Caorle, is a unique and charming seaside town. Its history and foundations date back to the I century and have always revolved around fishing and the busy port activities. It is a Roman town (its name comes from the Latin Caprulae, probably due to the wild goats that used to graze in the woods that originally covered the island), and this fact is confirmed by the numerous archaeological finds and from the sacrificial altar – the “ara Licovia” – which is conserved in the cathedral. The town’s growth is owing to its excellent position, making it a seaport for the nearby Concordia, joined to Caorle by the River Lemene, and to the depopulation of the hinterland during the barbarian invasions.
Given its growth, in the VI century A.D., Caorle became a diocesan centre and one of the 9 districts with a governing authority (the Serenissima government divided the area into districts). In the XIV century A.D., forays by pirates, and raids by the Trieste and Genoese in 1379 caused progressive depopulation of the land. Many reminders remain of that past, the oldest being the Cathedral, built in 1038, and the Bell Tower. The Cathedral is built in the characteristic austere and sober Romanic style, and inside it has some very noteworthy works, including the “Last Supper”, considered to be by the Venetian artist Gregorio Lazzarini, Tiepolo’s master; the “Golden Altarpiece”, which, according to legend, was donated to the town by Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, as a sign of thanks to the local fishermen who saved her during a shipwreck in 1490, and a small gilded wood “Pietà”. The former bishop’s chapel, now the parish museum, contains 6 boards depicting the apostles which date back to the XIV century, attributed to an artist who worked with Paolo Veneziano, and are part of an antique iconostasis placed between the presbytery and the rest of the centre nave. The “Precious Blood Reliquary” which, according to tradition, contains the soil that a bleeding Jesus walked over.
The Reliquary with the skull of St Stephen Protomartyr, the patron saint of Caorle, and many other sacred relics and furnishings. The Romanic Bell Tower was built at the same time as the cathedral and is cylindrical in shape surmounted by a conical cusp. It was originally used as a watchtower, given its 48 meters in height. The bell tower inclines by 1.4° in an east-southeast direction. The Sanctuary of the Angel Madonna, built in the XVII century in the same area where the old church dedicated to St Michael Archangel used to stand. Tradition holds that in ancient times some fishermen, who were casting their nets, found the statue of the Virgin Mary floating in the sea. They took it ashore, near to the Church of the Angel, and hence the statue became known as the “Angel Madonna”. Folklore also narrates that, when they tried to move the statue inside the temple, the efforts of the fishermen and the local people were in vain, so the bishop entrusted some children with the task who, with their innocence, managed to lift up the statue and take it into the church.
The temple vault houses a baroque altar coming from the cathedral, a wooden statue of the Virgin and Child, and a 1500 statue of Archangel Michael, with the scales and sword in his hands, in the act of defeating the devil. Every year the “Living Rocks” competition is held in Caorle, where artists from all over the world compete in carving the rocks along the seafront.