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Venezia: Santa Maria della Salute

There are some 120 churches in historic Venice, or roughly one for every 500 people. Before Napoleon went on a church-and monastery-demolishing spree, there were even more. The survivors are one of the joys of visiting the city, with some of Venice's greatest works of art still displayed exactly where they were meant to be seen.

One of the oldest is the city's first cathedral, Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta on the island of Torcello. Others claim foundations that go back to St Magnus (or Magno), a 7th-century bishop of Oderzo who founded Santa Maria Formosa, Santa Giustina, San Salvatore, Santi Apostoli, San Pietro di Castello (another far-flung cathedral of Venice, for much of its history) San Giovanni in Brágora, San Zaccaria, and Angelo Raffaele.

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Angelo Raffaele

A rare church for a lesser known angel

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta

Venice's First Cathedral


or Santa Maria del Carmelo

Chorus Association

Association of Venice's churches


Venice's second best church

Gesuati (Santa Maria del Rosario)

A Rococo masterpiece


Baroque bling


Former syphilis hospital and church, now the Fine Arts Accademy

Madonna dell'Orto

The most beautiful Gothic church in Venice

Misericordia church and its Scuole

Also known as Santa Maria di Valverde

Oratorio dei Crociferi

With paintings by Palma Giovane


Baroque gone bad

La Pietà

Vivaldi's church and museum


Palladio's most harmonious church

San Barnaba and its Campo

Once the vortex of ruined nobles

San Bartolomeo

Venice's German church

San Basso

Today a concert hall

San Beneto

Otherwise known as San Benedetto

San Biagio

The Church of the Arsenale

San Canciano (San Canzian)

Simple and pink

San Cassiano and its campo

And the world's first public opera house

San Fantin

Secretive Renaissance Church

San Felice

Where a future pope was baptised

San Francesco del Deserto

The garden island of St Francis

San Francesco della Vigna

Mathematical geometry and a gorgeous Madonna

San Francesco di Paola

The church with the painted clock

San Geremia e Santa Lucia

Last resting place of St Lucy

San Giacometto (San Giacomo di Rialto)

Now the Museo della Musica

San Giacomo dall'Orio

A Venetian curiosity shop of a church

San Giobbe

The church of Job

San Giorgio dei Greci

St George of the Greeks

San Giorgio Maggiore

Palladio's lagoon landmark

San Giovanni Crisostomo

A pocket-sized Renaissance gem

San Giovanni di Malta

Church of the Knights

San Giovanni Elemosinario

Near the Rialto market, but hard to find

San Giovanni Evangelista

Waiting for a New Role

San Giovanni in Brágora

Vivaldi’s baptismal church

San Girolamo

St Jerome's long suffering church

San Giuseppe di Castello

A modest convent church

San Lazzaro degli Armeni

Venice's Armenian island

San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti

Now part of the city hospital

San Leonardo

Not the luckiest church in Venice

San Lio

Canaletto's last resting place

San Lorenzo

Last resting place of Marco Polo

San Luca

The church of Mozart's librettist

San Marcuola

The unfinished facade on the Grand Canal

San Martino

The church of the Ship Caulkers

San Martino (Burano)

With a wonderful wonky tower

San Marziale

also known as San Marzilian

San Maurizio

Now a Museum of Music

San Michele in Isola

The island of the dead

San Moisè

Frosting in stone

San Nicolo dei Mendicoli

The 'Don't Look Now' church

San Nicolò al Lido

The bones of Santa Claus

San Nicolò da Tolentino

Serene outside, but full of bling within

San Pantalon and around

The church with the extraordinary ceiling

San Pietro di Castello

Venice's cathedral for 800 years

San Pietro Martire

Murano’s arty church and museum

San Polo

Starring Tintoretto, GB and GD Tiepolo

San Rocco

The church of the famous Scuola Grande

San Salvador

A Renaissance gem with a famous treasure

San Samuele

Casanova's church

San Sebastiano

Veronese's church

San Silvestro

A relatively modern church for Venice

San Simeone Piccolo

That curious green dome by the station

San Simeone Profeta (or Grande)

And Venice’s Sweeney Todd

San Stae

Or Sant' Eustachio

San Tomà and its Campo

And the school of shoemakers, too

San Trovaso and its Campo

And a gondola boatyard, too

San Vidal (Vitale)

Carpaccio and Vivaldi concerts

San Zaccaria and its Campo

Venice's High Society church

San Zan Degolà

St John the Beheaded

San Zulian

The church of the proud scholar

Sant' Alvise

Perhaps the loneliest church in Venice

Sant' Anna

Home of Venice's angry nun, Elena Arcangela Tarabotti

Sant' Antonin

Pigs and an elephant

Sant' Antonio

A Mussolini-era church on the Lido

Sant' Aponal

The church of marriage records

Sant' Elena

The last church in Venice

Sant' Eufemia

Giudecca's oldest church

Santa Caterina

Now a school

Santa Chiara

A museum shop of glass

Santa Fosca

Santa Fosca II

Santa Fosca (Torcello)

Torcello's other church

Santa Giustina

St Magno's now deconsecrated church

Santa Maria Assunta

The parish church of Malamocco

Santa Maria degli Angeli

Murano's once famous convent

Santa Maria dei Miracoli

Renaissance jewel

Santa Maria dei Servi

Only the Cappella dei Lucchesi survives

Santa Maria del Giglio (Zobenigo)

'Insolent atheism'

Santa Maria del Redentore

Not a show off like some

Santa Maria del Soccorso

Church founded by Veronica Franco

Santa Maria della Fava

St Mary of the Broad bean

Santa Maria della Salute

Longhena's masterpiece

Santa Maria della Visitazione

also known as San Gerolamo dei Gesuati

Santa Maria delle Penitenti

Former refuge for fallen women

Santa Maria e San Donato

Murano's Veneto-Byzantine gem

Santa Maria Elisabetta

The Lido's parish church

Santa Maria Formosa

Buxom St Mary's

Santa Maria Maddalena

A curious little neoclassical church

Santa Maria Materdomini

Prettier inside than out

Santa Sofia

Tucked behind the houses

Santi Apostoli

And its Renaissance Corner chapel

Santi Cosma e Damiano

Now home to the Luigi Nono Archives

Santi Giovanni e Paolo

Venice's Pantheon

Santo Stefano (San Stin)

Venice's most reconsecrated church


Spooky church next to the train station

Scuola dell'Angelo Custode

A Lutheran Guardian Angel

Spirito Santo (church)

Always closed church of the Holy Ghost

St George

Venice's Anglican church

Le Terese (Santa Teresa)

Square and closed


Palladio's church for spinsters

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Jorge Franganillo