Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta

sights / Religious

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta information

Venice , Italy
Piazza Torcello
+390 41 73 01 19
Getting there
Ferry: Torcello
adult/reduced €5/4, incl museum €8/6, incl campanile €9
Opening hours
10.30am-6pm summer, 10am-5pm winter
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Life choices are presented in no uncertain terms in the dazzling 12th-century mosaics of Santa Maria Assunta. Look ahead to a golden afterlife amid saints and a beatific Madonna, or turn your back on her and face the wrath of the devil gloating over lost souls in an extraordinary Last Judgement panel. In existence for more than a millennium, the cathedral is the Lagoon's oldest Byzantine-Romanesque monument and after lengthy restorations you can once again enjoy the heavenly views from the Campanile .

Of the basilica's mosaics, the earliest, dating to the 11th century, is the Madonna rising in the eastern apse above a field of Torcello poppies. To the right of her is another richly decorated chapel showing Sts Augustine, Ambrose, Martin and Gregory amid richly rendered symbolic plants: lilies (representing purity), grapes and wheat (representing the wine and host of the holy sacrament), and corn-poppy buds (evoking Torcello’s island setting).

Polychrome marble floors are another medieval masterpiece, with swirling designs and interlocking wheels symbolising eternal life. Saints line up atop the gilded iconostasis, their gravity foiled by a Byzantine screen teeming with peacocks, rabbits and other fanciful beasts.