German traders didn’t have to stray far from the trading floor of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi to pray for an upswing in the market for their goods. Through several incarnations and shifting fortunes, this church attended to the spiritual needs of Venice’s active German trading community. These days, it's rarely open.
Originally a three-aisled church built in 1170, San Bartolomeo’s style was cramped by the buildings that cropped up around it after the Rialto bridge was completed. The current look is the result of a 1723 reworking by Giovanni Scalfarotto, whose sombre approach to exterior decoration was befitting a church dedicated to a martyr who was skinned alive – note the grimacing figure above the door to the 1755 bell tower, capped with a Bavarian onion dome. If you find it open for visits or concerts, you may be surprised by the crystalline colours of Palma il Giovane paintings inside; other key works have been moved to the Gallerie dell’Accademia.