I've divided the island churches up by island for the ones with the most churches,
followed by a separate alphabetical sequence for the single ones.
 

The Lido
1. San Nicol˛ di Lido
2. Sant'Antonio
3. Santa Maria Assunta
4. Santa Maria della Vittoria
5. Santa Maria Elisabetta
6. Santa Maria Nascente

Murano
7. San Pietro Martire
8. Santa Chiara
9. Santa Maria degli Angeli
10. Santi Maria e Donato

Burano
11. Le Cappuccine
Santa Maria delle Grazie

12.
San Martino

Torcello
13. Santa Fosca
14. Santa Maria Assunta

Mazzorbo
15. San Michele Arcangelo
16. Santa Caterina

...and the rest
(on islands that bear their names)

17. San Clemente
18. San Francesco del Deserto
19. San Lazzaro degli Armeni
20. San Michele in Isola

San Michele Arcangelo

21. San Servolo
22.
Sant'Erasmo

 

San Nicol˛
Lido
Tommaso Contin/Matteo Cirtoni 1626-29
 


History
The original Benedictine church, dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Myra (the inspiration for Santa Claus), was founded in 1044 and renovated in 1316. The church as you see it today was rebuilt on a different spot, begun by Tommaso Contin in 1626 and finished by Matteo Cirtoni in 1629. (The remains of the old church can be found in the adjacent cloisters.) The church houses the remains of St Nicholas (the patron saint of sailors and children) although some say his remains remain in Bari. Science seems to show that both claims are valid as the whole bones in Bari and the crushed fragments in Venice appear to come from the same skeleton. The story is that the Venetian fleet on its way to Joppa (Jaffa) in 1100 stopped off at Bari in search of the bones of St Nicholas, which had been stolen and taken to Bari from Myra. It is said that the Venetians tortured the four Christian keepers of the shrine, but learned nothing. They decided to make do with the bones of Saint Theodore (Venice's patron saint before St Mark) but then a sweet smell began to emanate from behind the altar, leading them to the bones of St Nicholas, which they then took too.  It is to this church that the doge came during the Festa della Sensa (or Ascension Day Festival) to celebrate the marriage of Venice and the sea by throwing a gold ring into the lagoon. The ceremony continues to this day, with the Mayor standing in for the Doge.

The church
The fašade is unfinished. The monument over the main doorway is to Doge Domenico Contarini, who founded the original church, and dates from the 17th Century.

Interior
Inside it looms, with high grubby/sandy walls with mid-grey architectural detailing. Looking down the aisle to where the gap between the walls narrows behind the high altar this detailing looks somewhat too big and out of scale, but elsewhere it's fine.
An aisleless nave with three communicating side chapels on each side. There's a Baroque high altar with a riot of polychrome marble inlay and a sarcophagus on top, where a pediment should be, housing the remains of Saints Nicholas and Theodore. Wooden choir behind the altar dated 1636 by Giovanni Da Crema and Camillo di San Luca, with panels depicting 27 Episodes from the Life of St Nicholas.

Art highlights
All from 17th/18th Centuries. No big names but a nice and warm fresco
on the inside fašade of Venice Paying Homage to St Nicholas by Girolamo Pellegrini. Another highlight is an attractive Ascension of Christ by Pietro Muttoni, known as Pietro della Vecchia.

The monastery
Founded and renovated at the same time as the church, with a cloister added in the 16th Century. Suppressed in 1770. Occupied in 1938 by the Friars Minor of San Antonio. It stood in for a Brazilian monastery in the James Bond film Moonraker, which was filmed mostly in Venice. Now a study and research centre.

Campanile
Baroque, dating from the rebuilding of 1626-1629.

The church in art
The Doge in the Bucentaur at San Nicolo di Lido on Ascension Day by Guardi (see below) is in the Louvre.


Opening times

map









 
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 












































 

Sant'Antonio
Lido
1936
 



 
 



History
Built in 1936 in a Veneto Byzantine style to echo that of the churches on Torcello. It replaced a tent on the beach that the congregation had used up to then.

Interior
A clean and modern church, inside it's an impressive and bricky tall space redolent of train stations and Westminster Cathedral, with a pleasing lofty light-and-shadow thing going on.


map
 

Santa Maria Assunta
Lido
 



History
Founded in the 15th Century and rebuilt in 1557. The interior is a single nave with a vaulted roof and contains 17th and 18th Century works by Girolamo Forabosco, Lama and Pittoni.

Kept in the sacristy is a carved wooden altarpiece from the early 15th Century, called 'the Palliotto' by Paolo delle Masegne, showing the blessing Christ, Mary ascending to heaven, and 12 saints (see photo below).

map



All three Photos by Brigitte Eckert.
 
 

 





 

 

 


















 

Santa Maria Elisabetta
Lido
 




 
 
History
The Lido's parish church. Built in the mid-16th Century as an oratory and enlarged and converted into a church in 1627, with consecration following in 1671. Much restoration around 1970. The interior has two pairs of side altars and a high altar in a shallow vaulted apse.


Campanile
Late 19th Century.

map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Photo above by Brigitte Eckert.

Santa Maria Nascente
Lido
1932
 


History

A small church attached to the Ospedale al Mare, the Lido's large and dilapidated hospital complex. Built in 1932 to a neo-gothic design by engineer A. Spandri. Panel paintings and frescoes by G. Cherubini.

Interior
A sweet little space, with pale painted walls and nice olde gothic detailing and frescos belying its lack of actual age (see below).


map

 
 





 























 

 

 

 

 



A photo taken in 1932.

The other churches on The Lido



Suore Bianchi
(Suore del Sacro Cuore?)

map
 

Santa Maria della Vittoria
Built 1935-33 to a design by Giuseppe Torres as a memorial to the Italian dead of WWI. AKA the Venice War memorial. The large green dome is one of the first landmarks seen as you approach the Lido vaporetto stop.

map
 

San Pietro Martire
Murano
1511

 


History

The original church and Dominican monastery, dedicated to St John the Baptist, was built from 1363, being consecrated in 1417, thanks to a bequest of 1438 by Marco Michiel. A tablet on the far right of the fašade commemorates this. This church burned down in 1474 and was rebuilt and enlarged, reopening in 1511 and dedicated to St Peter Martyr. The church was closed in 1806, the monastery taken over by the military, and its art moved to the Accademia Gallery. (Following partial demolition the monastery buildings latter became a primary school, then were used for glass art classes, and later was used by the postal service.)  It reopened in 1813 as a parish church due to an initiative by Father Stefano Tosi, with art from other suppressed churches and monasteries on Murano and other islands. At its reopening the church was renamed S. Pietro e Paolo, but reverted to its present name in 1840. The colonnade attached to the west flank of the church (see photo below right) came from the demolished convent of Santa Chiara, being reassembled here in 1924, during the restoration of 1922-28. This period of restoration also saw the the revelation of the original ceiling and the frescos of the saints above the pillars.

Interior
Impressively spacious and tall - a nave and two aisles, which are divided from each other by rows of four arches. The spandrels between the arches are nicely decorated with saints and some attractive lettering (see photo below right), tie beams across the arches and the nave, with a trussed roof. There's a wide and deep half-domed chancel and a pair of apsidal chapels, also wide and deep.


Art highlights
You might read that Giovanni Bellini's Madonna in Glory with eight saints (see right) is in the sacristy here but for the past few years it's been in the Accademia. (Although in the church you'll be told that it's away being restored.) It was originally in the nearby church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

A Bellini which is here is The Madonna with Doge Agostino Barbarigo. This was originally in the Doge's Palace, for which such images were traditionally commissioned by doges, and hence its non-altarpiece-like horizontal format. It was reframed and moved to the high altar of the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in 1501, as Barbarigo had requested in his will, two of his daughters having been nuns there. It came here in 1815 and was just recently returned to this church after years spent in restoration.

Saints Nicholas, Charles Borromeo and Lucy by Palma Giovane, which came from the demolished church of Santi Biagio e Cataldo on Giudecca. A recognisable (early?) Tintoretto of The Baptism Of Jesus, which came from above the high altar of the demolished San Giovanni dei Battuti on Murano. Two by Veronese: St Agatha in Prison Visited by St Peter and an Angel and a better St Jerome in the Desert, originally in the nearby church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. A Virgin and Child with Saints by Giovanni Agostino da Lodi (previously thought to be by Basaiti) came from the demolished San Cristoforo delle Pace. In the left-hand apsidal chapel there's a hard-to-see painting by Domenico (a.k.a. son of) Tintoretto. Covering both side walls of the deep chancel are a pair of huge paintings by Bartolomeo Latteri, including an impressively architectural Nozze di Cana.

The sacristy
There was once a church and scuola of San Giovanni dei Battuti on Murano. Use of the term 'Battuti', or 'the beaten', refers to flagellant orders. The complex was demolished and some panelling, carved by Pietro Morando, was removed from the scuola and installed in the sacristy here in 1815 (see photo below). Paintings from the scuola were installed above the dossals. The sacristy is part of the church's museum in which, for a small fee, you can see some displaced altarpieces, various reliquaries, odd documents and plush vestments.

Lost art
Four works, all now in the Accademia. Firstly an altarpiece made up of a large panel of The Madonna della Misericordia and Saints with three full-length panels of saints, by Andrea di Murano, is in the large room XXIII, converted from the Carita church. Also in this room are two panels, Saints Matthew and John the Baptist, with oddly Egyptian feet, by Alvise Vivarini. The last two works are Veronese's strange Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto, which was originally much larger and positioned to the right of the Rosary altar here, and his (largely workshop) Madonna of the Rosary which was hung opposite it in the same chapel.

Carpaccio's St Thomas Aquinas Altarpiece, now in the Stuttgart Staatsgalerie, was painted for the St Thomas Aquinas altar in the left aisle.



Campanile
Built 1498-1502, the original bells came from England but have been recast many times since, most recently in 1942 after war damage.

Opening times
Monday-Saturday
9.00-12.00, 3.00-6.00
Sunday 3.00-6.00

Vaporetto Faro

map





 

 

 









 

Santa Chiara
Murano
 



'After' photo courtesy of Giuseppe Belluardo


'Before' photo by Brigitte Eckert
 
 
History

There is said to have been a church on this site as early as 1231.  Augustinian monks settled here and, around 1369, Benedictine nuns. Franciscan Sisters of St. Clare were next, and in 1519 started on major renovations. The complex was suppressed in 1826 and converted for use as a glass factory and warehouse by Fratelli Marietti from Milan. In the 1880s the church was bought by the Barone Franchetti who divided it into 2 floors inside. Abandoned since the 1970s, the church was comprehensively collapsing as a rubbish store for the Murano Glass Museum, until 2011 when the Belluardo Family bought it and began considerable renovation work. The photo (left) shows how much better the fašade is looking now, compared to the photo below from a few years ago.

The plan is to re-open the church 'offering an innovative and interactive historic museum/shop', devoted to the art of glassblowing.

Casanova connection
His famous lover, the nun M.M., is said to have lived in Santa Chiara's convent, from which the pair would abscond to the Casin˛ Mocenigo next door.

Lost art
The Madonna of the Orange Tree by Cima da Conegliano, now in the Accademia, was originally hung to the right of the high altar here.



Vaporetto Colonna

map






 

 

Santa Maria degli Angeli
Murano
1498-1529
 


History
An ancient site, re-founded by Giacomina Boncio in 1188 with an adjoining Augustinian convent. Rebuilt 1498-1529, with the help of the Barbarigo family, specifically Agostino, who served as procurator here and was later elected Doge. Much renovation in recent years. The church is approached through a portal over which is an early 16th Century bas-relief of The Annunciation, described as 'graceful' by Ruskin and sometimes claimed to be by pupils of Donatello.

Interior
Consists of an aisleless nave, this church was said to be in a poor state of repair, being propped up in places and having lost its barco. But a recent restoration seems to have worked wonders, as photos taken by a recent (May 2013) visitor show (see below right). Thirty-nine ceiling panels said to be by Pier Maria Pennacchi and Nicolo Rondinelli, an assistant of Giovanni Bellini. Also works by Palma Giovane and Alessandro Vittoria.

Lost art
The lovely Bellini The Madonna with Doge Agostino Barbarigo, now to be found in the church of San Pietro Martire, was bequeathed to be placed over the high altar here. (He also left them 'four wall hangings and a large carpet').  Two of Agostino's daughters were nuns at the convent here and he wished to 'be reassured every time the nuns pray to God for our soul and the souls of members of our family who have departed this life'. He had kept it in his own apartments from its completion in 1488 until his death in 1501.

St Jerome in the Wilderness by Veronese is also now to be found in San Pietro Martire, as is a dark Annunciation by Lazzarini and an Entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem by Diziani. These last two are currently squeezed into the corridor into the church's sacristy and museum.  A Madonna and Child with Saints Jerome and Zachariah by Francesco da Santa Croce is in the church museum there.

An Annunciation, commissioned by the nuns here from Titian was sent by him to Empress Isabella of Spain instead, in 1537. A Tintoretto altarpiece never got here either - when the nuns balked at the artist's asking price of 500 ducats he offered it to Charles V who reputedly paid him 2000 ducats for it.

Lost bodies
Doge Sebastiano Venier, the hero of Lepanto, was buried here, but his remains were later relocated to San Zanipolo.

Casanova connection
One of Casanova's great loves, Caterina Capretta was whisked to the convent here, of which little remains but some walls, when she became pregnant. Her brother had attempted to sell her and/or her virginity to him, but it seems their relationship was a relatively romantic one, although she was one of two women pregnant by Casanova at this time (Spring 1753). Visits and note-passings ensued, with the help of a nun called Laura, who Casanova would meet in San Cancian, until 'C.C.' had a miscarriage. His visits continued and later he would begin having assignations with another, more libertine, nun called M.M. at the nearby convent of Santa Chiara.  He was often to be found at mass in the church here under the eyes of both his mistresses who were, at least according to Casanova, themselves lovers.

Opening times
For mass only, usually, but following recent restoration things are looking hopeful.


Vaporetto
Venier

map




















 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

























 






Interior photos by David Orme

Santi Maria e Donato
Murano
1125-1141
 









 

 

 

 

 

History
Legend has it that this church was built by Otho the Great, to whom the Virgin appeared and told him to build build her a church in, what was then, a three-cornered meadow scattered with scarlet lilies. A document of 999 says that refugees from the mainland founded this church in the 7th Century and dedicated it to the Virgin. The church was rededicated when the body of St Donato, the patron saint of Murano, was brought here from Cephalonia in 1125 by Doge Domenico Michiel, along with the bones of a dragon the saint had slain. This date also seems to be when the church was built in its current form, with the work completed in 1141, a date which is recorded on the mosaic floor. Baroque redecoration followed in the 18th Century and then restoration in 1858-73 returned the church to its previous appearance with major rebuilding of the apse. It was this restoration that Hugh Honour condemned for 'bastardising' the church so that it was neither 12th or 19th Century in appearance but a bad mixture of the two. A lot of this work was reversed during later restoration, especially in the 1970s, leaving the church very much as it would've appeared in the 12th Century.

The church
Naked brick and terracotta. The lovely two-tiered blind arcaded apse (see photo top left) seen across the campo and the canal is usually one's first, jaw-dropping, view of this church. The plain main fašade, around the back to the left, cannot compete.

Interior
Latin-cross with nave separated from aisles by two rows of Greek marble columns with Veneto-Byzantine capitals and brick detailing around the arches and windows. No side chapels. Tall and very bare apart from the damaged frescoes behind the altar and the very gold half dome with the 12th Century mosaic of The Madonna. 15th Century ship's-keel roof. The wonderful polychrome mosaic pavement (see below ) was restored and completely re-laid in the 1970s. The high altar contains the remains of St Donatus. Four bones of the dragon he supposedly slew by spitting at it hang behind the altar.

Art highlights
A 14th Century polyptych of the Dormition of the Virgin over the high altar. The lunette from over the main door, now over the left-hand entrance, of The Virgin and Child with Saints Donatus and John the Baptist, and a donor. An early carved and painted panel of St Donatus, currently (September 2013) being restored.

Campanile

Detached Romanesque 12-13th Century

Opening times
Monday-Saturday 8.30-12.00, 4.00-7.00
Sunday 4.00-6.00

Vaporetto
Museo

map
 

Le Cappuccine
Burano
18th Century
 


History
Built in the 18th century(?) the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (also known as 'Le Cappuccine') is all that's left of a convent complex which was suppressed in 1806.

Vaporetto Burano

map


Ferdinando Ongania
 



San Martino
Burano
16th Century
 

 







 

 

History
Founded 959. The current church dates from 16th Century and has no fašade as its west end abuts onto houses.  Said to be the work of Andrea Tirali, with later enlargements and restorations.

Art highlights
Second bay from the front on the right - Crucifixion of 1719/20 by Tiepolo, an ambitious early work (8 feet by 13) and strongly influenced by the Tintoretto Crucifixion in the Scuola di San Rocco. Also works by Francesco Fontabasso, Giovanni Mansueti, and Girolamo da Santacroce. Some are now in the nearby Oratorio di Santa Barbara.

Campanile
By Tirali too, built 1703-14 and leaning.


Opening times
8.00-12.00, 3.00-7.00


Vaporetto
Burano

map

 

 

 



Photo above by David Orme

 Santa Fosca
Torcello
 


History
Work began in early 11th Century on a church to house the remains of St Fosca, the virgin martyr of Ravenna, and those of St Maura, her nurse and partner in martyrdom. The remains of both had been brought here some time before. Porch added in 12th Century.

The church
A lovely square and bare pale brick space, with streaky and strokable Greek marble columns. It's technically Greek-Cross shaped with clever embellishments to its shape. The stoutness of the supports suggests that a cupola was planned for the roof, not the existing timber roof. The remains of the Saint are on display in an illuminated case under the altar. On the exterior is an early 15th Century bas-relief St Fosca Being Worshipped by her Confreres (see right).

Vaporetto Torcello

map
 

 

 

 






Photo by Brigitte Eckert


 

 







































 


This old postcard shows Santa Maria Assunta on the left,
with Santa Fosca on the right.

 

Santa Maria Assunta
Torcello
1008
 







This photo by Brigitte Eckert

 


History
First church erected 639 and expanded in 824. Given current form and campanile around 1008. Mosaic pavement, mosaics on walls and other decoration added in the 15th Century. Restored in 1423, and again in 1646 following lightning damage to church and campanile. A bequest by Emperor Francis I of Austria allowed repairs in 1821 and 1827. The 19th Century restorer of the mosaics, Giovanni Moro, did such poor work that he was tried and convicted for it. In 1929-39 restoration back to the church's original appearance saw the removal of later-added baroque elements. Despite this method supposedly returning the church to it's original state it results here in a church presenting us with work spanning five or six hundred years.

The church
The ruined circular building in front was a baptistery (see below left), part of the original 7th Century building. The porch, or narthex, dates from the second rebuilding.

Interior
Large, Byzantine and basilical with a jazzy marble mosaic floor, divided into an unequal nave and two aisles. The altar table is made from fragments of the original, reinstalled after the removal of the baroque replacement in the 1929-39 restoration. Underneath are remains of St Heliodorus, first Bishop of Altino and a friend of St Jerome, brought here in 635. There's an iconostasis (icon screen) dividing the chancel from the nave, with an old (and looking it) crucifix on it. A frieze stretches across the screen's whole width of images of the Virgin and Child with twelve apostles. The semi-dome of the apse has a 13th Century mosaic of the Madonna and Child in a field of gold, with a frieze of apostles below and an Annunciation above.

The back wall is one huge and amazing mosaic containing the Crucifixion and the Harrowing of Hell.

Campanile
11th Century and 55 metres high. Can now be climbed, following restoration after 30 years use as a pigeon loft. Having climbed it herself George Sand wrote of 'le silence inconceptuelle de la nature'. The nearby small oratory to St Mark is said to have been his body's first resting place on its way from Alexandria in 829.

Opening times
April-October 10.30-5.30
November-March 10.00-4.30
5 Euro entrance fee
Update 2013 The campanile remains closed due to 'instability', and covered in scaffolding, as it has been for a few years now.

Vaporetto Torcello


map



 

San Michele Arcangelo
Mazzorbo
 



Photo by Brigitte Eckert
 
 
History
There was an old church of this name hereabouts, but this is a pretty modern cemetery chapel.

map

Santa Caterina
Mazzorbo
14th Century
 


History
Between the 7th and 17th Centuries four monasteries and five churches were built on the island of Mazzorbo, of which only this one church remains. The original church dates back to 783 and the founding of a Benedictine nunnery. The current building is 14th Century Romanesque-gothic, restored in the 16th Century. Suppressed in 1806. Further restoration took place in 1922-25. 'Heavy-handed' is the phrase used by my guide book to describe this latter restoration.

The church
There's a marble relief of 1368 of The Marriage of St Catherine over the door and a painting of The Baptism of St Catherine and St Mary Magdalene by Giuseppe Salviati over the high altar. There is a barco (nun's gallery) and a ship's-keel roof.

Lost art
Veronese's Santa Caterina di Mazzorbo altarpiece (see below) is now in the Palatine Gallery in the Pitti Palace in Florence.

Campanile
1318. Has a small dome and a very old bell, also dated 1318.


Bibliography
There's a book about the church by
Marco Molin, Edition Quaderni Torcellani, published in 2010 and for sale for Ç10 in the church and at bookshops in Venice.

Opening times Friday-Sunday 11.00-1.00, 2.00-5.00

map



 

 



























Photo above by Brigitte Eckert


Photo by David Orme
 

San Clemente
Late 15th Century
 

History
The Island had long been used to house pilgrims when in 1432 it was given to the canons of the Santa Maria della CaritÓ monastery in Venice. The church, which had been built in the Romanesque style in 1131-60 was enlarged in the late 15th Century. In 1630 the island had temporarily been a hospital for plague victims. In 1642 it was bought by the Camaldolite congregation of Monte Rua, who rebuilt the church from 1653-1750. This work has been attributed to Andrea Cominelli in the pay of Bernardo Morosini. The fašade of 1488 was restored at this time but kept its Codussi-influenced appearance. Bust of Francesco and Tommaso Morosini, who funded the rebuilding, are to be found on the fašade and inside.

The monastery was closed by Napoleon and initially put to military use, before most of the monastery complex was demolished. Since then the island has housed a lunatic asylum (from 1844 until 1992, and initially for women only) and a cat sanctuary. A large complex was built 1858-73, most of which remain. It's now a luxury hotel, looking like a big pink hospital, and the windows in these photos of the asylum in 1979 look the same as the windows of the hotel. The photographer of the asylum in 1979, Raymond Depardon, also produced a book and a film of the San Clemente asylum.

Art highlights
My most recent guidebook says that paintings by such 17th Century artists as Marieschi, Zanchi, Trevisani and Marchetti are being kept in storerooms awaiting replacement. The hotel website merely says 'only a few canvases survive'. There is a painted ceiling in the apse (see photo below right). There is no altar, as such, but a baroque version of the Santa Casa (holy House) di Loretto from 1646 (see photo right).

Lost art
Statues of Faith and Hope, stolen from here, can be seen in the Sant'Apollonia Diocese Museum. They were dragged along the seabed wrapped in tyres, we're told, and the resulting marks can still be seen on them.

Opening times
A private boat for the hotel, which anyone can use, departs every 20 minutes from  just in front of the Zecca (look for the sign saying Hotel San Clemente Palace).  They ask no questions, I'm told, and the church is always open.


map














 

Both of the black and white photos were taken in 1937
 

 


















 




















These three photos by Albert Hickson
 

San Francesco del Deserto
1228-33
 







Photographs above and right of (almost) the
campanile
by Kim Hart
 
 
History
Tradition says that St Francis himself stopped here in 1219-20 on his return from Egypt and preached to the birds, a miracle recorded by Giotto in the frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. An old pine tree here was said to have sprouted from his walking stick planted in the ground here too. (The tree is said to have died naturally in 1701, with bits of it preserved in the church here until at least 1970.)

The first church here was built from 1228-33, the island having been given to Franciscans by patrician Jacopo Michiel. The complex was expanded at the end of the 13th Century and restored (with a cloister added) in 1453. The monks deserted the island because of a malaria outbreak in the 15th Century (hence the del Deserto in the name) and some more were forced off the island by the Napoleonic army in the early 19th Century, but they returned both times. Major unsympathetic restoration 1921-23, with some reportedly better work in 1962. Not sure when the window removal evident in the comparison of the old and new photos (left) took place - the top photo dates from the 1930s, I think, so presumably the removal happened during the later restoration.

The convent in literature
In Pandora's Galley by Macdonald Harris the central character takes refuge here and spends time conversing with Fra Mauro, the renowned mathematician and cartographer monk, who actually lived in the monastery of San Michele.

Opening times
Tuesday-Saturday 9.00-11.00, 3.00-5.00 Sunday 3.00-5.00
The island is accessible only by private boat.
Admission by voluntary donation.

Update April 2010: You can get to the island by calling a very nice man called Massimiliano on 347 9922959. He has a colourful boat that leaves from Burano and it costs Ç10 per person. It is advised to call ahead and book with the Friar. Call Friar Roberto on 041 528 6863. They are much more receptive to guests who have booked, I'm told. Thanks to Kim for the info.

map












 

San Lazzaro degli Armeni
1750
 


History
This island had provided shelter for pilgrims since the 12th Century and since many of them had leprosy it was decided to build a hospital here. In Venetian dialect leprosy is 'mal di San Lazzarro' after Lazarus, the beggar who was also a leper. After the lepers were moved out, around 1500, to the new Ospedale di San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti at San Zanipolo, the island was uninhabited for several centuries. In 1717 the island was given to an Armenian monk called Manouk Bedrosian, also known as Padre Mekhitar. He and his 17 monks (known as the Mekhitarist Fathers) restored the existing church and built the monastic complex we see today, which was completed around 1750. There is a library here, a printing press, an archaeological museum and an art gallery - all devoted to Armenian culture and art. The monastery was the only one in Venice to escape closure by Napoleon - he favoured the Armenians and claimed that this was an educational, not religious, institution.

The library was much visited by Byron - he rowed out three times a week during his visit of 1816/17 - to study Armenian and help with an English-Armenian grammar. A small room off the library contains memorabilia of his visits. The church was rebuilt after a fire in 1883.

The church
An 18th Century cloister provides access to the church. There are paintings by Francesco Maggiotto, Francesco Zugno, and Pietro Novelli. More art in the monastic buildings, including Giambattista Tiepolo, Sebastiano Ricci, Canaletto and Jacopo Bassano.

The monastery in literature
The premise of  A Mapmaker's dream: The meditations of Fra Mauro, cartographer to the court of Venice by James Cowan is that the story told in the novel is a true one, with the manuscript having been found by a scholar researching the life of Byron in the library of San Lazzaro.

Opening times
Guided tours 3.20-5.00 daily.
Take the 3.10pm vaporetto (line no. 20) from San Zaccaria which is met by the priest who conducts the 75 minute tours of the complex. The admission fee is Ç6.

map
 
 





Photos by Brigitte Eckert
 

San Michele in Isola
Mauro Codussi 1469-78
 


History
The original church was founded in the 10th Century and dedicated to to the Archangel Michael. A monastery was built too and housed monks of the Camaldolite order from 1212 to 1818. Amongst the monks who lived here were famed cartographer Fra Mauro, and Fra Mario Capellari, who became Pope Gregory XVI. (The crater Fra Mauro and the Fra Mauro formation of the Moon were named after the monk.) The church was enlarged and consecrated in 1221.

Rebuilt in its current form 1469-78 by Mauro Codussi, this was his first building in Venice and Venice's first church in the Renaissance style. The design of the fašade and its use of Istrian stone solely was very influential on Venetian church architecture.

The hexagonal Cappella Emiliana (see photo right) to the left of the fašade was funded by the will of Margherita Vitturi, the widow of Giovanni Emiliani. (Thomas Coryate in his Crudities of 1608 describes Margherita as a 'rich courtesan' who 'hoped to make expiation unto God by this holy deed for the lascivious dalliances of her youth'.) It was built 1529 to c.1535 by Guglielmo dei Grigi and repaired by Sansovino in 1560-62. The gothic doorway to the right of the fašade leads to a 15th Century cloister (see photo below).

In 1810 the canal which divided the islands of San Michele and San Cristoforo was filled in to create a cemetery, and the monastery passed to the Friars Minor Riformati.

Interior
Restrained with flat coffered ceiling and a gallery (see photo right.) Modest monument inside vestibule (with his ashes) to Paolo Sarpi. Also monument to Andrea Loredan, a benefactor, in the chancel.

Campanile 40m (130ft) electromechanical bells
Built in 1460, an unusually complex design with brick relief decoration and a dome with a stone pinnacle.

Lost art
A lot of Bellinis passed this way! His Priuli Triptych was painted for the Chapel of the Cross here, built for Pietro Priuli. It's now in the Kunstsammlungen der Stadt in DŘsseldorf. A Resurrection by him, now in the Gemńldegalerie in Berlin, was painted for the Zorzi chapel here in 1476. And his Madonna with Doge Agostino Barbarigo was moved here from the Doge's Palace in 1501 - it's now in San Pietro Martire on Murano.

A Virgin and Child with Saints (the Bold¨ altarpiece) painted by Cima de Conegliano for the Bold¨ chapel here is now in the Berlin Staatliche Museen.

The island in art
The Island of San Michele by Francesco Guardi (see below).



The monastery in literature
 A Mapmaker's dream by James Cowan is a novel about Fra Mauro and the creation of his map of the world.



Opening times 7.30-12.15, 3.00-4.00


Vaporetto Cimetero

map


 



 

 





These two taken by Brigitte Eckert 

San Servolo
Giovanni Scalfarotto 1734-49
 



Photos by Brigitte Eckert








 

 
History
The island was inhabited from 810 by Benedictine monks, then Benedictine nuns until 1616, when some nuns who'd been chased from Crete by the Turks took possession. Then in 1725 it was converted into a hospital for soldiers by the San Giovanni di Dio Hospitaler Friars. It later became a psychiatric hospital (or an 'asylum for the insane' as an older guidebook puts it) which closed in 1978. There was considerable rebuilding in 1936. The complex currently houses a centre for training in architectural conservation, Venice International University, and, since 2006, the Psychiatric Hospital Museum of San Servolo.

A church was consecrated in 1470. From 1733-66 the current church and convent buildings were built, to designs by Giovanni Scalfarotto, with the church being the work of his master, Tommaso Temanza. In 1761 Jacopo Marieschi painted the ceiling of the nave with The Glory of San Giovanni di Dio before the Virgin Mary and that of  the presbytery with The Three Theological Virtues. In 1810 a Nacchini organ was acquired from the suppressed church of Santa Maria del Pianto.

Campanile
Completed on the 15th of September 1456 according to a plaque.

The asylum in literature
In Shelley's poem Julian and Maddalo he commemorates a visit he made with Byron to San Servolo to visit a man driven mad by disappointment and a lover's abandonment. The place is described as a windowless, deformed and dreary pile. San Servolo was also the setting for Jeannette Wintersonĺs 1987 novel The Passion.


Vaporetto San Servolo (line no. 20 from San Zaccaria)

Opening times
Guided tours: details here and the island has a website as does the Psychiatric Hospital Museum.

map

 

Sant'Erasmo
1929
 


History
The original church of Sant'Erasmo, which was built in ???? at the southern end of the island, was altered first in the 16th and then in the 18th century. A drawing by Giacomo Guardi in the Museo Correr Library shows a church with two rectangular facades and a bell-tower similar to of Sant'Alvise. That church was demolished by Napoleon. The present church, built in the middle of the island, was opened in 1929.

map


 

























Photos by Brigitte Eckert




Home

Cannaregio :: Castello :: Dorsoduro :: Giudecca :: San Marco :: San Polo :: Santa Croce :: The Islands :: Demolished