Basilica di San Pietro di Castello

Church in Castello

As interesting as it is, St Peter's would be lucky to scrape into the top 10 of Venice's most impressive churches. Yet it served as the city's cathedral from 1451 until 1807, when Napoleon made the entirely reasonable decision that the Basilica di San Marco was a more worthy choice. St Peter's was founded in the 7th century; a rebuild nearly a thousand years later by one of Palladio's protégés resulted in the classical facade and large dome that stand today.

The most intriguing piece inside the church is St Peter’s Throne, which according to legend was used by the Apostle in Antioch and once hid the Holy Grail. While the story has all the makings of a Dan Brown novel, there’s very little truth to it: the intricately carved stone back is in fact made from a scavenged Muslim tombstone that postdates the saint’s death by many centuries. Still, it seems a fitting tale for such a historic location, given that the island of San Pietro (originally known as Olivolo) was one of the first inhabited in Venice, and the original church here was the seat of a Byzantine bishopric as early as 775.

The elegant campanile of white Istrian stone is older than the current church, having been designed by Codussi in the 15th century.