Fondamenta Zitelle, Giudecca

Church of Santa Maria della Presentazione, known as “Le Zitelle”

Designed by Andrea Palladio, it enjoys one of the most beautiful and privileged views of St. Mark’s Square.

The Church of S. Maria della Presentazione, usually known as the Zitelle, was built between 1581 and 1588. The church is the third Palladian focus, after S. Giorgio and the Redentore, in the ambitious plan to enhance the view across the lagoon from St. Mark’s.

The Zitelle almshouse and the church of Santa Maria della Presentazione were founded with the noble purpose of offering refuge, assistance, and an honest trade (lace making) to poor girls who, for their good looks, were likely to be forced into prostitution.

The first forty zitelle (maidens) entered the institution on the Giudecca island in 1561, organised in a Jesuit-inspired community run by Venetian noblewomen. A first project for the construction of a new lay almshouse providing room, board, and an education to girls who had still not come of age was presented in 1574.

The Palladio Project

The church was erected after the plague, between 1581 and 1585, and although there are no surviving records, the project was allegedly signed by Andrea Palladio even though the first stone of the church was laid a year after his death. Originally recalling a central-plan votive temple, the project was then adapted to fit in the area delimited by the almshouse wings and featured a temple façade surmounted by a large dome and two small bell towers.

The entire structure is owned by I.R.E. In recent years, the former almshouse was converted into a luxury hotel. Both the church and the large garden stretching to the south of the lagoon are ideal locations for art openings and exhibitions.

The architecture

The polygonal-plan interiors are enriched by fine paintings by Palma the Younger, Antonio Vassillacchi, and Francesco Bassano.

The entire structure is owned by I.R.E. In recent years, the former almshouse was converted into a luxury hotel. Both the church and the large garden stretching to the south of the lagoon are ideal locations for art openings and exhibitions.

Keep in touch with the Hidden Jewels of Venice! Subscribe our newsletter to receive news and events updates.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. For more information visit our Privacy & Cookie Policy. More information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close