Tuesday, 6 October 2009

What to see: Church of Santa Maria di Nazareth (Scalzi), Venice

The Church of Santa Maria di Nazareth is one of Venice’s best examples of Baroque churches. The popular name “Scalzi” refers to the Carmelite barefoot monks who established their order in Venice in 1633 and bought the plot of land facing the Grand Canal on which their church was built.
The architect Baldassare Longhena enlarged the church in 1654 and it was given its present appearance between 1660 and 1689 by Giuseppe Pozzo, who created the sumptuous interior seen in the first two pictures, and Giuseppe Sardi, who built the façade of Carrara marble. The church is a good example of how many Venetian churches have spent everything on the main façade and nothing on the side walls, as seen in the fourth photo. The vault originally had a fresco by Tiepolo, but this was unfortunately destroyed in a WWI air raid on Venice in 1915.
There are several side chapels on either side of the nave. In the Manin chapel (fifth photo) a simple stone slab marks the resting place of Ludovico Manin, the last Doge. It was he who, after the French invasion in 1797 brought down the millennial Republic, took of his ducal cornice and gave it to his servant with the words: “Take it away, I shall not be needing it again”. The text on the stone reads simply: “Manini cineres”, “the ashes of Manin”.

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