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Chiesa del Redentore

Chiesa del Redentore (47)

The moment you stand before the church of the Redeemer, you will realise that you are before one of those places where you can feel something really special. And not only because it is one of the masterpieces of its creator, the architect Andrea Palladio, but also because its construction is intimately linked to the history of the city.

This monumental temple on the island of La Giudecca was built as from 1577, fulfilling the promise made a year previously by the Senate of the Republic to build it if the end came of the terrible epidemic of plague that broke out in Venice and which had claimed more than one third of the population of Venice.

The works, which were carried out until 1592, were supervised initially by Palladio himself, but on his death in 1580 it was Antonio da Ponte who took over. The point on which the church is located was chosen because it can be seen from all the banks of the San Marco canal, while the choice of Palladio as architect was surely down to the fact that he had already shown his skills around La Giudecca with the design of San Giorgio Maggiore.

When you see the church for the first time, perhaps the first thing that you notice are clear echoes of the classical past, since the harmony and perfection given off by the lines clearly recall the Roman temples. Its white marble façade, on which several tympanums cross, is one of the most inspired examples of Palladio’s mastery.

The interior, of a classical rigour unequalled in Venice and bathed by a beautiful light, reveals to us a single rectangular nave and a brilliant transept made up of three apses that connect with the central cupola. Two cylindrical bell towers lead off from the intersection of the apses and end in conical form which, seen from a distance, rise up as if they were minarets. The central nave is bordered by a series of lovely chapels that connect with each other.

The decoration includes statues from the workshop of Josse le Court as well as some pictorial works by painters such as Domenico Tintoretto, Palma the Younger, Alvise Vivarini and Francesco Bassano. However, the most valuable works are considered to be those in the sacristy situated to the right of the main altar. There you will be able to appreciate, among other sublime examples of Venetian painting, the Baptism of Christ by Veronés.

Finally, of interest is the fact that church is still linked to the historic events that led to its construction, since every year the Festa del Redentore is held here to commemorate the victory over the plague of 1576. On the third Sunday of July an impressive “bridge” of boats is formed from Zattere to La Giudecca, and the people, recalling what the doge and his solemn entourage did in the past, cross it from boat to boat as far as the Chiesa del Redentore. Among applause, toasts with prosecco and cries of joy, the Venetians celebrate the day with a stunning firework display. 

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