ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE HOMES

The site was symbolic in other ways too. It was already occupied by a church dedicated to the Trinita; and since the Middle Ages the Trinity had been closely associated in Christian imagery with the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. 27 As Wittkower pointed out, the site also lies at the centre of an imaginary semicircle joining the churches of San Marco and the Redentore, the two other great religious monuments erected by the Venetian state. Palladio’s church of San Giorgio Maggiore, too, lies on the perimeter of the same circle. 28 Moreover, the new church was situated at the point where the huge triangular complex of the Dogana, the customs house, joins the rest of the city. This allowed the Salute – a symbol of health and well-being, and of the Virgin’s protection of the city – to function visually as an anchor for Venetian trade, at once so risky and so essential to the Republic’s survival. In their final report of June 1631 the committee of five nobles, appointed to advise the Senate on the choice of the model for the new church, summarized the conditions with which the competitors had had to comply. Most of these were predictable requirements – for instance, that the church should make a grand impression, that the interior should be well lit by this time a general rule in Venetian church building, and that the cost should not be too exorbitant. The most demanding of the stipulations was more unusual – namely, that while the high altar should be clearly visible from the entrance, the others should come into view as one moved through the church.
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