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San Clemente Palace Kempinski

    San Clemente Palace Kempinski
 in VeniceHistory: 
    San Clemente Palace Kempinski
 in Venice


The San Clemente Island was first settled in 1131, when Venetian merchant Pietro Gattilesso funded the construction of a church and a hospice for pilgrims and soldiers destined for the Holy Land. Originally, the church was built in a Romanesque style and consisted of only a single cross-shaped nave. The name is dedicated to Pope Clement I, who died as a martyr and who is the patron of seamen. The complex was run by Augustine canons, while the entire island was under the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Grado Enrico Dandolo. In 1288, the relics of Saint Anianus, the first successors of St. Mark as Patriarch of Alexandria, were brought to the San Clemente church.

After experiencing a slow decline in the course of the 14th century, San Clemente gained fresh life in 1432 when Pope Eugene IV moved the order of Lateran canons to the island. Thanks to donations provided by wealthy Venetian families, the canons began work on the enlargement of the monastery and restoration of the church. The church façade was completely rebuilt in Lombard Renaissance style and divided by lesenes and cornices.

Between the 15th and 16th centuries, San Clemente became known as the “gateway to Venice.” It became standard practice to take the Bucentaur (Bucintoro), the Doge’s ceremonial barge, to the island to meet distinguished visitors. On the return journey to the Grand Canal, the guests were entertained by a variety of spectacles and performances. Writing of Venice in 1493, Marino Sanudo described the Bucentaur as “a marvel, in which the Prince and Senate go to any great lord visiting the city; they go to San Clemente or elsewhere, depending on the direction from which the visitor is coming.”

In 1643, to fulfil a vow made during the plague epidemic that struck the city in 1630, Venetians funded the building of a new chapel, modelled on the Santa Casa di Loreto (Holy House of Loreto), inside the San Clemente church where the main altar was. This “church in a church” is still a main feature of the construction.

Camaldolese Hermits of Monte Corona purchased the island in 1645. The Venetian nobility provided them with financial assistance to restore the church and monastery, and expand the island to add additional houses to the complex. In 1652, the Morosini family sponsored the restoration of the church façade in order to pay tribute to the family’s members Francesco and Tommaso, who died in the Candia war. They entrusted Andrea Cominelli, who perpetuated the family’s coat of arms above the entrance and added reliefs of scenes from battles commemorating the Morosini’s victories in the war against the Turks. He also added statues of Saint Benedict and Saint Romuald, founder of the Camaldolese order.

The fall of the Republic of Venice in 1797 also impacted San Clemente. Also, owing to the suppression of religious orders by Napoleon, in 1810 the Camaldolese monks left the island, which became a military garrison. Since 1873 the island had housed a hospital, closed in 1992.

The buildings on the private island were renovated in 2003 and converted into a luxury hotel. In September 2013 it was announced that a subsidiary of the Permak construction group of Turkey had bought the property. Permak launched further renovations between 2013 and 2014, while retaining the historic character. The property is currently managed by Kempinski Group, which reopened the hotel as San Clemente Palace Kempinski in March 2016. The resort has 190 guestrooms and suites, three restaurants, three bars, an outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court, and a golf pitching course.

San Clemente Palace Kempinski, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2016, dates back to 1131.


International Numbers

Austria 08000706176
Belgium 080081830
France 805542721
Germany 8007241217
Ireland 1800995320
Italy 800979444
Netherlands 08000200956
Norway 80054304
Spain 900814719
Switzerland 0800001798
UK 8009179622
Book by Phone: +1 866 670 3764
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