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Chiesa di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

Chiesa di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (22)

This brickwork Gothic basilica situated in San Polo is the largest church in the city. Built at the initiative of a community of Franciscans that had settled in Venice at the beginning of the 13th century, the works of the original temple, which used land donated by the Doge of the time, Jacopo Tiepolo, began around 1250.

After several enlargements, during which the friars also had a monastery built, in the 15th century the first church was demolished and this enormous basilica was built. Its monumental characteristics are summed up in its massive campanile of 80 metres height, only surpassed by that of the Piazza San Marco.

The adjoining monastery has, apart from the clear religious implications, an important role in the memory of the city, since it has kept the State archives since 1815, in which, through several million volumes, the glorious history of the Serenissima Republic of Venice is recorded. This structure has two central cloisters, that of the Holy Trinity and that of Saint Anthony, which is attributed to the Sansovino school.

The temple is, however, more well-known since its interior, decorated with exquisite works of art, is a veritable pantheon dedicated to the most illustrious figures of Venice, such as the composer Claudio Monteverdi, who is buried here. 

Perhaps The Assumption, by Titian, is the most important work kept in the church, although, for example, in the chapel alongside the main altar there is a statue by Donatello representing Saint John the Baptist. Other works you should not miss are the Retable of Ca’Pesaro, by Titian again, the triptych by Giovanni Bellini in the Pesaro Chapel and the beautiful choir entrance, sculpted with great skill by Pietro Lombardo and Bartolomeo Bon.

As regards the funerary monuments, those of the Doge Francesco Foscari and the one dedicated to Titian stand out, although without doubt the most spectacular is the marble pyramid sculpted in 1822 by students of Antonio Canova to house the sepulchre of their master. Curiously, they used a design that Canova had planned for a monument in honour of Titian. 

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