When you are looking at the Giudecca Island, from Zattere, your eyes are attracted by the splendid creation of Andrea Palladio, Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore or, commonly known, Il Redentore (The Redeemer).
The church impresses at first from the distance, thanks to its massive structure, but only in front of it you will be able to discover the details that complete one of the most valuable architectural creations of the Venetian Renaissance.
After the plague epidemic of 1575-1577, that killed over 50,000 Venetians, the Senate of the Republic decided to build a church to celebrate the end of the scourge and to thank the Divinity.
The mission was entrusted to the great Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, who was to begin the construction in 1577 and to leave it, after his death in 1580, to Antonio da Ponte, who would complete it many years later, in 1592.
After the church was finished, the Venetian Senate established that every July, a pontoon will be built to link Zattere with the Giudecca island. In time, this tradition will become an important celebration for the Venetians, known as Festa del Redentore.
Considered the most beautiful church built by Palladio, Il Redentore was initially designed to resemble the Greek Pantheon of Athens, but the project was rejected, being considered pagan.
Although, as a whole, the architectural style is a Renaissance style, some people see, antinomically, in the conception of the building, some Turkish elements, such as the two minaret-like bell towers.
The stairs leading to the massive entrance of the church are wide, counting 15 steps. According to Palladio’s belief, a faithful man, in order to increase his devotion, needs a gradual path to salvation.
According to another Palladian concept, the church is well-proportioned, measuring 75 meters in length, 30 meters in width, with exact ratios of all these dimensions. The dome has a diameter of about 15 meters and the bell-towers rise 48 meters from the ground, all this forming an impressive image.
Il Redentore contains a series of paintings signed by Jacopo Bassano, Paolo Veronese or Alvise Vivarini, and sculptures by Jacopo Tatti (il Sansovino), but the most interesting ones are found in the sacristy, which is usually closed to the public.
The church appears in numerous works of art, such as Cannaletto’s paintings, Duncan Grant’s, or J.M.W. Turner’s, as a basic symbol of Venetian culture and architecture.
HOW TO GET THERE
You can reach the island of Giudecca, and Il Redentore, with the waterbuses of ACTV Line 2, Line 8, Line 4.1 or Line 4.2, stopping at the Redentore station.