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Let’s find out more about Sant’Elena island in Venice with “Detourism: La newsletter di Venezia”! Enjoy your reading!

Sant’Elena island in Venice: discovering ancient relics, newly found vineyards and early twentieth century architecture

Sant’Elena is probably one of the lesser-known Venice neighborhoods: a quiet, secluded area just off the main routes, where you can experience great art, nature and spirituality. It is part of the Castello district, at the easternmost end of the city, and can be reached by walking along one of the three bridges that cross the Rio dei Giardini or by vaporetto.

The island’s origins, history and legends

The island is named after the Church of Sant’Elena Imperatrice, where the relics of Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, have been venerated for more than 800 years. According to tradition, in 1211 the Venetians, after the Fourth Crusade, translated  the body of the saint from Constantinople to Venice. There is a curious legend told about the arrival of Saint Helena’s relics in the lagoon.

On the façade of the church you can admire the beautiful fifteenth-century Renaissance-style portal that represents Vettore Cappello, Capitano da Mar, kneeling in front of Saint Helena.

The ancient vineyards annexed to the convent and church of Sant’Elena have recently been recovered by the local association Laguna nel bicchiere, which produces an excellent red wine here.

The twentieth-century district

In the nineteenth century,  the  salt marshes – wetlands flooded during high tides – that once surrounded the original islet were filled in to make way for a modern residential area.

What is now known as the Sant’Elena district was built during the 1920s: the area is occupied by houses, gardens and parks, alleys and avenues mostly dedicated to places and characters of the World War I. Here is also the Venice stadium, the second oldest stadium in Italy, built in 1913. You can retrace the history of the urbanization of this Venice area in pictures by browsing the digitized photos of the albumdivenezia site.

A walk in the pinewood, overlooking the lagoon

Sant’Elena is also one of the greenest areas of Venice, with its large and airy pinewood – also known as Parco delle Rimembranze – which rises in front of the lagoon in continuity with the Castello public gardens. It is the ideal place for peaceful walks, where you can get stunning views of the San Marco Basin and the Lido.

Castello district walking tour

[source: La newsletter di Venezia, N° 19/2021 del 16.09.2021]
[picture: Didier Descouens / Wikimedia Commons]

We are proud to publish some selected contents of such newsletter (see previous post: “Detourism for the Up and Down the Bridges“). On our website, in several episodes, we will only present some samples (see all posts in our archive page “Detourism Newsletter“), but the invitation addressed to all the friends of the Up and Down the Bridges is to subscribe to the newsletter directly.
Special thanks to the Councillor for Tourism for having enthusiastically welcomed this new important collaboration between TGS Eurogroup and the Tourism Office of the Town of Venice and for giving us the precious opportunity to publish on the pages of this blog some extracts from this newsletter, both in Italian and in English.

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