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San Giorgio Maggiore

Palladio's lagoon landmark

S. Giorgio Maggiore at Night

The church of San Giorgio Maggiore, the most prominent landmark across the Bacino San Marco from the Piazza San Marco, has been home to a Benedictine monastery since 982. After receiving the head of St George (sold to Venice for 100 ducats in 1462 by the Greek island of Aegina), a major restoration project was undertaken in the 16th and 17th centuries, endowing it with its present buildings by Palladio and Longhena to create a major Late Renaissance and Baroque architectural showcase.

All fell into decline in the 19th century, when Napoleon suppressed the monastery and confiscated its property and artworks; in compensation, with a keen sense of the absurd, he made the itty-bitty island a free port (you can still see its twin Lilliputian lighthouses designed by a professor of architecture for the occasion).

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Top Sights

High Renaissance


Lagoon and islands


Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by O Palsson