According to tradition, the church of Santa Maria Formosa was one of the eight founded in the VII century by St. Magnus, Bishop of Oderzo, after a Vision of the Virgin as a magnificent matron (in fact, in Latin, formosa means beautiful).
The church of Santa Maria Formosa built in 1492, is Mauro Codussi's architectural masterpiece and marks the introduction of the full spatial vision embodied in the Tuscan Renaissance in Venice. The Latin-cross layout, with central nave and two side aisles, respects the foundations of the original 7th-century church partially maintaining the visibility of the remaking from the IX century during which the church endowed the cupola and a Greek-cross layout.
Codussi's Greek-cross layout creats a well-articulated centre-focussed space in which the complex roofing of vaults and cupolas seem to float above the steady light that flows in through the deep windows of the main walls.
For the external façades, commissioned by the Cappello family, two different styles were chosen: the classical-style façade giving onto the Canal, built in 1542, and the Baroque façade giving onto the small campo in 1604.
One of the works of art in the church which should not be missed is the "Saint Barbara Polyptych" by Jacopo Palma il Vecchio (1523 ca.); located in the chapel of the Scuola dei Bombardieri, the piece of art that first gave recognization to the artist's name within the city. Opposite it, hangs Leandro Bassano's sombre "Last Supper" (end of the XVI century); whilst in the chapel of the Conception you will find the famous "Triptych of Virgin Mary of Mercy" (1473), which reveals the clear influence of the Mantegna style on Murano artist Bartolomeo Vivarini.
In the church's oratory is still conserved "Virgin Mary with Child and Saint Domenico" painted in the XVIII century by the artist Giandomenico Tiepolo.
MUSICAL INFORMATION (Aldo Bova "Venezia i luoghi della musica")
Baldassare Galuppi worked as an organist, in 1722.
On August 9, 1916 an incendiary Austrian bomb destroyed the organ.
Monday to Saturday: 10.30am - 1.30pm and 2.30pm - 5pm (last entrance ten minutes before closing)