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San Clemente

'The Gateway to Venice,' now site of a luxury hotel

The chapel of San Clemente

One of several islands located between San Marco and the Lido, San Clemente was first inhabited in 1131, when a church dedicated to Pope San Clemente and a pilgrims' hospice were built. It soon became the chief staging point for Crusaders and pilgrims sailing to the Holy Land (the Venetians weren't keen on having all these generally impoverished foreigners hanging around the city anyway). In 1288, the relics of St Mark's follower, St Anianus of Alexandria, were brought to the island.

But it also became a stage for first class arrivals in Venice. Aristocratic and other important visitors would disembark at San Clemente, and wait to be greeted by the Doge aboard his ceremonial Bucintoro, then escorted in state up the Grand Canal. In 1432, Pope Eugene IV moved the order of Lateran canons, or Carità, to San Clemente, and the monastery was enlarged. A quarantine hospital was built in the 1570s for victims of plague.

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Lagoon and islands

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Sailko, Creative Commons License