The church is located in the most commercial place of the city, Rialto, this church is characterized by a splendid sundial and an original Gothic portico.
There is a connection between the church and the Rialto market, this is evidenced by the presence of an inscription in Latin which invites the merchants to operate with honesty and fairness; as well as numerous church altars were built thanks to the economic intervention of the professional guilds of the area.
The first documents in which the Church of San Giacomo is mentioned date back to 1152, but tradition has it that the church is the first building built in the Rialto area, erected the same year as the foundation of Venice, in 421. The Venetian historian and politician Sanudo writes:
“[…] solum restò in piedi la chiesa di San Giacomo di Rialto coperta di piombo qual era in mezzo dil fulgo, e ita Deo volente si preservò. La quale fu la prima chiexia edificata in Venetia dil 421 a dì 25 Marzo, come in le nostre croniche si lese […]”
M. Sanudo, “I diari di Marino Sanudo”
“[…] Only the church of San Giacomo di Rialto was saved from the stake, thanks to the poplar roof and at the behest of God. It was the first church erected in Venice on March 25, 421 as we read in our chronicles […]” M. Sanudo, “I diari di Marino Sanudo”
The Church of San Giacomo di Rialto is the only survivor of the great fire of 1514
Inside there are two small niches on the sides two sides in which two altars are positioned and in the center six marble columns that divide the three naves.
The church has five altars, almost all financed by the guilds that worked in the nearby area:
The main altar was financed in 1600 by the farmhouses
The left altar was financed by the goldsmiths and silversmiths
The right altar was financed by the “Confraternity” by the grain grinders and the packers.
On the apse there is an inscription in Latin:
“Hoc about templum sit jus mercantibus aequum, pondera nec vergant, nec sit conventio prava.”
“Around this temple the law of the merchant must be fair, the burdens must be fair and the contracts stipulated must be fair”. Since the church stood on the most important commercial area of Venice.