Chiesa di San Barnaba, famous as a prominent movie location, is one of the most recognized Venice churches. Indiana Jones fans know the church as the imaginary library from the Last Crusade. But it also was a feature of the Summertime when Katherine Hepburn fell into the adjoining canal. The church was deconsecrated in 1810, and today it hosts art exhibitions. The latest exciting show at Saint Barnabas was about Leonardo Da Vinci.
Getting to the church
Being a part of the Dorsoduro neighborhood, the church is easy to spot on the Venice map. It stands on the waterside campo on the route between the Accademia and Campo Santa Margherita. You can walk here after exploring San Marco by crossing the Ponte dell'Accademia. And if you’d instead take a vaporetto, the closest stop is Ca’ Rezzonico, located less than 200 meters from Saint Barnabas.
History & architecture of Saint Barnabas
Saint Barnabas emerged in 936, financed by the Venetian Adorni family. Did you know how Saint Barnabas got its name? It came from the 18th-century inhabitants of the neighborhood, known as Barnabotti. They were primarily impoverished noblemen drawn here by cheap rents. They could not work but required to wear silk, which was an amusing sight. The church then suffered from the fire of 1105 and underwent reconstruction in 1350.
It got its current look in 1776. Marcantonio Grimani led the rebuilding, relying on the designs of the architect Lorenzo Boschetti. Today, Saint Barnabas is a lovely Neoclassical-style church with an Istrian stone facade. From the architectural point of view, it resembles the Gesuati, as it has a similar facade with Corinthian columns. Its square brick campanile, detached from the church, is one of the oldest bell towers in Venice. It dates back to the year 1000 and is in the Romanesque style.
Inside the church
The church has a single nave with three side altars. When you enter Saint Barnabas, look at the ceiling covered in frescoes. The two large ones are 18th-century frescoes by Costantino Cedini. The church also hosts paintings by famous artists like Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Palma il Giovane. There are also works by Antonio Foler, Francesco Beccaruzzi, and Giuseppe de Gobbis.
Things to do in the area
The Dorsoduro neighborhood is a must for any Venice visitor. In addition to its superb central location on the Venice map, it’s full of exciting attractions. Here you will indulge in art while visiting Punta della Dogana, Peggy Guggenheim, or Accademia Gallery. Besides Saint Barnabas, you can dive into Venetian religious history in Santa Maria della Salute, Santa Maria dei Carmini, or Santa Maria del Rosario. The closest attractions to Saint Barnabas are the gorgeous Ca’ Rezzonico and Ponte dei Pugni.