Venice's Salute: Baldassarre Longhena's Brilliant Masterpiece

Venice's Salute

There is no other European city like Venice. Without a doubt, the capital of the Veneto region on the water would not be as charming without its beautiful and historically significant Roman Catholic churches. The Salute, or the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in full, is one of them.


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The beautiful white church honoring St. Mary of Health stands where the sea kisses Venice's canals. The building is a brilliant masterpiece by the great Venetian Baroque architect Baldassare Longhena from the 17th century. The presence of the Salute dome in the Venetian skyline inspired famous 18th-century Italian painters Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto) and Francesco Lazzaro Guardi.


Visiting Venice and the Salute Basilica


Barcelona, Paris, Venice... As someone who has never been a fan of overrated tourist destinations, I had no strong desire to go to Venice. Therefore, it became one of the last famous European cities I explored.


Every old city in Europe has a priceless asset: its history. Therefore, the possibility of staying in an old monastery-hotel in Venice piqued my interest because I knew I could experience the city's historic charm. My friend and I were away from the tourist crowds at Casa per Ferie Patronato Pio IX in northern Venice. We had the most fabulous stay there; thank you, Father Pietro.


Venice hotel
The guest hall at Casa per Ferie Patronato Pio IX

The Salute was something I had never heard of before visiting Venice. For the first time, I noticed the church, specifically its white domes and a pair of bell-towers (the post's 1st photo), standing on the Accademia Bridge (Ponte dell'Accademia). The bridge is the southernmost of Venice's four Grand Canal bridges, about a 7-minute walk from the Salute. The stroll was a pleasant surprise as the combination of narrow streets and canals created an unforgettable experience.


If you have read my previous posts, you probably know that I am a fan of architecture, especially the Italian Baroque style. The Salute basilica is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen in Venice. The building's exterior is stunning. While the interior is much simpler, the design, with a massive central circular area and the altar off to one side, gives it a distinctive appearance. By the way, I had one of the most beautiful views of Venice's center from the Salute gates: St. Mark's Square, Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Basilica, and the Campanile were all at their best!


The Salute Basilica in Photos

Venice's Salute
A view of the great dome from the north-west

Venice's Salute
The interior of the basilica, with two side altars displaying the painting Assumption of Our Lady (left) and The Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple (right) by 17th-century Italian painter Luca Giordano

Interior of the Salute
The interior of the basilica, with the high altar in the background

Sculpture Venice's Salute
John the Baptist's sculpture

Venice Salute Baroque Basilica
A view of the basilica from the south


The Church's Brief History


The basilica was the last church built by the Venetians, dedicated to asking the heavenly powers for help from the plague that killed a large portion of the Veneto population in 1630. Its construction took place between 1631 and 1687. For Dorsoduro's tip to be stabilized, at least 100,000 wooden pilings needed to be driven deep into the sandbanks; they remain intact after more than 300 years.


Architecture


Undoubtedly, the Basilica of St. Mary of Health is one of Venice's most imposing structures. Designed by Venetian architect Baldassare Longhena in the grand Baroque style, the church is an essential element of the cityscape.


The massive structure has two domes and two bell towers, adorned with no less than 125 statues. The basilica's interior is octagon shaped, with six chapels. Although the design is simple, there are several paintings by famous Italian painters: Sassoferrato, Porta, Giordano, and Titian. The church's sacristy houses a luxurious art collection, including Tintoretto's painting, Marriage at Cana (1561).


How to Get There


The Salute stands at the triangular tip of the Dorsoduro neighborhood on the south side of Venice, surrounded by the Venetian canals of Rio de la Salute, Grand, and Giudecca. The church is free to enter, but there is a fee to visit the art-filled sacristy (closed on Sunday mornings).

Address: Dorsoduro, 1, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy


By Public Transportation:

Water bus (line 1): S. Marco → Salute; P.le Roma → Salute


With this ticket, you can unrestrictedly use public water buses in Venice and the Venetian Lagoon for the islands of Lido, Murano, Burano, and Torcello, and also land buses in Mestre and Marghera.


Where to Stay in Venice


Planning a trip to Venice and not sure where to stay? I recommend Booking.com, a well-designed website that offers everything from small B&Bs to large hotel chains, vacation rentals, and homestays.

Booking.com


Private Gondola Ride and Photo Session in Venice


Enjoy a 30-minute private gondola ride and a one-hour photo session on this romantic tour with a talented photographer to capture the beauty of Venice in some of its most beautiful spots, including the stunning Salute basilica.


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Have you ever visited the Salute in Venice? What impressions, if any, did you have? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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