The church was built by the religious congregation of Humiliati around the middle of the 14th century, and dedicated to God, to the Blessed Virgin and to Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. Because of its weak foundations, the church underwent important restoration works in 1399.
In 1414, the Council of Ten, one of the highest governing bodies of the Republic of Venice, granted the church the name of Madonna dell’Orto, which was already popular among the locals. The name came from a miraculous statue of the Madonna, brought to the church from a nearby garden (orto meaning garden in Italian).
In 1462, the Humiliati were expelled by a decree of the same council, and the church was assigned to the congregation of the Canons Regular of San Giorgio in Alga, which was suppressed in 1668. The convent of the Madonna dell’Orto passed in 1669 to the Congregation of the Cistercian Monks, and in 1787 came under a public administration.
In 1841, the Austrian government of Venice ordered a general restoration at its own expense. The restoration of the facade took place in 1845, and the works for the rest of the building were started in 1855. The restoration works were completed in 1869.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The facade of the church is made of bricks, and divided in three by two thick pilasters. The two side areas have four-light windows in Gothic style, while the central area has two central rosettes.
The portal, work of Bartolomeo Bon, was completed in 1483, and is surmounted by an arch with sculptural decorations in white stone. At the top of the arch is Saint Cristopher and on the sides are the Madonna and the Archangel Gabriel.
The side areas are decorated at the top with twelve three-lobed niches containing the statues of the twelve apostles. On the pilasters and on the cusp of the facade, there are five tall Gothic aedicules containing the 18th-century statues representing Prudence, Charity, Faith, Hope and Temperance.
The interior has a basilica plan, with three naves, with double-framed arches supported by massive columns in Greek marble. The church has a rectangular plan, without a transept, with a splendid pentagonal apse beyond the presbytery.
TIP: The Church of Madonna dell’Orto is famous for the ten paintings of Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto, who lived and worked in the nearby Campo dei Mori and whose remains now rest in the apse chapel from the left aisle.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest vaporetto stop is Madonna dell’Orto, located about 70 meters away, on the waterbus Lines 4.1, 4.2, 5.1 and 5.2. To find the church on foot, use the map below.