Tomb of Antonio Canova – Venice, Italy - Atlas Obscura
Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Venice, Italy

Tomb of Antonio Canova

A sinister pyramid in the Frari contains the heart of the famous neoclassical sculptor. 

Located in the basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (known simply as the Frari church), the heart of Italian neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova is enshrined in a monument that strangely differs from the many other tombs in the remarkable Gothic basilica.

The pyramid-shaped structure with its looming statues was created by five of Canova’s students after the master’s death in 1822. It’s based off a design Canova himself had drafted for the tomb for the Venetian painter, Titian. The pyramid shape and other details are Masonic symbols, a nod to Canova’s Freemason membership.

Only the sculptor’s heart is located within the monument in the nave of the Frari, a white marble memorial backdropped by the red brick of the 14th-century church. The artist’s right hand is preserved in the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice and (the rest of) his body is buried in his hometown of Possagno, in the Tempio Canoviano, a church that was built based on his designs.

Know Before You Go

The basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is open to the public, the admission is €3,50. It is one of the three largest churches in the city of Venice.