What to See in Venice: Cannaregio Palaces and Other Buildings
Cannaregio, the northern-most sestieri of Venice was once the cradle of artists, explorers and composers. Marco Polo, Tintoretto and Titian all had their homes in Cannaregio as did Wagner.
There are many churches in Cannaregio, many of which have been blessed by the works of Tintoretto and Tiepolo and the rich merchants of Venice left behind a legacy of beautiful palazzi lining the main canals.
Here are some of the magnificent palaces, interesting squares and streets to explore in Cannaregio. The churches of Cannaregio are listed in the next page.
Ca’ d’Oro (Golden House) is considered to be one of the most striking examples of Venetian Gothic. The palace is so called because its façade with polychrome marble moulding was once overlaid with gold. When Marino Contarini built the palace in 1441, he used the best stonemasons of the time. The palace at one point became the property of Baron Giorgio Franchetti who bequeathed it to the State in 1916 and is now a museum, with works by Mantegna, paintings of Tuscan school and a beautiful collection of Renaissance bronzes.
Palazzo Mastelli is located in a very picturesque area near Campo dei Mori. It is also known as Palazzo del Cammello because of the stone bas-relief of a man and a camel on the façade overlooking the canal. The thirteenth century statues at the corners of the building commemorate the Mastelli brothers, three Arab merchant brothers who known to be unscrupulous and disliked. There are a number of legends associated with the palace and its owners.
The Baroque Palazzo Labia was built by a family of wealthy Catalonian merchants at the end of the 17th century. Their palace on the Cannaregio Canal is decorated with frescoes by Tiepolo. Over the years the palazzo has been owned by several owners, the latest being the Italian State Television RAI, who put the palazzo on the market in 2008.
Palazzo Vendramin Calergi
This three-story high palazzo is a fine example of Renaissance architecture. Palazzo Vendramin Calergi is known by a few different names and was the home of many prominent people. The palazzo later came into the possession of the Calergi family and it acquired its double-barrel name when through marriage the palace went into the possession of the Vendramin family. Currently this palazzo is home to the Casinò di Venezia. Wagner died here in 1883 and the palazzo now houses the Wagner Museum.
Oratorio dei Crociferi
This hospital was originally founded by the Crucifer brothers in the mid-12th century to give shelter to pilgrims and crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. It is a treasure trove of works by Palma il Giovane depicting the history of the religious order of the Crociferi, which was founded in the 13th century and suppressed in the 17th century.
Famous Districts, Squares and Streets
Ghetto – The Venetian Ghetto is rich with Jewish heritage. This was the part of the city where the Jews were confined to living around 1516. They built their ‘schole’ or synagogues here. The first one was the Schola Tedesca (German Synagogue), built in 1528, followed by the Schola Canton and the Schola Italiana. The Schola Spagnola was rebuilt by Baldassarre Longhena. The German synagogue houses the museum of Jewish art and contains many fine religious exhibits. The term ‘ghetto’ derives from the Venetian word ‘ghèto’ (slag) and is a reference to foundries that were found in the area in which the metal was ‘gettato’ or smelted.
Campiello dei Miracoli – Popular legend has it that in 1400 an extraordinary event occurred: a sacred image of the Madonna was seen weeping in a capital. The donations of the Venetians then enabled the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli to be built.
Ponte and Fondamenta dei Mori - the famous ‘Mori’ (‘Moors’) were rich merchants who fled from Morea.
Calle del Duca – The last Duke of Mantua and Monferrato, Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga, fled to Venice after being accused of embezzlement.
Sotoportego and Corte del Milion – Marco Polo’s house probably stood here. The name ‘Milion’ comes from the title of his book.