Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari~


Is one of the greatest “minor” basilicas in Venice, which of course, is saying quite a lot. Building began in 1250. This is the entry way.


This photo, and the next, show the woodwork in the choir stalls, with the organ pipes above.


Think for a minute what it would sound like to hear the organ and the choir sing in these stalls, as you sat in the church, in say 1400.


In the cathedral are two works by the 16th century master Titian, as well as Donatello’s first painting. They were magnificent, but what struck me most was this piece from Paola Veneziano, depicting the Madonna with saints. I knew little of Veneziano and had to google him. All that is known about him is the artwork he created between 1333-1358. His work represents, “an amazing balance between his Byzantine training and the romantic influences of northern Europe.” (Wiki)
It was the influence of Byzantine mosaic in this piece that caught my attention.

The interior is an amazing example of how architecture, art, and reverence, can create an environment that has soothed human souls for hundreds of years.

The painted, wooden art in the basilica is remarkable. This horse and rider made of painted wood, was the first of its type ever made in Venice, and depicts a Roman Prince.


This wooden clock was carved in 1630 by the artist Stefano Panatta.

There are many beautiful pieces of very old furniture in the basilica like this pew and wood painted fresco, of unknown origin.


Cheers to you from the sacred serenity of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari~

191 thoughts on “Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari~

  1. I so enjoyed this vicarious visit to the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Cindy; your words and images, the sounds of the pipe organ and choir, the art and reverence.

  2. Glorious pictures, Cindy. You make me feel I was there – so much detail in the images, and your lighting of interiors is always revealing and impressive.

  3. It’s nearly unfathomable that we are looking at a “minor” church. So much opulence and attention to detail. Nothing modern compares to these medieval edifices which nobody could afford to design or construct nowadays.

  4. I visited this church back in the 90s! ๐Ÿ™‚ My camera was stolen and I have no photos so I thouroughly enjoyed your great shots, Cindy. Coming from Norway where the churches are very clean-bare I marvel at the wealth and the display further south. Unbelievable.
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Dina & co

  5. This is an awesome cathedral. Europe has so many amazing places like this and each one is unique. Every time I visit one I think how fortunate i am to have been able to see it. The pictures are fabulous. Thanks!

  6. An awesome place full of beautiful artworks. The clock piece has so many details and seems to be telling some sort of story, intriguing… You beautifully captured pictures of the place.

  7. I too find the clock the most compelling. I’d love to know the story. Perhaps the cycle of life plus other. And a fairly 3D carving, not just surface.

  8. Wonderful pics, Cindy… they particularly resonated with me, as my partner is reading aloud to me Kenneth Clark’s timeless and amazing book ” Civilisation”, and this is the time frame we’ve reached… I now have a new understanding of your beautiful pics, thanks to this book…more please !!!!

  9. What an extraordinary place, Cindy.
    Your photos of the details are excellent…..not many photographers would be able to capture the detail as well as this.

  10. Adore this post Cindy!! It seems like you could spend a morning in this place–so much exquisite detail everywhere you look. I was surprised at the painted wooden art– seems more German. I guess they are just across the mountains from Venice. –And loved the thought of sitting in this church and hearing the organ and choir. One trip to Long we were able to hear the Messiah sung in Westminster Abbey– a beautiful memory. Great post again –thanks Cindy! xox

    • Sounds like a wonderful memory indeed! I love happening into a church during choir practice. It happens a lot. Often you are alone in the church listening to what seems almost like heaven speaking~

    • Yes, I love the old painted, wooden art pieces too. They make churches warm and homey and they seem to bring the art and interiors to life. Too much starkness, or marble and stone don’t have the same welcoming warmth~

  11. I find it amazing that so much of Europe was formed before the U.S. ever came into being! To be surrounded by so many glorious old things and so much creativity must be an amazing feeling. Thanks for sharing it with us, Cindy!

  12. Absolutely gorgeous Cindy! It’s amazing what people have created in the name of religion over time. Art sits at the forefront of history. It is beyond words and tales and decrees. It remains, for the most part, a pure vision of times and places. The building and everything about it is art.
    Hiding out on Art Gowns, working on the new post! Love to you!

    • Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say. Art is an interesting language and a time traveling vehicle. Because of art we can feel what people felt in this church 600 years ago and that is pretty remarkable!
      I cannot wait for the unveiling of your new masterpiece! <3

  13. Indeed! Mozaiek caught in paint, Older forms in new material. The horse and rider is wonderful. It reminds me of the Bamberg Rider, in the German city of, well, Bamberg. ๐Ÿ™‚ Venice is one of the prettiest cities I know. One night when sailing the water taxi on Canal Grande I saw this girl sitting in a warmly lit window, above the streetlights reflecting water. She was reading a book, captured by the words, woven in a web of letters, phrases, perhaps meanings as deep as the velvet sky above. She and her book, in that window, while a gondolier sang his last song. At that moment I fell in love. With the girl maybe, but certainly with Venice.

    • Oh what a big smile this brought out in me! Such wonderful poetic imagery! I love Bamberg immensely and I know the horse and rider you speak of. Magical looking elf man. He looked like his horse could spring wings and fly him away at will. Wouldn’t that be lovely! I love your reading girl in silhouette forever representing Venice in your mind. Magical~

    • Good observation and important. It was completed around 1338, some churches are still in progress after may hundreds of years! This one was completed rather rapidly so it stuck with me.

    • Yes, I should do a whole series on these old, painted, wooden, religious statues. They fascinate me because they seem so life like, especially the wooden painted females saints, angels and Madonnas. They stop me in my tracks because it seems like they have this life essence that stone statues can’t touch. I keep taking photos of them, but don’t post most of them. Now I think I will. Thank you! You have given me a good idea.

    • The clock is seriously amazing. I have no idea how someone could carve such intricate figures so close to each other with wood working tools. People were definitely amazingly talented a long time ago, which I think is reason for both concern and hope.

  14. Cindy, these are beautiful as is all your fabulous photography. I’ve been to Venice, but the way you photograph, makes them even more beautiful and they are a stunning sight to see. Thank you, Karen

  15. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    When one thinks of Venice it is usually because of its canals, gondalas and St. Mark’s Basilica. However, let the camera lens of Cindy Knoke show you another basilica that is considered to be minor… Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari..the architecture, marble work and paintings are stunning. And even if you are not religious I would imagine that the intensity of emotion of those who have worshipped there since 1250 is infused into the walls and echoes around the vaulted ceilings. Beautifully captured as always.

  16. Your travels take you to some amazing places, and here it seems history seeps throughout your photos and post. You have a sentence which mirrors my exact thought “Think for a minute what it would sound like to hear the organ and the choir sing in these stalls, as you sat in the church, in say 1400.” What a feeling it would be to have the music and sights of this time wash over as I take it all in. Beautiful ~ and so happy to see your adventures continue on ๐Ÿ™‚

    • So wonderful to hear from you Randall and thank you for such insightful comments as always from you. I will head over to your blog to see what you’ve been up too. I know there were changes happening in your life that sounded positive~

  17. What a beautiful collection of photographs. I love the colors and the carvings and the atmosphere of this basilica.

  18. In a place with many “major” religious and artistic sites, the “minor” ones can be passed by. But, such finds when we take some time to visit. -Oscar

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