The modest Italian Gothic exterior of Venice’s Frari Church (Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari) belies the wealth of Italian Renaissance masterpieces inside. Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin
(1518) altarpiece is especially notable for innovative emotional figures and bright colors.The Basics
Due to the scope and importance of the Titian painting behind the main altar—and artworks inside the sacristy, nave, and side chapels—the best way to visit Frari Church is with a guide. Join a private or small-group tour to fully appreciate these Venetian art masterpieces. The church is located in Venice’s central San Polo district, home to the Rialto Bridge and market; it's a captivating neighborhood to explore on a walking tour.
This brick church was built for the Franciscans between the 14th and 15th centuries, and the monks commissioned a number of renowned artists and sculptors to decorate the interior. Significant works to seek out include Titian’s Pesaro Madonna
; Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna
and Child with Saints Nicholas of Bari
, and Benedict
; and Donatello’s St. John the Baptist
. Be sure to admire the church’s ornately carved choir stalls by Marco Cozzi.Things to Know Before You Go
- Frari Church is must-see for admirers of Italian Renaissance and religious art.
- This is a religious site, and proper attire and decorum are required to enter. Cover your shoulders and knees, and keep your voice low.
- The church is fully accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is on the Campo dei Frari, which you can reach on foot along a series of twisting lanes that skirt the neighborhood’s quiet canals. The nearest vaporetto (ferry) stop is S. Toma.When to Get There
Venice is one of the most popular destinations in Italy, and all of its sights are crowded in summer. If traveling from May to November, schedule a Frari Church visit in early morning or late afternoon, when you can enjoy the art and sculpture in relative peace. The church is open daily from morning until early evening and closes early on Sundays and holidays.
Notable Tombs in Frari Church
The Frari contains the funerary monuments of a number of important and wealthy Venetian doges and religious figures, including members of the powerful Pesaro family. The artist Titian is interred here, as is the heart of sculptor Antonio Canova, preserved inside a pyramid-shaped monument the artist had originally designed for the remains of Titian.