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San Giorgio Maggiore island

San Giorgio Maggiore - Venice
The island of San Giorgio Maggiore is located in front of Saint Mark's Square, from which it's separated by the channel of the same name, and beside the Giudecca island bathed by the small Grazia channel.

History: The island of San Giorgio Maggiore, also known as Memmia belonged to the powerful patrician family of Memmo until the tenth century, was originally populated by orchards, mills and salt pans. It owes its name to the main building of a church dedicated to St. George (790). In 982 the doge Tribuno Memmo decided to give it to the Benedictine monk Giovanni Morosini who became the first abbot of the monastery that was built following the reclamation of some lands adjoining the church. The Abbey of St. George soon assumed a major role in the cultural and religious landscape of the city and the island slowly changed its face being enriched with new buildings.

During the '500, the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore assumed its present appearance by the great architect Andrea Palladio, who designed a monumental building, marked with a classical facade. Also projected by Palladio the cloister and the refectory intended to accommodate the large canvas of The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese. In '600 new works commissioned to architect Baldassare Longhena raised again the artistic content of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore: the grand staircase (1643), a new facade of the monastery (1652), the novitiate (1657), the infirmary (1677) and the guest quarters (1680). Intervened to stop this trend Napoleon Bonaparte, took to Italy at the end of '700, who scrupulously devoted himself to stripping the art treasures of Venice. St. George was not immune from this "French disease" and lose in few years many of the masterpieces that preserved including the large painting of the Wedding at Cana by Veronese, now kept in the Louvre.


With the passage of Venice to the Austrians in the Treaty of Campoformio (17 October 1797) the havoc did not stop: in 1807 the Benedictine monastery was closed and the island became a free port, the dock and department stores that were built still exists today . Following the revolution of 1848 the Austrians decided to turn the island into a military garrison, a function it held even after the expulsion of the Austrians and the Unification of Venice to Italy (October 21, 1866). But soon the island fell into a state of severe decline interrupted only by the intervention the Cini family which promised to organize a project of restoration of the ancient Benedictine monastery also intended to house the headquarters of the Cini Foundation. In 1954, following an environmental reclamation, was inaugurated the Teatro Verde, which still hosts events and art exhibitions. Thanks to the Cini Foundation were also opened a Center of Culture and Civilization, an Arts and Crafts Center and Nautical Center.

 

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