Zanipolo

Top choice basilica in Castello

Commenced in 1333 but not finished until the 1430s, this vast church is similar in style and scope to the Franciscan Frari in San Polo which was being raised at the same time. Both oversized structures feature red-brick facades with high-contrast detailing in white stone. After its completion, Zanipolo quickly became the go-to church for ducal funerals and burials.

Officially the Basilica dei SS Giovanni e Paolo – elided to San Zanipolo in Venetian – the church was named after two minor Roman martyrs of the early church (not their famous namesakes). Built in classic Italian Gothic style, it could accommodate virtually the entire population of 14th-century Castello. Its 33m-high nave provides a fitting setting for the tombs of 25 doges. From Pietro Lombardo’s three-tier monument celebrating the Ages of Man for Pietro Mocenigo (1406–76) to the Gothic tomb of Michele Morosini (1308–82) and Andrea Tirali's bombastic Tomba dei Valier (1708), they provide an overview of the stylistic development of Venetian art.

Rarest of all, though, is the surviving 15th-century stained glass in the south transept. Created on Murano, it richly illuminates designs by Bartolomeo Vivarini and Girolamo Mocetto.


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