Chiesa dei Gesuiti

A jewel of the Venetian Baroque

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
Chiesa dei Gesuiti, a jewel of the Venetian Baroque (VE) — Veneto Secrets

One of the most spectacular temples in Venice, the church of Santa Maria Assunta, known as the Jesuit church, is a Baroque jewel, famous for its green and white marble decorations, an incredible optical illusion imitating precious damask fabrics and altar carpets.

Located in a “hidden” area of Venice, in Campo dei Gesuiti, near Fondamenta Nuove, the first construction of the spectacular Church of Santa Maria Assunta dates back to 1148 by the Cruciferi. Destroyed several times by various fires, it was finally sold, together with the adjoining convent, to the Jesuits who, in 1715, decided to tear it down to build a larger one.

The current church, therefore, dates back to the early 1700s and was built, thanks to funding from the Manin family, in the Baroque style in vogue at the time and consecrated in 1728. The architect Domenico Rossi was chosen to direct the works, who also coordinated all the artists and workers who contributed to the monument.

Chiesa dei Gesuiti, a jewel of the Venetian Baroque (VE) — Veneto Secrets
Chiesa dei Gesuiti, a jewel of the Venetian Baroque (VE) — Veneto Secrets

Sufficit sola fide, faith is all that is needed.

(Motto inscribed on the altar of the Church)

The church, recently restored, is famous among lovers of beauty from all over the world for its decorations in white and green marble which imitate the silk and velvet fabrics fashionable in Venice at the time, characterized by lively floral patterns, enveloping the spectator in a perspective vortex of great scenic impact.

Wonderful, along the left aisle, the pulpit, by the sculptor Francesco Bonazza, in white and green stone sculpted in soft drapes, and the geometric patterned floor that guides the eye towards the spectacular altar, designed by the Carmelite friar Giuseppe Pozzo. Surmounted by a large canopy with a dome, the original architecture is supported by ten twisted columns of green marble which guard the precious tabernacle studded with lapis lazuli.

Chiesa dei Gesuiti, a jewel of the Venetian Baroque (VE) — Veneto Secrets

Inside the Church, we also find other treasures, such as the Martyrdom of San Lorenzo by Titian, one of the most beautiful nocturnes in the history of art, the Assumption of the Virgin by Tintoretto, as well as various works by Palma il Giovane and Cima da Conegliano and the tomb of the Da Lezze family by Jacopo Sansovino.

And after a visit to the Church, to remain immersed in a “contemplative” beauty, you can visit another hidden treasure of Venice: it is the annexed ex Convento dei Cruciferi, renovated by IUAV University, and today converted into student residences and smart hotel with bar and restaurant service managed by Combo, a Turin company, already present in other metropolitan cities with similar concepts.

Chiesa dei Gesuiti, a jewel of the Venetian Baroque (VE) — Veneto Secrets

Taking a break and sitting in the large cloister converted into a café, or on the small back terrace overlooking the Rio dei Gesuiti, is truly one of the most beautiful “secret” experiences that Venice can offer.

The bar is open every day from 7.30 to 22.30, while the restaurant takes an afternoon break.

The Secret

The convent complex has a long and articulated history behind it, having been a public school from 1774 to 1797 and then the HQ of the Manin military barracks until the early 1960s. After long oblivion, it was entrusted by the Municipality of Venice to IUAV University in order to build a residential facility for students and researchers of the city’s universities.

Useful Info

Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, detta I Gesuiti
Salizada dei Spechieri 4877
30121 Venezia
Entrance: 1 euro donated for the restorations

Ex Convento dei Crociferi
Campo dei Gesuiti
Cannaregio 4878
30121 Venezia
Tel. +39 041 5286103

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