Santi Giovanni e Paolo
Santi Giovanni e Paolo is one of the largest and most ancient churches in Venice, Italy. The church is located on the Celian Hill. The church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo is also referred to as San Zanipolo. The church is an impressive Roman Catholic Church witch holds the status of a minor basilica. After the 15th century, the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo was used as the residence of Venice’s doges. Originally, the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo was designed to accommodate the large numbers of poor people in the urban areas of Venice. Santi Giovanni e Paolo is a parish church of the Vicariate of San Marco-Castello and it is the principal Dominican church of Venice. Santi Giovanni e Paolo was built to honor St. John and St. Paul.
The first church to be built on the site where the current Santi Giovanni e Paolo church is was commissioned by the Doge Jacopo Tiepolo. He gave out free land to the Dominicans to build the church after dreaming of a flock of white doves flying over the area. The Dominicans built the church and opened it in 1246. But in 1333, the church was demolished after the congregation had increased and demanded a larger church. It took almost a century before a new church was built. The newly built church was opened and sanctified in 1430.
Santi Giovanni e Paolo church is built in the Italian Gothic Style and is made of bricks. Several noble families took the church as a burial place and around twenty five doges (including Jacopo Tiepolo himself , Lorenzo Tiepolo, Marco Cornaro, Nicolo Marcello, Giovanni Mocenigo, Sebastiano Venier, Leonardo Loredan, ertucci Valiero, Silvestro Valiero, etc.). Also military commanders and famous artists (including Giovanni Bellini, Jacopo Cavalli, Alvise Trevisan, Vettor Pisani, Bartolomeo Bragadin, among others) were buried in this church. The tombs housed in this church are ornately decorated. As a result of the church being used as a burial place for many noble persons, it acquired its nickname “The Pantheon of Venice”.
The interior of Santi Giovanni e Paolo is magnificent with lots of artwork and decorations. The main altar of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, which was dedicated to Vincenzo Ferrer, a Spanish Dominican saint, is decorated by a large polyptych by Giovanni Bellini. Another altar which was created by Lorenzo Lotto displays the alms of Saint Anthony. The interior of Santi Giovanni e Paolo church features artworks by many other noble artists, among them are: Tullio Lombardo, Alessandro Vittoria, Bartolomeo Vivarini, Rocco Marconi, Veronese, Bartolomeo Bon, Gregorio Lazzarini, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, among others. The church is full of paintings and incredible structures that give tourists to appreciate the great artwork of Italian artists. The church holds several Masses every day and visitors can tour the church for a small fee. If you are visiting Venice you should definitely take the time to come and visit this church. Traveling from Venice to Rome and other parts of Italy is very easy now that there are express trains.