Hidden treasures

The San Zan Degolà Church in Venice

Unknown places & works
Chiesa_San_Zan_Degola

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: What to see in the island of Burano

burano
Unknown places & works

The island of Burano is really a sight to behold and a great emotion for your heart: every year thousands of tourists venture into our ...

View

Venice: Discovering the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, what to see and how to reach it

isola_di_san_giorgio_maggiore
Unknown places & works

One of you may have had the chance to photograph, while travelling in Venice, the marvelous panorama in front of the historic St Mark...

View

Treviso: The legendary origins of Treviso

treviso
Unknown places & works

It is well known knowledge that the more ancient a place is, the more legends there are telling of its founding: this is the case of th...

View

Venice: The iconostasis of St. Mark’s Basilica

iconostasi-basilica-san-marco
Unknown places & works

Entering St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the first thing everyone does spontaneously is to lift their gaze up to the magnificent golden...

View

Top posts

Padua: Giotto’s Vices and Virtues in the Scrovegni Chapel

Carità-e-Invidia
Historical Curiosities

The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua contains one of the most significant masterpieces of all time: the great fresco cycle by Giotto. Among th...

View

Venice: The red stone of the 'Sotoportego de la peste'

sotoportego-de-la-peste
Mysteries & Legends

Walking around Venice along the narrow streets and across the squares, you could happen to notice strange slabs on the pavement... whic...

View

Venice: Titian's paintings in the Sacristy of the Basilica della Salute

tiziano-salute-venezia
Big Names

The Basilica della Salute is one of the most important religious places in Venice ... it was constructed to commemorate the end of the ...

View

Verona: The Giusti Garden and Goethe’s cypress

giardino-giusti
Unknown places & works

It is no coincidence that Italy has been dubbed 'the land of gardens' .... Every town, village or hamlet has a garden, perhaps with a c...

View