An Opulent Palazzo on the Grand Canal:
One of the most eye-catching palazzi you’ll see on the Grand Canal is Palazzo Barbarigo. Its front facade is decorated with colourful mosaics of Murano glass.
Palazzo Barbarigo was originally built in the 16th century. Its architecture follows the Renaissance style and consists of three levels: an open loggia which gives access to the canal, a first floor with open loggias, decorated columns and a second floor above this. The modern mosaics, which were added later on, probably covered some of the original windows and obscured the original design.
Not much information is available on the early history of Palazzo Barbarigo except that the Murano mosaics were added in 1886. When Palazzo Barbarigo became the headquarters of Pauly & C. – Compagnia Venezia Murano, a leading Venetian company that produced glass art, the company employed master glass workers to decorate the facade of the Renaissance palazzo with complex mosaic designs. They took the idea from the exterior mosaics on the facade of St Mark’s Basilica.
When the mosaic front was completed, it did not impress Palazzo Barbarigo’s more aristocratic neighbours at all. The then new owners were accused of being the nouveau riche with garish taste that was out of keeping with the genteel decay of the neighbouring buildings. This was an unfair criticism as many of the Renaissance palazzi on the Grand Canal were once also covered in polychrome and gilt decorations, with elaborate plaster and stucco work which added to their splendour.
Today Barbarigo Palazzo stands as one of the more opulent palazzi on the canal.