Sights in the Dorsoduro district of Venice

The Dorsoduro district offers some of Venice’s most famous tourist attractions. There are some top museums: the Guggenheim for modern art and the Galleria dell Accademia for Renaissance and Baroque works. You will find beautiful but lesser-known churches such as San Nicolò dei Mendicoli or San Sebastiano, but of course also the famous Santa Maria della Salute at the tip of the peninsula. You can relax after a whole day of experiencing culture by strolling on the famous Zatteredijk.

Table of contents

  • Santa Maria della Salute, the main church of Dorsoduro
  • Collezione Guggenheim in Venice
  • Galleria dell Accademia
  • Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Carmini (Santa Maria del Carmelo)
  • San Sebastiano
  • San Nicolò dei Mendicoli
  • Strolling on the Zattere

Legend
A . Santa Maria della
Salute B. Guggenheim
C. _ Galleria dell
Accademia D. Santa Maria dei Carmini
E . San Sebastiano
F . San Nicolò dei Mendicoli
G . Zattere
Source: Luca Aless, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-4.0)

Santa Maria della Salute, the main church of Dorsoduro

The foundation of Santa Maria della Salute dates back to the seventeenth century. For the umpteenth time, Venice was severely ravaged by the plague. There were thousands of victims. In desperation, the Republic made a promise on November 22, 1630: when the disease came to an end, a large church of the Blessed Virgin would be erected at the tip of the Dorsoduro peninsula, which incidentally means ‘Hard Back’ – a reference to the subsurface. So it happened. The commission for the construction of the Santa Maria della Salute (Health or Salvation) was given to the young architect Baldassare Longhena . He had no fewer than a million oak poles driven into the water, so that the church had a solid foundation. Longhena opted for a very clear baroque design. The facade therefore appears very light and even cheerful. The large volutes even remind it somewhat of a sugar cake. The church was completely finished in 1687. There is another Venetian church that was destroyed by the plague: Il Redentore on the island of La Giudecca.
As cheerful as the exterior of the church appears, the interior seems sober and strict. However, there are many art treasures to admire. Upon entering, the high altar is immediately noticeable. Here hangs a beautiful, seven-hundred-year-old icon of Mary. The statue of the kneeling girl is by the Flemish Josse Le Court and depicts Venice – the city pays tribute to Our Lady, who managed to put an end to the plague. In the sacristy (fee required) you can admire a number of Titian ‘s masterpieces, including The Miracle of Pentecost and The Sacrifice of Isaac . From his youth there is the work Marcus surrounded by Saint Cosmas, Damian, Rochus and Sebastian . A comparison of this work with the later work in the church immediately makes it clear what evolution the artist has undergone. His later work has more dynamics and life, while in his youth he still painted static bodies. Source: EdiHoch, PixabayNear the Santa
Maria della Salute is the former customs building of Venice: the Dogana da Mar. It is a low, compact and robust building. All ships that visited Venice had to pay customs duties, which were collected in this building. The building was therefore extremely important: the prosperity of the whole of Venice depended on trade and taxes. There is still a golden sphere on the building, supported by two boys. On the sphere is a ship’s rudder that serves as a weather vane. The whole thing refers to Dame Fortuna, or how happiness and unhappiness alternate. The Dogana da Mar has been used as a museum for modern art since 2009: the Centro d’Arte Contemporanea of the extremely wealthy Frenchman François Pinault (owner of Puma, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, among others). The art on display is truly modern: most of it is barely twenty years old, but it is by contemporary top artists such as Luc Tuymans and Jeff Koons.

Collezione Guggenheim in Venice

Peggy Guggenheim was a, euphemistically speaking, eccentric American lady. At a young age she inherited a lot of money, with which she bought the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal in 1949. There she lived for another thirty years, surrounded by her beloved dogs. These poodles (fourteen in number) were buried at the back of the garden. Guggenheim inherited her love for modern art from her uncle Solomon Guggenheim – the museum is now also managed by his Foundation. Peggy Guggenheim was married to the German artist Max Ernst for four years. Her collection includes work by him, but also works by Picasso, Magritte, Dali, Pollock, Rothko and many others. Together with the Centro d’Arte Contemporanea and the Galleria Internazionale dArte Moderna in the Santa Croce district, the Guggenheim forms the pinnacle of Venice’s modern art.
Source: Edal, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)One of the best-known works in the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim is L’Ange de la ville by the Italian sculptor Marino Marini (1901-1980). Perhaps the title means nothing to only a few. This is a statue of a childish figure on a highly stylized horse. The rider is naked and shows his phallus to the people. In the comic strip The more viewers from the series De Kiekeboes by Merho (1997), Fanny visits this museum. She notes that in the past, the phallus was unscrewed from the statue when a procession passed by on the Grand Canal. This fact is indeed true, although today’s Venetians are no longer so prudish.

Galleria dell Accademia

A complete contrast to the modern art of the Guggenheim is the Accademia, right opposite the Ponte dell’ Accademia. The museum is housed in the buildings of one of the oldest and largest scuolas: the Scuola Grande della Carità. These scualas were closed under Napeleon. He decided to assign the building and the accompanying church to the Academy of Fine Arts. An immense and very rich collection of art from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century has been collected. Almost all the big names of Venetian art are represented there: Bellini, Veronese, Giorgione, Tintoretto, Titian, etc. Like most other museums and sights, the Accademia is not cheap. An entrance ticket without service costs costs fifteen euros.
Some paintings are extremely interesting:
Source: Giorgione, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain) La Tempesta by Giorgione
Vasari praises Giorgione in The Lives : (…) Venice received a considerable gift in the form of the talent and excellence of one of its citizens who far surpassed both Bellinis

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