Visiting Mazzorbo's Only Church, Chiesa Di Santa Caterina

Fondamenta di Santa Caterina, 54, 30142 Venezia VE, Italy
St. Catherine's Church

Burano, the island in the Venetian lagoon famous for lace-making and rainbow houses, is a popular tourist destination. A small percentage of travelers, usually by chance, visit Mazzorbo, a nearby small island that exudes absolute serenity and tranquillity, with the only sacral building, St. Catherine's.

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I was one of the few tourists who accidentally stumbled upon Mazzorbo while wandering Burano's streets and, with great curiosity, explored the island. Although Mazzorbo is not as beautiful as Burano, it has several attractions worth visiting, one of which is St. Catherine's Church, an old Romanesque-Gothic-style building.

Mazzorbo originally had ten religious structures. The sole one still standing is devoted to Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The church lacks a façade because an atrium, once a part of the abbey, covers it. An attractive landmark on the island is the church's bell tower, dating from the fourteenth century, which has white mullioned windows and a weather vane with the initials SC on top.

St. Catherine's Church in Photos

Mazzorbo chiesa
The church's interior

Mazzorbo church
On the floor, the Latin inscription "Died on November 14, 1602"

"Madonna Enthroned with Child" pluteus fragment

Chiesa di Santa Caterina
The church's interior details

Mazzorbo chiesa
Relief "Madonna with Child"

History of St. Catherine's Church

Constructed in its current form in the fourteenth century on the site of an earlier church, from its beginnings, Santa Caterina was a monastery church attached to a Benedictine convent where pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land also stopped. During the Napoleonic era, Santa Caterina became Mazzorbo's only parish church after the convent was closed and demolished.


The bell tower attached to the church has no known origin but is thought to date from the fourteenth century based on its architectural features. The structure still has three bells that ring to the beat of the day's rhythms, calling the faithful to worship. The oldest bell, cast in 1318, is possibly the oldest in the Venice Lagoon.

A sixteenth-century wooden portal, surmounted by an Istrian marble bas-relief, leads into the church's atrium. In the atrium, there are various ancient marble works. The single-nave church's liturgical hall features a square apse, four side altars, a sixteenth-century high altar, a baptismal font, and a unique ceiling resembling the hull of a 15th-century ship.

The church also keeps several paintings. The large altarpiece depicting Jesus' Baptism by the Italian Mannerist painter Giuseppe Porta is one of the most important.

How to Get to St. Catherine's Church

The Church of St. Catherine stands in the southern part of the island of Mazzorbo, in Venice's northern lagoon. The island is easily accessible from Burano via the Ponte Longo, a wooden bridge.

Island Hopping Tour: Mazzorbo, Burano, and Murano

Book the Island Hopping Tour to escape the crowds of Venice and visit the Venetian lagoon's three fascinating islands, Burano, Murano, and Mazzorbo, all in one day.

Where to Stay in Venice

Thinking of visiting Venice but unsure where to stay? For my trips, I use, a well-designed website that helps me find everything from small B&Bs to large hotel chains, vacation rentals, and homestays.

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Have any questions about visiting Mazzorbo? Planning a trip to Venice? What about other suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment below.


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