In the Venetian lagoon between Venice herself and the island of Murano, this unusual isle bears a church along with the civic cemetery. Considered part of the Cannarregio district, the red brick-walled island has been the city's cemetery since 1797, when Napoleon decreed that all burial places had to be located outside the cities. The walls were built around the existing church of San Michele, built in 1469 by Mauro Codussi, the architect responsible for many Venetian churches and structures, includng the landmark tower in Piazza San Marco.

San Michele was the first Renaissance church in Venice and its facade became a model for many others to follow, including the church of San Zaccaria. The facade is faced with creamy white travertine. A brick bell tower was added. The church includes a lovely hexagonal chapel, the Cappella Emiliana, capped by a dome.

Outside, a Gothic doorway leads to the cloister of the adjacent monastery, a silent, spiritual space outlined in colonnades. The monastery was established by the Benedictines, though today it is occupied by the Franciscan order. Beyond the cloister is the cemetery. There are sections for Greek Orthodox, foreigners and Protestants apart from the more prevalent Catholic burials. The expansive grounds provide a park-like setting.

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Address in Venice:

Isola di San Michele.

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