Hidden treasures

The San Zan Degolà Church in Venice

Unknown places & works

The San Zan Degolà Church in Venice

The ancient San Zan Degolà church (i.e. San Giovanni Decollato, in Venetian dialect) is located in a quiet corner of Venice, away from the flow of tourists.

The building is a rare example of Venetian-Byzantine architecture that has been preserved in its original conception to the present day. Only the facade and the chunky bell tower have different shapes, having been rebuilt in the 18th century (the original tower was located roughly in the centre of the square). The interior is very simple, with an overturned ship's hull roofing. The three naves are divided by two rows of four precious Greek marble columns with Byzantine capitals (XI century). Also the remains of the recently discovered frescoes, depicting the heads of four saints (John, Peter, Thomas and Marco) and St. Elena Empress who carries the cross on a background of architecture (XI century), are believed to be the oldest in Venice and of great value.

In order to visit it, you have to 'participate' in a mass of the Russian Orthodox community, to which it has been entrusted, (just turn up on a Sunday morning and be discreet!!!)

The Church is also linked to a dismal history: it is said that inside, on 21st November 1500, the priest who was officiating at San Zan Degolà, priest Francis, exterminated an entire family. The man was sentenced to death soon after on the 19th December: first his right hand was cut off in front of the killed family's home and then he was executed in St Mark's Square. The reasons for the terrible deed have never been discovered.

To discover other unusual places in Venice, mysteries and fascinating anecdotes about the history of this city, it is possible to agree with Francesca – our brilliant guide who is in charge of this column - a customized itinerary in line with your interests and your needs!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: The reredos of the Chapter Hall of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice

Unknown places & works

When visiting the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice - perhaps one of the most significant monuments of the lagoon city - one is alwa...

View

Vicenza: The Odeon cinema in Vicenza, one of the oldest in the world

Historical Curiosities

Perhaps not everyone knows that in Vicenza there is one of the oldest cinemas in the world, still open today! Originally the hall was a...

View

Venice: The bells of St. Mark’s Bell Tower in Venice

Historical Curiosities

St Mark’s Bell Tower in St. Mark's Square is one of the symbols of Venice, but not everyone knows that the original building collapse...

View

Treviso: Carlo Scarpa’s Brion Tomb in Altivole

Big Names

Near Asolo, the reign of the queen Catherine Corner, there is a small village called Altivole... Its cemetery is renowned for containin...

View

Top posts

Venice: The Rialto Bridge in Venice and the Doge's daughter

Mysteries & Legends

There are many stories and legends related to the famous Rialto bridge on the Grand Canal in Venice, but few people know the one that h...

View

Venice: Campo delle Gatte in Venice

Unknown places & works

The names of the streets in Venice can be very unusual… For example, when you walk around the Castello district, you will come across...

View

Venice: The Doge Enrico Dandolo and the conquest of Constantinople

Big Names

The history of the Venetian Republic was inextricably linked to the Doge's charismatic personality, but also adventurers and traitors, ...

View

Venice: The three wellheads of the San Trovaso Church

Historical Curiosities

In the charming Dorsoduro district in Venice, there is the ancient church of Saints Gervasio and Protasio, called San Trovaso in Veneti...

View