The church of San Zaccaria was once attached to one of the most influential convents in Venice, to which only daughters of the most important patrician families were admitted.
The Benedictine convent was established in 829 and its abbess was always the sister, or a close relative, of the doge. Once a year, on September 13th, the anniversary of its consecration, the doge, accompanied by the entire Signoria, would visit the church. Agostina Morosini, an early abbess of the convent, is said to have given Doge Pietro Tradonico (836/7-864), the first corno ducale, the famous headpiece which was worn by every subsequent holder of the office.
The original Romanesque church was rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 14th century. The church's grand façade was commissioned in the 15th century and the chosen architect was Antonio Gambello. However, Gambello died in 1481 having completed only the first storey. His successor was Mauro Codussi.
The church comprises a nave, two aisles and a polygonal apse with an ambulatory, the only one of its kind in Venice. The columns in the nave sit on high octagonal pillars, which in turn rest on beautifully carved marble bases.