Church of the Madonna dell'Orto

Campo de la Madonna de l'Orto. (Open Map)


Flanked by the old Scuola dei Mercanti, this monumental church stands on the far northern edge of the Sestiere of Cannaregio in a churchyard that still maintains its original paving of brick laid out in a herring-bone pattern within Istrian stone divisions. Originally built in the 14th century, the structure was heavily modified in the 15th and owes its name to a miraculous statue of the Virgin and Child - now in the San Mauro Chapel - which was found in a nearby garden (orto); in fact, the church is officially dedicated to St. Christopher Martyr. The magnificent brick facade is one of the most interesting in Venice, tracing as it does the transitions from Romanesque to Gothic and from Gothic to Renaissance. The interior of a single nave with two aisles contains numerous works of great importance; in particular, some masterpieces by Jacopo Robusti (better known as Tintoretto), who lived nearby (n.3399 on Fondamenta dei Mori) and was buried here, in the apsidal chapel on the right. Amongst his works one should undoubtedly mention the solemn Titanesque altarpiece of The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple (which now hangs over the doorway in the San Mauro Chapel) and the colossal works in the presbytery: The Adoration of the Golden Calf, The Last Judgement and The Virtues (1562-64). The other noteworthy works in the church include the fine complex of paintings in the Contarini Chapel (fourth chapel in the north aisle), where you can see Cima da Conegliano's St. John the Baptist and Saints (first altar on the right). The tabernacle in the fine Renaissance chapel dedicated to the Valier family used to contain a small Giovanni Bellini panel painting of The Madonna and Child (1480), which unfortunately has yet to be recovered after its theft in march 1993.