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Thursday, 04 January 2018 13:34

An hidden gem: San Simeon Piccolo church

San Simeone Piccolo is a church in the sestiere of Santa Croce in Venice, northern Italy. From across the Grand Canal it faces the railroad terminal serving as entrypoint for most visitors to the city. Built in 1718-38 by Giovanni Antonio Scalfarotto, the church shows the emerging eclecticism of Neoclassical architecture. It accumulates academic architectural quotations, much like the contemporaneous Karlskirche in Vienna. Wittkower, in his monograph, acknowledges San Simeone is modeled on the Pantheon with a temple-front pronaos, on the other hand, the peaked dome recalls Longhena's more embellished and prominent Santa Maria della Salute church. The centralized circular church design and the metal dome recalls Byzantine models and San Marco, though the numerous centrifugal chapels are characteristic of Post-Tridentine churches.  San Simeon Piccolo (technically named SS. Simeone e Giuda) is actually rather unimportant as far as Venice churches go, but it is most people's first view of Venice—and, if you've a long wait for your train, the thing you end up staring at longest—so it begs to be identified. Itwas one of the last churches built in Venice, in one of its poorer sestieri; closed for what seems like decades (most of us, actually, had long assumed it to be deconsecrated and boarded up permanently), it has recently had some restoration work done on the striking green (oxidized) copper dome and has reopened to the public.  Nowadays you can visit the stunning crypta.
It now holds the quirky status of being the only church in Venice to celebrate Mass in Latin, too.


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