San Pietro di Castello is a church with a great history intertwined with the famous St Mark's Basilica. It is one of the eight Venice churches built by St. Magnus, protected today by membership in the Chorus Association. The Venetians love this church, mainly because of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. During this event, locals and tourists can enjoy concerts, food trucks, and a small market with local produce.
Getting to the church
If you use our Venice map, San Pietro di Castello is easy to find. The church stands in the Castello neighborhood on the island called Olivolo. Cross the wooden San Pietro Bridge if you decide to walk to the church. You can also arrive here by vaporetto. The closest stop is San Pietro di Castello, located only a few meters behind the basilica.
History & architecture
It's interesting to know that San Pietro di Castello is one of the oldest Venice churches. The first official historical records date back to 775, but some say that the church emerged in 650. The church held the title of the Cathedral of Venice from 1451 until 1807, when the gorgeous St Mark's Basilica took its place. It was a magnificent church with a much better location on the Venice map. After that, San Pietro di Castello served as Venice's administrative and religious center.
The design and architecture are a work of a few architects. In 1556, Andrea Palladio designed the construction of the facade and the interior of the church. It was his first Venetian work. But in 1558, Francisco Smeraldi and Giovanni Grapiglia were the ones to finish the facade. The campanile, leaning and made of white Istrian stone, was the 1488 work of Marco Codussi. The church we see today has a Latin cross plan with three naves and an impressive dome. The facade also features a set of four columns.
Inside the church
Exploring San Pietro di Castello is exciting as you'll find incredible historical artifacts. The church keeps the remains of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, to whom the site was originally dedicated. The remains of another Venetian saint, Lorenzo Giustiniani, are on the high marble altar by Clement Moli. It's impossible to overlook the 13th-century Chair of St. Peter, cut from a funeral stone. He used it during his regency as the Bishop of Antioch. Don't miss the Vendramin Chape, designed by the well-known architect Baldassarre Longhena. The altarpiece in it is the work of Luca Giordano. Remember to check out the 1581 altarpiece by Paolo Veronese, depicting St. John the Evangelist, Peter, and Paul. Another valuable art piece is the Madonna and Child with Saints, created by Francesco Ruschi.
Things to do in the area
Castello is the largest neighborhood on the Venice map. There are many exciting things to do and see. The closest to San Pietro di Castello is the well-known Arsenale. If like history, visit the Naval History Museum. You can also explore other churches in the area, all less than 20 minutes away. At veniceXplorer, we've covered San Giovanni in Bragora, Chiesa della Pieta, and San Francesco della Vigna.