VENICE — Castello Area

Castello is Venice’s largest quarter, extending from the Rialto to Sant’Elena in the eastern part of the city. This was one of the earliest parts of Venice to be settled — in the 5th to 6th centuries. At its centre are the defensive walls of Venice’s once mighty shipyard, the Arsenale. It is a mixture of important monuments and expensive waterfront hotels.

Some of the more famous sights found in this area are:
Arsenale
Cattedrale di San Pietro di Castello
Chiesa dei SS Giovanni E Paolo
Chiesa di San Francesco della Vigna
Chiesa di San Giorgio dei Greci
Chiesa di San Lio
Chiesa di San Martino
Chiesa di San Zaccaria

Arsenale

Arsenale
The Arsenal, or naval dockyard, was the place where the Venetians erected the famous workshops in which their powerful military and mercantile fleets were built and for centuries was a source of pride and fortune. The name ‘Arsenale’ seems to be a corruption of the Arabic darsina’a, meaning ‘house of industry’ from which comes the Italian word darsena. The Arsenale was built on two islands called ‘Gemelle’ (meaning twins) in the year 1104 and was surrounded by high walls and square towers emblazoned with the symbolic winged lion. In the structure’s busier periods more than 16,000 workers were employed there and was home to 300 shipping companies. It was continually enlarged until it attained a considerable size — the entire north-east edge of Venice between the San Pietro di Castello Canal, La Tana, San Martino and San Francesco della Vigna. It still belongs to the navy but is used mostly as an exhibition centre and is well worth a visit because of the variety and historical and artistic interest of the exhibits which are mostly centred around a naval theme.

Cattedrale id San Pietro di Castello

Cattedrale di San Pietro di Castello
This was the Cathedral of Venice until 1807, when the title passed to St Mark’s. Inside you will find an impressive marble throne in the arab-muslim style, frescos attributed to Pietro Ricchi, the principal altar that is attributed to Moli and La Pala Madonna con Bambino e Purged Souls by Luca Giordano.

Chiesa die SS Giovanni E Paolo

Chiesa dei SS Giovanni E Paolo
The interior of this huge Gothic church is divided into an enormous central nave and two aisles, separated by graceful,soaring arches. Many artists contributed to its design, including Bartolomeo Vivarini, Cima da Conegliano and Girolamo Mocetto. Below the window and just to the right is a pala (altarpiece) by Lorenzo Lotto. Please look for the five late-Gothic apses, graced by long and slender windows. Around the walls, many of the 25 tombs of dogi were sculpted by prominent Gothic and Renaissance artists, in particular Pietro and Tullio Lombardo and Nino Pisano.

Traveller's Tip

Please look at the beautiful stained-glass window made in Murano in the 15th century and restored in the 1980s at the southern end of the church.
Chiesa di San Francesco Della Vigna

Chiesa di San Francesco Della Vigna
This church takes its unusual name from the vineyard that was once found here. The facade was designed by Palladio and the rest of the church by Sansovino. It has a bell tower at the back very like the Campanile in St Mark’s Square. In the interior there are some impressive paintings including works by Tintoretto and Bellini.

Chiesa di San Giorgio dei Greci

Chiesa di San Giorgio dei Greci
This church is interesting because of the magnificence of its Byzantine icons and other art. Amongst the notable works of art on display are the 14th century icon of the Blessing of Christ located on the left side of the Royal gate, the golden mosaic of Christ enthroned and flanked by Mary and St John the Baptist in the Sanctuary, and the two iconostasis columns. The central panel of the richly ornate iconostasis contains a simple but cleverly designed mosaic of the Annunciation, which also serves as the focal point of the nave. The ceiling is decorated by a superb 16th century fresco of the Last Judgement by Giovanni di Cipro.

Traveller's Tip

Make sure you take your time to look at one of the side doors where there is an eye-catching mosaic of St George slaying the dragon.

Chiesa di San Lio
This church is worth looking at for its wonderful ceiling fresco by Tiepolo. Canaletto was buried here.

Chiesa di San Martino
Another great ceiling fresco worth a look.

Chiesa di San Zaccaria

Chiesa di San Zaccaria
This was the doge’s parish church. It is a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance designs. Once again this church contains some beautiful paintings by Bellini, Tintoretto and Tiepolo.

There are some more places that you might be interested to visit and these include: Giardini Pubblici & Biennale — the city’s public gardens and the pavilions of the Biennale Internazionale d’Arte (Venice’s contemporary arts festival held every two years from June to November); Museo dell Icone also known as the Museum of Holy Byzantine Paintings; Museo Diocesano d’Arte Sacre — with its beautiful Romanesque cloister before you go into the museum and Museo Storico Navale — a museum of maritime history with lots of boat models.