The origin and history of the Church of San Salvador dates back to the 7th Century and it has a legendary origin. It is said that Jesus appeared in a dream to the Bishop S. Magnus and asked him to build a Church, showing him where it was to be constructed. The place was in the very heart of the future city of Venice, which didn't exist at that time. It was to dedicate it to Him, the Saviour of the World. In the 12th Century a convent of Canonicals arose next to the Romanesque Church, which was to know successive partial reconstructions.
In 1506 Antonio Contarini, Prior of the convent, decided to restructure and extend alterations to the Church, the Convent and the nearby residential buildings. Initially the design followed Giorgio Spavento's project, and the construction work was directed by Tullio and Pietro Lombardo; later Jacopo Sansovino also superintended its completion. Some inscriptions give us useful information regarding the reconstruction: the apse was finished in 1520, the choir in 1530; the entrance portal on the Mercerie side in 1532; the high altar with the Saviour's statue was completed in 1534.The façade was finished much later, in 1663, on a project by Giuseppe Sardi.
The bell-tower was started in the 14th Century, but finished only at the end of the 19th Century.