The massive pyramid in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is famous for containing the heart of the famous neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova. The master designed many outstanding monuments in Venice, so the city decided to honor and perpetuate his memory in such an original way.

tombstone of antonio canova in venice

Entry related to location: Venice

Located in the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (simply known as the Frari Church), the pyramid with the Tomb of Antonio Canova holds the heart of the Italian neoclassical sculptor. It is in a monument that is strangely different from many other tombs in the wonderful Gothic basilica.

The pyramidal structure, surrounded by statues, was created by Canova’s five students after the death of the master in 1822. It is based on a design that Canova independently developed for a tomb for the Venetian painter Titian. The shape of the pyramid and other details are Masonic symbols indicating Canova’s membership in the Masonic lodge.

The sculptor’s heart is set inside a monument in Frari’s nave, a white marble memorial to a red-brick draped church from the 14th century. The right hand of the artist was preserved in the Venetian Academy of Arts in Venice, and the rest of his body was buried in his native city of Possagno, in the Tempio Canoviano temple built according to his designs. The Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is open to the public, entrance is €3.50. This is one of the three largest churches in Venice.