Venice – South Islands – San Giorgio Maggiore, Giudecca

Venice – South Islands

Part of the lagoon south of the city, bounded by the long islands of Lido and Pellestrina, it has fewer residential areas than its northern counterpart. Once you set sail beyond Giudecca and San Giorgio Maggiore, which actually belong to central Venice, and a number of small islands off the central part of Lido, and you will look towards the mainland, you may get an impression at times, that you are on the high seas. The closer islands are quite interesting, while the more southern settlements have played an equally important role in the history of Venice, like the more famous islands in the north, but today they offer the tourist nothing, except for the possibility of a pleasant voyage back and forth.

San Giorgio Maggiore

Designed by Palladia San Giorgio Maggiore (codz. 10.00-12.30 i 14.30-16.30) towers over the entire island, so that it is imperative that everyone forms an opinion about its architecture. Ruskin did not like the church; “It's hard to imagine a more crude and barbaric project, more childish idea, more slave plagiarism, a structure more tasteless and in every rational sense more contemptible”. However, Palladio's successors had a much better impression and San Giorgio turned out to be one of the most influential examples of Renaissance church architecture.

Perfectly balanced proportions and the severity of the decor typical of the Counter-Reformation made Ruskin think of a comparison with a meeting room. According to him, it was worth entering the church only because of the paintings. Two canvases by Tintoretto hang in the presbytery, created in the last years of the artist's life (1592-94) and planned as a couple: The sending of the manna and perhaps the most famous of all his works, last Supper. Another Tintoretto painting from the same period. The Descent from the Cross, located in Capella dei Morti (the door to the right of the choir).

The corridor on the left side of the choir leads to the belfry, which is one of the two best viewpoints in the city (the other is the tower in San Marco square). The belfry is a reconstruction of the tower, which collapsed in a year 1791.

The former Benedictine monastery adjacent to the church, to obecnie siedziba Giorgio Cini Foundation (merger of an art research institute, craft school and maritime school), is one of the architectural gems of Venice. You can admire here designed in the year 1494 by Giovanni Buora, long on 128 meters sleeping room, a double staircase and the Longheny library, the magnificent Palladia refectory and two cloisters, one designed by Giovanni Buora and made by his son, and the other by Palladio. Exhibitions are held regularly in Fondazione, and in other periods, the monastery can be visited by making an appointment with the curator by phone (• 5289900), who needs to be convinced of his interest in Palladian architecture.


In the earliest Venetian documents, Giudecca was called Spina Longa, what related to its shape. The current name of the island comes either from the Jews who have lived here since the end of the 13th century (Jews), or from rebellious noble families that have been removed to this and neighboring islands since the ninth century (giudicati means' judged”). Before the banks of the Brenta became a prestigious place for the construction of summer houses, during the early Renaissance, the richest Venetian aristocrats built their villas on Giudecca and at some points you can still see the remains of their gardens. Nowadays, the suburb is an unusual amalgamation of decline and vitality. On the south coast, small boat factories and fishing piers are adjacent to half-abandoned factories and roofless barracks, and from the city side, they contrast with each other to the west, built in the year 1895 and now the abandoned mighty neo-gothic mill Mulino Stucky and the most expensive hotel in Venice standing at the eastern end of the island, Cipriani.

Designed by Palladia on a yearly basis 1577 Redentore Franciscan Church (codz. 7.30-12.00 i 15.30-19.00) is the main monument on the island. In years 1575-76 a plague was raging in Venice, which took life 50 thousand inhabitants (almost a third of the city's population). Redentore was built in gratitude to God for saving the city from destruction and every year, until the fall of the Republic, on the Redentore holiday, the Doge and his senators participated in a thanksgiving mass in this church. The procession from Zattere was then crossing the pontoon bridge to the church, and today this tradition is continued by the people of Venice every year on the third Sunday of July.
The current state of Redentore makes it a bit difficult to see its architectural subtleties: the plaster is old, numerous statues with halo and other accessories seem to be overcrowded, and access to all parts of the church, outside the nave, it is bounded by ropes. The best images, Madonna with Child and Alvise Vivarini's angels, are in the sacristy, where there is also a gallery of 18th-century wax casts of eminent Franciscan heads, placed in glass cases around the room.

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