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Torcello is an island in the northern part of the Venice lagoon. It is famous for its churches: Santa Fosca from the 11th century and Santa Maria Assunta, which dates back to 639.

Torcello, Santa Fosca

Santa Fosca

The church of Santa Fosca owes its origin to the relics of the martyr Santa Fosca, which were brought from Libya to Torcello before 1011. The church is a central building built in the 11th century with a Greek cross inscribed in an octagon and thus contains a typical design feature of 11th century Byzantine architecture. An arcade surrounds the church on five of the eight outer walls. On the other outer sides of the church is the pentagonal apse. Santa Fosca is connected to Santa Maria Assunta by a 16th century portico.

Santa Fosca

Santa Maria Assunta

The island owes its importance to the basilica called Santa Maria Assunta. Assunta means Mary ascending to heaven. Many churches in Italy are called Santa Maria Assunta. This one was consecrated in 1008.

Santa Maria Assunta

churches on Torcello island

Altar barrier

The church has an altar screen (iconostasis) from the 15th century. In the Greek Orthodox church of the Middle Ages, the area of the Holy of Holies around the altar is separated from the congregation area. In front of it, on the left, is the pulpit from the 12th century. Mary and the 12 apostles are depicted on the picture frieze (12th/13th century).


In the early Middle Ages, the apse did not contain the altar but the bishop's throne, which was reached via several steps.

Fresco of the Last Judgment

On the opposite side, where the entrance to the church is, is another huge mosaic from the second half of the 12th century with the theme of the Last Judgement in five superimposed zones.

Santa Assunta, roof

View from the tower to the nave and the Fosca church next to it.

Pictures from Torcello

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