The Santi Maria and Donato Basilica on the island of Murano in Venice was built in the 7th century. Between 1125 and 1140 a major reconstruction took place, during which the bell tower was also added. The church, which is also the Cathedral of Murano, is considered one of the most important representatives of Venetian-Byzantine architecture.
Santi Maria and Donato Basilica Venice
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
Address: Campo San Donato, 30141 – Venezia (tel. +39.041 739056). Public transportation: 4.1, 4.2, 6.1, 6.2, 7.1, 7.2 (Murano Museo stop). Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon and 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission: Free of charge.
History and description
The Santi Maria and Donato Basilica is the oldest of the surviving churches on the island of Murano. The earliest document referring to the church dates back to the year 999. This document contains some indications that the church had already existed for several centuries at that time.
The facade is characterized by a classical Romanesque-Venetian style. The church has a Latin cross as its floor plan and consists of three naves, delineated by two rows of five marble columns.
The floor mosaic dates back to 1140, which means it was laid at the same time as that of St. Mark’s Cathedral. The motifs of the mosaic are mainly animal and vegetable, but there are also some references to the Bible. Between 1973 and 1979 it was restored. With high water, the church often flooded, which had caused damage to the mosaic. In order to restore it, it first had to be completely removed and later reinstalled.
The wall mosaic in the apse, depicting a “Speaking Mary,” dates back to the 12th century.
The altarpiece at the main altar was painted by Paolo Veronese. It depicts “San Donato” and dates back to 1310.
The “Altarpiece of San Donato” is characterized by a polychrome relief and by some of the first inscriptions in the Venetian dialect.
The highlight of the Baptistry is the Tomb of the Acilii, which is used as a baptismal font.
The bell tower was built in the 12th century.
The apse consists of two bays on the outside. The lower part has some niches and has a Byzantine appearance, with the so-called formellae characterized by the Arab influence. The upper part shows Romanesque influences, with some small loggias and a frieze.