San Zaccaria, Venice

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Facade of the church

San Zaccaria is a church in Venice, northern Italy, dedicated to St. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, whose body it supposedly contains (under the second altar on the right). It is a large edifice, located in the quiet Campo San Zaccaria, just off the waterfront to the south east of St. Mark's basilica.

The crypt

The present church was built in a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles between 1458 and 1515. Antonio Gambello was the original architect, who started the building in the Gothic style, but the upper part of the facade with its arched windows and its columns, and the upper parts of the interior were completed by Mauro Codussi (also spelled Coducci) in early Renaissance style seventy years later. Codussi also enriched the facade with Renaissance panels. The facade is a harmonious Venetian mixture of late-Gothic and Renaissance styles.

The first church on the site was founded by Doge Giustiniano Participazio in the 9th century and eight doges are buried in the still existing crypt. The original Romanesque church was rebuilt in the 1170s (when the present campanile was built) and was replaced by a Gothic church in the 14th century. The church was attached to a Benedictine monastery, which was visited by the doge and the whole signoria annually at Easter in a ceremony which included presentation of the cornu (ducal cap), insignia of his dignity. This tradition was begun after the monks donated land for the extension of the Piazza San Marco in the 12th century and ended in 1797 at the end of the republic. The nuns of this monastery came all from prominent noble families and had a rebellious reputation.The abbess was usually related to the doge.

The interior of the church has an apse surrounded by an ambulatory lit by tall Gothic windows, a typical feature of Northern European church architecture which is unique in Venice. Nearly every wall is covered with paintings by 17th and 18th century artists. The church houses one of the most famous work by Giovanni Bellini, the San Zaccaria Altarpiece. The walls of the aisles are entirely covered with paintings by other artists including Tintoretto, Angelo Trevisani, Giuseppe Salviati, Antonio Balestra, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Palma the Elder and Van Dyck.

The artist Alessandro Vittoria is buried in the church, his tomb marked by a self-portrait bust.

The relics of Athanasius of Alexandria are kept in the church.

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Coordinates: 45°26′05″N 12°20′36″E / 45.43472°N 12.34333°E / 45.43472; 12.34333