About San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
San Giorgio degli Schiavoni was a school in Venice opened in 1451 by the wealthy Dalmatian Schiavoni community. San Giorgio degli Schiavoni now displays important pieces of Venetian art, as painted by the Dalmatian Vittore Carpaccio from 1502 to 1509. Beautiful and evocative, the former school is a popular tourist attraction and a significant building in Venetian history.
San Giorgio degli Schiavoni history
From the middle ages, the Venetian Republic had intense commercial relations and competition with Dalmatia across the Mediterranean. These relations become stronger when Venice conquered the Dalmatian region in the early 15th century. Afterwards, Dalmatian residents of Venice were known as ‘Schiavoni’ meaning Slav, who formed a brotherhood approved by the ruling Council of Ten or Consiglio dei Dieci in 1451.
Predominantly sailors and workers, the Schiavoni met near the church of San Giovanni di Malta, although their patron saints were St George, Jerome and Tryphon. These patrons extended to St Matthew when the group gained a relic of his in 1502 – a gift that made the school famous in the city.
Intending to build a social and cultural community of their own within Venice, the group bought the former hospital of St Catherine, restoring it as a school designed by Giovanni De Zan with a facade inspired by Italian Renaissance artists.
Between 1502 and 1507 the painter Vittore Carpaccio was commissioned to design 7 panels depicting the Stories of the Patron Saints of the Scuola. External reliefs were added throughout the 16th century, including St George Killing the Dragon.
When Napoleon marched into Venice at the beginning of the 18th century, the school (unlike may other historic buildings that were repurposed for the Napoleonic military) was preserved by the emperor’s son, Napoleon Eugenio.
San Giorgio degli Schiavoni today
Thanks to Napoleon Eugenio, the San Giorgio degli Schiavoni remains today in fantastic condition. Functioning today as an art gallery, you can tour the golden-gilt interior lined with the works of Vittore Carpaccio and Jacopo Palma the Younger most afternoons and all-day on Saturdays.
A 10 minute walk from the waterfront, also historically known as the Schiavoni in reference to the large number of Dalmatian sailor-merchants, the building is a must-see for those wanting a full appreciation of Venice’s long and multicultural history.
Getting to San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
On foot, the San Giorgio degli Schiavoni is easily found within the Castello district close to the Venetian Arsenal. The closest ferry terminal is San Zaccaria Pietà which serves ferries 4 and 5, and is a 5 minute walk away.