The Church of San Pietro di Castello is an important church in Venice, which, until 1807, it was the city’s cathedral. The church is located on the northeastern area of Venice, in the Castello sestiere, not far from the Arsenale.
As reported by the chronicler Giovanni Diacono, the building of the Church of San Pietro began around 822, and was completed nine years later, probably in 831. In 1120, a fire devastated the church, and a new larger structure was built, with a baptistery next to it dedicated to San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist), now lost.
In 1451, with the suppression of the Patriarchate of Grado and the constitution of the Diocese of Castello of the Patriarchate of Venice, by the bull of Pope Nicholas V, the Basilica of Saint Peter became the new Cathedral of Venice.
Between 1508 and 1524, the Patriarch Antonio Contarini decided to carry out restoration works on the ceiling, the vaults and the floor of the church. Between 1512 and 1526, the minor chapels were rebuilt and the decorations were redone.
In 1558, the Patriarch Vienzo Diedo commissioned Andrea Palladio to rebuilt the facade and the interior of church. However, the Patriarch died before the plans could be implemented, and the works were resumed in 1596, under the direction of the architect Francesco Smeraldi. From 1619, Gerolamo Grapiscia took care of the interior, under the patriarchate of Giovanni Tiepolo.
With the fall of the Venetian Republic, in 1807, at the behest of Napoleon, the patriarchal headquarters were moved to San Marco, and the St. Mark’s Basilica became the new Cathedral of Venice.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The current facade of the church does not exactly reflect the original design of Andrea Palladio, but is faithful to its essential lines. There is a tripartite system, with the central part raised, resting on four half-columns, on which is placed a tympanum.
The church has a Latin cross plan with three naves divided by three arches each, with an altar inside. At the intersection with the transept, we can find the large dome.
The large high altar, in which the remains of San Lorenzo Giustiniani, the first Patriarch of Venice, are preserved, and the Vendramin Chapel, located in the left aisle, were designed by the architect Baldassarre Longhena. The Vendramin Chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Carmine, contains bas-reliefs by Michele Ungaro and houses the altarpiece of Luca Giordano of the Madonna with Child and souls of Purgatory.
Inside the church, we can find the Throne of St. Peter, cut from an ancient Islamic funeral stone, bearing decorative Arabic motifs and engravings of verses from the Quran.
The bell tower, started in 1463, was damaged by lightning and rebuilt in 1482 by Mauro Codussi, in Istrian stone.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest waterbus stop is San Pietro di Castello, located about 450 meters away, on the waterbus Lines 4.1, 4.2, 5.1 and 5.2. To find the church on foot, use the map below.