Church of San Zaccaria

This magnificent and tranquil church features wonderful paintings, including a stunning altarpiece by Bellini.

TravelCurious Tip

Many visitors miss the opportunity to fully illuminate Bellini’s stunning altarpiece. Simply drop a 50 cent coin in the slot and enjoy the explosion of colour that ensues.

Located just to the south-east of St. Mark’s Square, the church of San Zaccaria is a gleaming blend of architectural styles. Building started in 1458 under the direction of architect Antonio Gambello, whose vision was one of a distinctly Gothic church. However, the work was completed by Mauro Codussi nearly 70 years later, by which time the Renaissance style was very much in vogue. The result is an ornate lower façade topped by a distinctive semicircular gable and supporting side quadrants, a mixture whose effortless grace is a testament to the skill of both men.

A Feast of Colour

The interior is visually spectacular. Nearly every wall is covered with paintings from renowned 16th, 17th and 18th century artists. Foremost among these is the magnum opus of Giovanni Bellini, the San Zaccaria Altarpiece, which vividly depicts the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus, surrounded by four saints. One feature of the church which is unique in Venice is the radiating layout of chapels behind the altar. These are not to be missed. The Cappella dell'Addolorata contains curious cases of ancient relics, while the splendid Chapel of San Tarasio houses an almost unbelievably intricate Gothic golden altarpiece, sitting beneath a beautiful set of frescoes.

A Watery Grave

Another remarkable feature of the church is the crypt. As you might expect from a 500-year-old Venetian building, its underground level is flooded, but this merely adds to the romantic ambience. You can admire the reflections of the tombs, which are gently illuminated from above, as they appear to float between the simple stone columns and arches.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Venice
Bridge of Sighs
According to legend, convicts would sigh as they walked this bridge before being imprisoned in the Prigioni Nuove.
Doge's Palace
Originally home to Venice’s most powerful man, this Gothic masterpiece is one of the city’s top attractions.
Porta della Carta
This 15th-century gate was constructed as the entrance to the Doge's Palace.
Scala d'Oro
The Golden Staircase at the Dodge's Palace.
Doge's Palace prisons
The palace has been used from the residence of the Doge to the prison of the Venetian republic.
Scala dei Giganti
The inner courtyard's stairs that led to the doge's private quarters are flanked by huge statues of Mars and Neptune.

Related Tours

Venice Like a Local: Castello Neighbourhood Private Walking Tour
Explore Venice's Castello neighbourhood like a local Venetian on this immersive three-hour walking tour with your expert private guide. Castello, stretching from the centre near Rialto in the west to Arsenale and Giardini in the east, is the largest of Venice's six sestiere or districts and unique in its preservation of residential charm and character. This is truly authentic Venice. 

On your private walking tour, you will:

  • Begin with a visit to the beautiful church of San Zaccaria, just a few minutes from Piazza San Marco; 
  • Admire the magnificent interior famous for Bellini's spectacular altarpiece, the imposing funeral monument of the sculptor Alessandro Vittoria, and works by many famous artists throughout the church including Tintoretto and Van Dyck;
  • Head below stairs to see the atmospherically flooded crypt and tombs of the doges;
  • Explore the Greek Quarter, admiring the exterior of the 16th-century Church of San Giorgio dei Greci;
  • Learn all about Venice's past naval might and power at the grand entrance gate, designed by Bellini, to the Arsenale;
  • Cross the iconic wooden footbridge, Ponte de Quintavalle;
  • Explore the island of San Pietro once the site of a 6th-century castle that became the namesake of the 'Castello' Neighbourhood;
  • Visit the stunning Basilica of San Pietro di Castello, the Cathedral of Venice until 1807 when the title was transferred to St. Mark's Basilica (entrance tickets included);
  • Wander around the tranquil, peaceful Gardens of Venice 'Giardini della Biennale' - a far cry from the madding crowds;
  • Walk along the scenic waterfront called "Riva dei Sette Martiri" (Shore of the Seven martyrs), named to commemorate Venetians that were shot here by the Nazis in 1944;
  • Walk up Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, one of the rare wide and straight streets of Venice - a filled-in former canal and a favourite meeting location for locals thanks to its many restaurants and bars where your guide can make recommendations for the best bars and eateries.

Enjoy a three-hour private walking tour of Venice's Castello district. The largest of the six sestiere's of Venice, Castello (meaning Castle) is famous for its charm and authenticity. Castello is the local Venice you wouldn't normally see without a private guide to take you off the beaten track, down quaint streets, to see hidden gems like San Zaccaria and the Giardini.  

Your tour begins at the stunning San Zaccaria church. Built in the 15th century on top of and next to 7th and 11th-century versions, it houses many masterpieces by famous artists and conceals a flooded crypt below. Learn about the adjoining convent, once a destination for curious Venetian girls who were deemed too promiscuous! 

Walk along the beautiful seafront pathway and gaze upon the horizon dotted with beautiful isoli (islands) and their church spires. Next, stop by the imposing Arsenale Gate - designed by Bellini and learn all about Venice's military and naval power.

Cross the wooden Quintavale footbridge onto the island of Saint Peter - where a sixth-century castle once stood, and now lends its name to the area. Tour the Basilica of San Pietro - often empty of visitors this is an overlooked marvel, housing the throne of St Peter, which according to legend, once hid the Holy Grail.

Next, enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the Giardini Pubblici, a garden creation of Napoleon Bonaparte, which was built on the site of many torn-down religious sites. From here, you'll walk along the waterfront called the Shore of the Seven Martyrs, and on up to Via Giuseppe Garibaldi - named for the famous Italian General Republican, this is one of the widest streets in Venice, as it is a filled-in canal. 

You'll see it's popular with locals, thrumming as it is with lively bars and restaurants. Your tour ends here, in the heart of Castello, and your guide will be only too happy to make recommendations! 


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