Santi Giovanni e Paolo (San Zanipolo)

Address: Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Castello, Venice, Italy
Telephone: 041 5235913

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An art-packed basilica in a sculpture-dotted square.

The immense church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, built by the Domenican order in the 14th century, was the burial place of Venice’s doges – 25 ended up here – and heroes. It also has art works by Veronese, Bellini and Lorenzo Lotto.

The striking trompe-l’oeil façade to the left of the entrance dates from the 15th century: this was the facade of the Scuola di San Marco (School of St Mark), HQ of a powerful town guild. Beautiful panels by Tullio and Antonio Lombardo depict scenes from St Mark's life. The building is now Venice’s public hospital.

In the square stands the magnificent equestrian statue of 15th-century mercenary soldier Bartolomeo Colleoni who donated a large sum to Venice to have his likeness erected in front of St Mark's. Wily local officials took the cash, waited until he was dead, then erected this magnificent monument in front of the Scuola di San Marco rather than in the rather more grandiose setting that Colleoni had envisaged. I like to sit at a table outside Rosa Salva, drink in hand, contemplating the monument... and human folly.

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Recommended for

  • Culture vultures
  • First-time travellers
  • Seasoned travellers
  • Sightseeing
  • Art
  • History
  • Design and architecture