San Zaccaria, located only a few minutes from St. Mark's Basilica, is one of the great Venice churches. This church, dedicated to St. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, holds his relics. When touring the church, you can find them under the second altar on the right. The church also has the remains of sculptor Alessandro Vittoria and Venetian doges.
Getting into the church
San Zaccaria has a convenient position on the Venice map. The nearest water bus stops are San Zaccaria Zolanda & San Zaccaria MVE. Both are about 2 minutes walking distance from the church. The entrance to the main part of the church is free, but there is a charge to enter the church's crypt.
Architecture of San Zaccaria
This Venice church is a perfect blend of flamboyant Gothic and classical Renaissance styles. The original church was built in the 9th century, and you can still see the remains of the old building on site. The church went through complete rebuilding in 1458 and 1515. Antonio Gambello began the construction in the Gothic style but died before finishing in 1481. Mauro Coducci then finalized the building and added classical details of the early Renaissance style. The church's campanile is also ancient, dating back to the 1170s.
History of San Zaccaria
The adjoining Benedictine convent became well-known for the riotous behavior of the nuns. The majority were from noble Venetian families, many of them sent to the convent to avoid the expense of a dowry. The church had a special place in Venetian society thanks to the Doge's annual Easter visit. It was an expression of gratitude to the nuns, who sacrificed parts of their gardens so Piazza San Marco could expand. Yet, the church also has a dark reputation due to three dogs killed on the nearby streets of Venice.
Inside the church
The church's interior is mesmerizing. San Zaccaria has a beautiful apse and tall and slender Gothic windows. There are also many other Northern European churchs architecture features.
The artistic highlight of the interior is Giovanni Bellini's rich San Zaccaria Altarpiece. The painting was stolen during Napoleon's occupation and kept in Paris for twenty years, only to return in 1817. On the church's right is a door to the Chapel of St. Athanasius. You can enjoy a 1550s Tintoretto painting, The Birth of John the Baptist. From there, continue to the Chapel of San Tarasio. It is decorated with vault frescoes by Andrea del Castagno of Florence. There is also a dazzling Madonna and Child with Saints, created by Palma il Vecchio in 1512. The Callido organ, dating back to 1790, is the only 18th-century organ in Venice available to tourists.
Another exciting part of the church is the crypt, where you can find the relics of eight doges. The crypt is the oldest existing part of the original church. Due to the tides in Venice, it is flooded most of the year.
Things to do in the area
The church is located in the Castello sestiere, the largest neighborhood in Venice. In this area, you can find the Arsenal, a naval base and one of the earliest big industrial enterprises ever. If you want to know more about the maritime history of Venice, check out the Naval History Museum. The church is also a stone's throw from Riva degli Schiavoni, one of the world's greatest promenades. Then there is Via Garibaldi, a wider boulevard with shops, restaurants, and bars. The church is not far from the famous St. Mark's Basilica, Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, and Chiesa della Pietà.