Burial place of 25 Venetian doges and one of the largest churches in Italy, the Italian Gothic–style Basilica of Saints John and Paul (Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo) is among the most important churches in the city. Known as San Zanipolo to locals, it is home to works by Bellini, Veronese, and two generations of Lombardo sculptors.
The Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo is a highlight of Venice’s Castello district, the largest of the city’s six central districts (sestieri). Built in the 14th century, the basilica is the most important Dominican church in the city. It was the setting for every Venetian doge’s funeral from the 15th century on and is decorated with a number of works by important Italian and Venetian artists.
Visit the basilica as part of a Venice highlights walking tour that includes other district attractions such as the Basilica di San Pietro di Castello, the Arsenale and Naval Museum (Museo Storico Navale), and the Biennale Gardens (Giardini della Biennale). Many small-group and private Venice tours also include a gondola ride and skip-the-line entrance to St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica San Marco) and the Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale).
Things to Know Before You Go
- Venice tours that include a stop at the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo require a significant amount of time on your feet, so wear comfortable shoes.
- Modest clothing covering shoulders and knees is required to enter the basilica.
- There is a single low step at the basilica entrance, which may be a barrier for some wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo is located in the Castello district, a short walk from the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) or St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco).
When to Get There
The best times of year to visit Venice’s highlights are early spring and late fall, when the high season summer crowds have left and the city is less crowded. The Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo is open daily all year round.
Highlights of the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo
In addition to important works of art by notable painters and sculptors, the basilica is home to dozens of tombs, including those of Bellini (a number of whose paintings decorate the basilica), 25 Venetian doges, and the third Baron of Windsor, who died in Venice in 1574. The church is a minor basilica because it holds a relic of St. Catherine of Siena (one of her feet), still on display.