Chiesa di San Sebastiano


San Sebastiano is one of the most historical Venice churches. This Roman Catholic church is one of the five votive churches, built as a mourning tribute to the plague. Its dedication is to St. Sebastian, who was a patron saint of plague victims in Venice. Yet, the church is most famous for being a monument to the art of Paolo Veronese. He worked there from 1555 to the early 1570s, which resulted in the magnificent embellishment of the church. 

Getting to the church

The church is a part of the artsy Dorsoduro neighborhood and is easy to find on the Venice map. It's located on Fondamenta San Sebastiano, close to the Giudecca Canal. You can either walk here or take a vaporetto. The nearest and most convenient stop is San Basilio, only a few minutes away. 

History and architecture of San Sebastiano

The San Sebastiano location's quite interesting as it stands on the site of a former hospital founded in 1393. This hospital expanded in 1468 and turned into a church. The current structure is the work of Antonio Abbondi, who designed it in 1505. The reconstruction was completed in 1548, and the church was consecrated in 1562. The building has a single nave and a Latin cross plan. The exterior appears in the classical style, while the interior is an example of the Renaissance style. The exterior is striking for its sobriety and the beauty of the bell tower. The facade also features a figure of St. Sebastian, wounded by arrows. 

Inside the church

Once you step into San Sebastiano, you'll see it's a genuine shrine of Veronese's art. He worked on the nave, the upper part of the sacristy, the high altar, and other parts of the church. Frescoes and paintings of all kinds depict significant events from religion and history. Among his most valuable artworks is The Coronation of the Virgin, The Coronation of Esther, and Madonna in Glory with St Sebastian and other Saints. The last painting has a marble frame of the artist's design. 

The ceiling of San Sebastiano features several parts divided by a decorative wooden framework. It creates an unforgettable sight. Unfortunately, though, some of Veronese's art for the church got lost over time. The Chiesa di San Sebastiano also houses the remains of Paolo Veronese, kept there since 1588. You can see his memorial bust to the right of the organ. In addition to the famous Veronese, you'll find works by other well-known painters. The most prominent are Titian and Tintoretto, as well as works by Jacopo Sansovino, Palma il Giovane, and Alessandro Vittoria. 

Things to do in the area

Locals know Dorsoduro as the artsy neighborhood full of famous museums and galleries. The closest stop from the church would be the Accademia Gallery, close to Ponte dell'Accademia. Other gems in this area include Punta della Dogana and Peggy Guggenheim Museum. And if you'd like to explore more Venice churches nearby, visit Santa Maria dei Carmini or Santa Maria del Rosario. You can also try to buy local and stop at the Ca Macana. In this shop, you can find the most gorgeous and creative Venetian masks used for carnivals and other occasions.