The most impressive churches of Venice are those of the medieval mendicant orders, the Dominicans and Franciscans. The Dominican church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (San Zanipolo in the Venetian dialect; founded in 1246 and consecrated in 1430), is of rose-coloured stone, its vast interior designed for the large congregations of urban poor whom it served.
As a burial place, it was favoured by noble families; a number of doges lie there, commemorated by richly wrought sepulchral monuments. The church's altarpieces, painted by Titian and Giovanni Bellini, were partially destroyed in a fire in 1867.
The commemorative statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, a condottiere, or professional soldier, who had been employed by the Venetian republic was erected in 1496 in the Piazza SS. Giovanni e Paolo, in front of the church.
In 1483 Verrocchio was commissioned by the Venetian government to undertake this bronze sculpture. At Verrocchio's death the model was not yet cast, and the work of casting and chasing, or polishing, was entrusted to the Venetian sculptor Alessandro Leopardi.