It’s the second half of the XVI, and Venice is devastated by the plague. The epidemics sweeps almost 50 000 citizens (30% of the population) away. The city is on its knees and there’s nothing to hope for but a miracle. In 1576, when the worst seems to be unavoidable, the Senate of the Republic of Venice prays for a divine intervention and commissions Andrea Palladio, one of the most skillful and famous architects of the time, to design a votive church, that will then become the marvelous “Basilica del Redentore”, or simply “Il Redentore”. The Roman Catholic church rises on the waterfront of the Canale della Giudecca, in the sestriere of Dorsoduro. It was not only designed by one of the greatest Italian architects, but it also contains stunning masterpieces by artists such as Tintoretto and Veronese. The Basilica’s façade is inspired by the Pantheon of Rome and the 15 steps at the entrance are a direct reference to the Temple of Jerusalem.
No wonder why Venice is so affectionate to this incredible building: it represents a prodigy, a sign of mercy shown from God in a moment of pain and desperation. “Il Redentore” stands for devotion, thankfulness and faith. Every year since 1577, on the third Sunday of July, Venetians gather in a picturesque procession that also involves fireworks, creating a magic atmosphere. It all started when the Doge Sebastian Venier decided to walk as far as the tabernacle, travelling along a bridge of barges now connecting la Giudecca to the rest of Venice. During this period of the year, Venice certainly shows one of its most fascinating sides: the whole city is filled up with garlands and balloons and people are busy decorating their boats, adding tradition to beauty.
Not only Venetians are involved in this event, but also tourists can witness the greatness of the city during one of its most important celebrations, getting mesmerized by the lights shining in the sky and reflecting on the channels’ surface, sparkling and entertaining crowds until night.
Tradition, art and a message of hope to deliver to humanity: the “Basilica del Redentore” is still nowadays one of the most recognizable symbols of Venice and represents a story still living in its ancient, immortal soul.
Meccaniche Veneziane Team
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