In 1630, over 50 years after the terrible plague of 1575-77, the disease gripped Venice once more. Doge Nicolò Contarini made a public vow to erect a church called the Salute, asking for the Virgin Mary’s divine intercession to rid the city of the plague. Eleven architects took part in the competition to build the church and the winner was Baldassarre Longhena. His design perfectly captured the grandiosity and magnificence that the Serenissima wanted: a church that exalted the Holy Virgin and the Republic at the same time.
From an urban and scenic viewpoint, the enormous church, situated where the Grand Canal flows into Saint Mark’s Basin, served to counterbalance the awesome domes of Saint Mark’s Basilica and further embellish the landscape.Externally the octagonal design is distinguished by architectural perspectives, the most grandiose of all being the main facade with its impressive portal, emphasised by the wide stairway leading to it.