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Home arrow churches arrow le chiese di chorus arrow Church of San Pietro di Castello
Church of San Pietro di Castello Print E-mail

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The Church of San Pietro di Castello played a central role in Venetian history. From 775 to 1451 it was a Diocesan Church under the Patriarchate of Grado, then it became a Cathedral in its own right and the seat of the Patriarch of Venice. San Pietro stands on the island of Olivolo, which was the first settlement in the lagoon and became the religious, political and commercial centre of the nascent city. The first church here was built in the 7th century and dedicated to the Byzantine saints Sergius and Baccus, whilst the new church, dedicated to St. Peter the Apostle, was built in the 9th century. The present building is the result of work carried out at the end of the 16th and during the first three decades of the 17th century. The facade is the work of Francesco Smeraldi, but based on original designs by Andrea Palladio (1556); whilst the imposing bell-tower in Istrian stone is an elegant Renaissance structure designed by Mauro Codussi (1482-1490).


San Pietro di CastelloSan Pietro di CastelloSan Pietro di CastelloSan Pietro di CastelloSan Pietro di Castello

The Latin-cross interior has a central nave and two side aisles and is surmounted by an impressive cupola. Most of the decoration is 17th century. Note the high altar of inlaid polychrome marble, which was designed in 1649 by Baldassare Longhena. The ancient standing of this church is "confirmed" by the presence of the so-called Throne of St. Peter, that is an assemblage of parts (probably put together in the 13th century) and incorporates an old Arab funeral stele. The main artistic treasures of the church include a large Cross of wood and embossed copper, again an assemblage of Romanesque, Byzantine and 14th-century work, and Pietro Liberi's masterpiece The Plague of Serpents painted in 1660 (the former in the chapel to the left, the latter to the right of presbytery). The Vendramin and Lando Chapels in the north transept are of particular importance. The former is the work of Baldassare Longhena and contains a fine Madonna and Child with Souls in Purgatory by Luca Giordano (1650), the latter is a Late Gothic structure with a mosaic altarpiece by Zuccato (based on a Tintoretto cartoon) and a fragment of Roman mosaic decorating the predella of the altar.

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