The Church of San Giovanni Battista Decollato (Saint John the Baptist Beheaded), abbreviated in the Venetian dialect as San Zan Degolà, is a church located in the sestiere (district) of Santa Croce, in Venice.
The church was probably founded in the 8th century, but the first documented information about the structure dates back to the beginning of the 11th century, when the church was rebuilt by the Venier family, residing in a palace nearby.
In 1213, the church was renovated at the expense of the Pesaro family, and again in 1703, when the current facade and the bell tower were built.
In 1807, the Napoleonic decrees suppressed the parish and led to the deconsecration of the church, which was transformed into a warehouse. In 1818, the church was reopened and assigned to the parish of San Giacomo dall’Orio, to which it still belongs as a vicarial church.
Today, the church is the seat of the Russian Orthodox Christian community and the liturgies are held regularly every week.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The church is one of the rare examples of Venetian-Byzantine architecture that remained fairly intact in its original conception up to the present day. Only the facade and the bell tower are newer, beeing rebuilt in the 18th century.
The interior is very simple, with three naves divided by two rows of four Greek marble columns with Byzantine capitals, from the 11th century.
Of great value are the remains of the recently discovered frescoes depicting the heads of four saints (Giovanni, Pietro, Tommaso and Marco) and Empress Sant’Elena who carries the Cross, also from the 11th century. Other frescoes from the 15th century adorn the chapel to the right of the presbytery.
The high altar dates back to the beginning of the 18th century.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest waterbus stop is Riva de Biasio, located about 180 meters away, on the waterbus Lines 1, 5.1 and 5.2. To find the church on foot, use the map below.
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