San Giovanni in Bragora is one of the more peaceful and oldest Venice churches. St. Magnus of Oderzo founded the church in the early 8th century. According to the legend, he dreamt of God ordering him to do so. Today the church is a beautiful site known as a place where Antonio Vivaldi and Pope Paul II were baptized.
Getting to the church
If you want to find San Giovanni in Bragora, look for the Castello neighborhood on the Venice map. This lovely church stands on Campo Bandiera e Moro, close to Riva Degli Schiavoni, a famous waterfront promenade. If you arrive by a vaporetto, the nearest stops are S. Marco - San Zaccaria or Arsenale, each less than 5 minutes away. But it’s very close to St. Mark’s Basilica and St. Mark’s Square, so you can walk here after exploring the best of Venice.
History & architecture
San Giovanni in Bragora has undergone a few significant changes during its existence. The church was rebuilt in the 9th century to house St. John the Baptist relics. Then again in 1178, and again in 1475, by architect Sebastiano Mariani da Lugano. During the last renovation, the church got a late Gothic-style brick facade. In 1743, the team, run by architect Giorgio Massari, redecorated the church.
Inside San Giovanni in Bragora
The church might look a bit plain from the outside. Yet, it’s what’s inside that attracts visitors from all over the world. San Giovanni in Bragora is also home to the entire body of St. John the Almsgiver and a piece of the True Cross. Those who appreciate exquisite art will find their place here. One of the most impressive pieces is The Baptism of Christ, a work by Giambattista Cima da Conegliano, surrounded by a marble frame by Sebastiano Mariani of Lugano. Another worthy artwork is The Saviour Blessing by Alvise Vivarini. On the main altar is a 1685 work of Girolamo Livioni, and next to it are two statues of the Saints by Heinrich Meyring. Here you’ll also notice paintings by Jacopo Marieschi and a work by Palma the Younger above the entrance.
Things to do in the area
Castello is the largest out of six Venice neighborhoods (or sestiere). Wandering around its streets, you will get a good feeling of how the locals live. It’s home to the Arsenal, the former naval depot, and a current exhibition venue for the Venice Biennale. To get there, you can cross Ponte Storto or Ponte Erizzo. Here you will also find the Naval History Museum. And if you want to explore more Venice churches, there are a few fantastic sites nearby. Don’t miss Chiesa della Pietà and San Zaccaria, the iconic St. Mark’s Basilica, and the Doge’s Palace. The latest are part of the San Marco sestiere.
Monday - Saturday
10:30am–1:30pm & 2:30–5pm