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San Giorgio Maggiore Island in Venice

San Giorgio Maggiore Island in Venice

San Giorgio Maggiore Island is maybe the most well-known landscape of Venice, as it ends up on almost all photos of the city. All tourists that visit Venice make it to the St. Mark’s Square from where they take photos of the island, but rarely decide to visit this jewel of the city. The island has no restaurants or cafes, nevertheless it is an incredibly charming island, definitely worth visiting.

At first, the island was known as the island of Cypresses due to numerous trees of this tree species. For a long time there had been vineyards, gardens, a mill and a salt work. In 829, a church was built to honor St. George. In 982, a monk Giovanni  Morosini managed to receive the island as a gift from the Venetian Doge Tribuno Memmo, whose family owned the island in order to found the St George Monastery.

In the 15th century, large scale construction works started and lasted till the 17th century. The buildings that can be seen today took their final shape exactly in this period. After the fall of the Venetian Republic, the island together with the city first falls under the rule of France and afterwards under the Austrian too. Since the monastery was suppressed and the whole island was used as a military camp, the island fell into decay and was only after 1951 and the efforts of the Foundation Giorgio Cini that the island started to recover its ancient splendor.

Interesting facts

  • The first buildings on the island were destroyed in a devastating earthquake in the 13th century.
  • After the fall of the Venetian Republic, the monastery was suppressed. At first, the island was converted into a port. From 1851, the island and the monastery became home to Austrian soldiers, where they formed an artillery command.


What to visit on the San Giorgio Maggiore Island in Venice
The Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore
This Basilica was constructed in 1610 according to the design of Andrea Palladio, an important late Renaissance Italian architect, whose work is considered to be one of the most influential in the history of architecture. Visitors can enter the basilica, visit the Conclave Hall (in 1800, Pio VII was elected the Pope here) and the Bell tower of the Basilica San Giorgio Maggiore.

Foundation Giorgio Cini
Foundation Giorgio Cini is a non-profit organization with the aim of restoring the island to its previous splendor after 100 years of military occupation. The island has an exhibition space that is dedicated exclusively to temporary arts. Some of these exhibitions are just amazing, so do not miss them! Also, keep in mind that the entrance is free of charge, the fact that is often ignored by most visitors of the island after they had experienced the high prices in the rest of Venice. On the Foundation Giorgio Cini webpage you can check for the current exhibition.

Bell tower of the Basilica San Giorgio Maggiore
This bell tower is the second highest tower in Venice, the Bell tower of the Basilica San Marco being the highest. It was completed in the 18th century and offers an incredible view on the lagoon and St Mark’s Square. In case you are interested in a view on the city from above, this bell tower is maybe a better choice than the Bell tower of the Basilica San Marco, since it is much less crowded.

Ticket prices of the tourist attractions on the San Giorgio Maggiore Island
The Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore
The entrance is FREE of Charge.
Foundation Giorgio Cini
The entrance is FREE of Charge.
Bell tower of the Basilica San Giorgio Maggiore
Regular ticket price is: 6 Euros (€).

Working hours of the tourist attractions on the San Giorgio Maggiore Island
The Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore
From April to October the working hours of the basilica are: 09:00-19:00h.
From November to March the working hours of the basilica are: 08:30-18:00h.
Foundation Giorgio Cini
The working hours of the exhibition space is from 10:00 to 19:00h.
Closed on Mondays.
Bell tower of the Basilica San Giorgio Maggiore
The last entrance is 20 minutes before the closing of the Basilica San Giorgio Maggiore.

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