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

Padua: Jacopo Marcello, the Captain who shouldn’t have died

Big Names

Ca’ Marcello in Piombino Dese, Italy is a beautiful eighteenth-century Venetian villa still inhabited today by the Marcello Counts, a...


Venice: What’s the traditional Redentore food?

Local Traditions

The number one traditional celebration, celebrated every year the third weekend of July, Redentore gives thanks for the end of the terr...


Venice: The village of Dolo and its inhabitants

Figures of speech

In the province of Venice there is a small village, Dolo, which doesn’t have a great reputation... The dialect expression ‘Ma te vi...


Venice: The crypt of the church of San Simeone Piccolo

Unknown places & works

As soon as you leave the train station in Venice, you will see the imposing dome of the church of San Simeone Piccolo, renovated in the...


Top posts

Padua: Prato della Valle in Padua

Historical Curiosities

Probably only the inhabitants of Padua and a few other people know of a particular record their city is boasting about: having the larg...


Treviso: Castelbrando in Cison di Valmarino

Unknown places & works

The province of Treviso offers its visitors many places steeped in history and imbued with charm ... One of these is definitely Castelb...


Venice: The tomb of Antonio Canova in the Frari Cathedral in Venice

Mysteries & Legends

When visiting the splendid Frari Cathedral in Venice a pyramid can be seen in front of the church… Why is such a ...


Venice: The Empress Sissi in Venice

Big Names

The Empress Sissi (1837-18989), the wife of Austria Emperor Francesco Giuseppe of Habsburg, has remained in the collective imagination ...