the church
Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo is one of the most important locations on the Venice map. Next to the church, you'll find a few other sites worth seeing. One of them is the 4-meter-long Statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, a Venice warlord.
It's impossible not to notice the Scuola Grande di San Marco, a former Convent that now works as a hospital. It's also home to the Apothecary Shop, a historical pharmacy. The building will fascinate you with a mix of renaissance and byzantine styles.
Don't miss out on visiting this terrific site. The Basilica offers holy masses (with the timetable available on the website) or exclusive tours for single visitors and groups.
Monday to Saturday - 9am–6pm Sunday - 12–6pm