Founded in the ninth century, the church of Santa Maria del Giglio (which translates into English as ‘St Mary of the Lily’) is more often known by Venetian locals as Santa Maria Zobenigo. It was rebuilt in its present form by Italian architect Giuseppe Sardi in 1681, at the behest of Antonio Barbaro, who was a renowned military leader and scion of a wealthy Venetian dynasty. The church has the most ornate Baroque façade of any in Venice, which appears grafted on to an otherwise perfectly plain exterior, and is unusual in that it is bristling with secular imagery. Santa Maria is topped with marble statues of the Barbaro family and adorned with figures of the Four Virtues, all executed by sculptor Flemish architect Giusto Le Court, who also worked on Santa Maria della Salute. Maps of the regions where Barbaro served on his campaigns, including Crete and Albania, battle scenes and his coat of arms are inscribed across the façade. This is the only church on Venice to display a painting by Flemish Old Master Peter Paul Rubens, now behind glass in the Molin Chapel; other showstoppers in its stately interior include a Jacopo Tintoretto altarpiece and an ornate baptistery covered in chubby cherubs.
Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, San Marco, Venice. Open
Mon–Sat 10am–5pm. Admission €3. Ferry to Santa Maria del Giglio.