Chiesa di San Giorgio dei Greci

Church in Castello

Greek Orthodox refugees who fled to Venice from Turkey with the rise of the Ottoman Empire built a church here in the 16th century, with the aid of a special dispensation to collect taxes on incoming Greek ships. The separate, slender bell tower was completed in 1603, though it began to lean right from the start. These days, it seems poised to dive into the canal at any moment.

Permission for a Greek confraternity was granted in the late 15th century in acknowledgment of the growing importance of the community in the city, which at its peak numbered around 4000. Greek scholars contributed greatly to Venice’s dominance in the printing trade, and thereby to its eminence as a seat of Renaissance learning.

While the exterior is classically Venetian, the interior is Orthodox in style: the aisleless nave is surrounded by dark, wooden stalls and there’s a matroneo (women’s gallery). All eyes, however, are drawn to the golden iconostasis with its 46 icons, the majority of which are the work of 16th-century Cretan artist Michael Danaskinàs. More fascinating icons can be found in the neighbouring Museo delle Icone.