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San Pietro di Castello 
Jpg: Philip Resheph 


Until 1807, San Pietro in Castello was the cathedral of Venice, and its remote position testifies to the determination of the Venetian government to keep the clerical authorities well away from the centres of temporal power. The island of  San Pietro may be connected to the rest of Venice by two long bridges, but even today it has a distinctly insular feel to it. 

There has probably been a church here since the seventh century, but the present building was constructed in 1557 to a design by Andrea Palladio. San Pietro's lofty interior looks as if it has seen better days, but it does contain some minor gems. The body of the first patriarch of Venice, San Lorenzo Giustiniani, is preserved in an urn elaborately supported by angels above the high altar: a magnificent piece of baroque theatricality designed by Baldassare Longhena (1649). 

In the right-hand aisle is perhaps the  church's most interesting artefact, the so-called `St Peter's Throne', a delicately carved marble work from Antioch containing a Moslem funerary stele and verses from the Koran. The baroque Vendramin Chapel in the left transept was again designed by Longhena, and contains a Virgin and Child by the prolific Neapolitan Luca Giordano. Outside the entrance to the chapel is a late work by Paolo Veronese, Sts John the Evangelist, Peter and Paul. 

San Pietro's canalside `church green' of scrappy grass under towering trees and a punch-drunk Gothic campanile is a charming place to relax and have a picnic after a busy morning's sightseeing.  
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By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2004 all rights reserved
Created 11/3/2000

Updated 07/29/2004