The Oldest Church in Venice

The church of San Giacomo di Rialto, Venice
I am particularly fond of San Giacomo di Rialto (aka San Giacometto, on account of its small size), which, according to legend, was the first church to be built in Venice. Although the church sits in one of the busiest parts of the city, it remains, for the most part, an oasis of peace and tranquillity. 

San Giacometto is an integral part of the origin myth of Venice, which is supposed to have taken place at noon on March 25th, 421. The church was allegedly built, very soon after, to mark this momentous event. 

Of all the saints in the celestial pantheon, why should Venice have chosen to dedicate its first church to Saint James? Well, it seems that the saint intervened to quell a fire, which threatened the existence of the fledgling city. 
San Giacomo di Rialto, Venice
The saint came up trumps again in 1514 when San Giacometto was one of the few buildings to survive a terrible fire, which destroyed much of the Rialto. 
San Giacomo di Rialto, Venice
A copper statue of Saint James, complete with his attributes (scallop shell, pilgrim's hat and staff), stands atop the belfry. 

Putting the legend of its foundation aside, the church we see today only dates back to the 11th or early 12th century. The gothic portico (one of only two to survive in the city) was added in the 15th century. 


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