Church of San Giacomo di Rialto – Venice, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Church of San Giacomo di Rialto

According to tradition, the oldest church in Venice, but its actual age is a mystery. 

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Venice has a lot of churches—hundreds—and most of them are very old, but according to tradition, the oldest of them all is the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto.

Located just next to the famous Rialto Bridge, this church is said to have been consecrated on March 25, 421, on the very date of the legendary founding of Venice. Documents dating back to the 14th century attribute the building of the church to a carpenter, helped by people from the nearby city of Padua. Modern studies seem to disprove this story, suggesting a much later date for the church. It does not appear in a 1097 map, and the first document citing the church dates from 1152.

San Giacomo di Rialto is a peculiar church regardless of its age, featuring a bell-gable instead of the traditional bell tower, and a large, 24-hour clock with just one hand and a rotated quadrant, which puts noon on the left and midnight is on the right. The church also features one of the last few remaining Gothic porticoes in Venice. The important Rialto market took place in front of the church and there are some inscriptions on the apse inviting the merchants to be honest.