With its ornate facade and towering dome, the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is one of the most beautiful sights along Venice’s Grand Canal. Known simply as La Salute, the church dominates the mouth of the canal and its steps seem to rise directly from the water, inviting visitors to explore its soaring interior.
This baroque church, designed by Baldassare Longhena, was built in the 17th century and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, or Our Lady of Health, for having brought a stop to a devastating plague outbreak that killed a third of the Venetian population in the early 1600s. You can view its grandeur during a gondola ride or luxury motorboat cruise on the canal, or stop in to admire the Byzantine-influenced interior—with its exquisite mosaic floor and impressive artwork by Tintoretto and Titian—during a Venice walking tour. Private tours often combine a stop at La Salute with other famous sights like St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace in St. Mark’s Square, and the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto).
Things to Know Before You Go
- Be sure to bring your camera if taking a gondola or speedboat cruise up the Grand Canal to snap pictures of Santa Maria della Salute along with other canalside landmarks.
- If you’re planning to visit the interior of the church, wear modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
- Walking tours of Venice cover a lot of ground, so wear comfortable shoes and sun protection.
- There is a flight of steps to enter La Salute, so the church is not accessible to wheelchairs.
How to Get There
From Piazza San Marco, take a water taxi or vaporetto (water bus) to the Salute stop. You can also walk across the Ponte dell’Accademia, weaving your way through Venice’s beautiful alleys to the church.
When to Get There
One of the most picturesque festivals in Italy takes place each year on November 21, when Venice celebrates the Festa di Santa Maria della Salute. The city builds a temporary bridge across the Grand Canal to the church for pilgrims and holds a boat procession in honor of the Virgin Mary. Try to schedule a visit around this time to see the festivities. The church closes each day from noon to 3pm, so be sure to stop by in the early morning or late afternoon to visit when the church is open yet not too crowded.
Exploring the Dorsoduro Neighborhood
Santa Maria della Salute is located in Venice’s Dorsoduro neighborhood, home to other important sights like Ca' Rezzonico, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and the Church of San Sebastiano.