Venice > Santa Maria della Salute

Santa Maria della Salute

The great baroque church of Santa Maria della Salute, which is located at the beginning of the Grand Canal, is one of the architectural landmarks most famous and impressive of Venice. Henry James likened this Church to "a great lady on the threshold of his living room... with domes and volutes, arches phosphonates and statues that form a pomposa crown and wide steps arranged as the trail of a dress". The church was built as a sign of thanksgiving for the end of the plague in 1630: from here name Health. Every November, during the feast of health, the faithful reach the church through a bridge of boats, prepared for the occasion, that crosses the Grand Canal. Baldassare Longhena began the construction of the church in 1630, at the age of 32 years, and there he worked for the rest of their lives, but the building was completed only in 1687, five years after his death.
The inside is relatively sober, but rich in paintings of merit. The greater body at the center, surmounted by a hemispherical dome, is octagonal in plan, from which radiate the six side chapels. The presbytery with a central dome and the great altar dominate the view from the portal. The sculptural group of the altar, Giusto de Court, represents the Virgin with the child in act to protect Venice from the plague. The best paintings are in the sacristy to the left of the altar: The altarpiece in the San Marco in throne with Saints Cosma, 
Sebastiano, Damiano and Rocco (1511-12), the work of the young Titian and the scenic and dramatic paintings on the ceiling, by Titian, Cain and Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham and Isaac and David and Goliath (1540-49). The Wedding at Cana (1551), on the wall opposite the entrance, is a great and unforgettable embodiment of Tintoretto.