What to See in Venice: Interesting Sights in Castello Sestiere:
Castello is the largest of the Venice sestieri and as one of the earliest parts of Venice to be settled, it holds plenty of history. Its western border backs onto San Marco and Cannaregio and the district stretches all the way to Sant’Elena in the extreme east.
Castello is a district with two faces. The western half adjoining San Marco is a more affluent and along the Riva degli Schiavoni you’ll find the luxurious Hotel Danieli. The eastern part of the island includes the Arsenale, which was the centre of naval shipbuilding during the time of the Venetian maritime empire.
Below are some interesting places to see in Castello. The churches of Castello are listed on the next page.
Riva degli Schiavoni
Most visitors to Venice would have strolled along this quayside promenade with its famous literary associations. John Ruskin, Henry James and Petrarch all stayed in accommodation along the Riva degli Schiavoni. The Ponte della Paglia is a popular spot from which to view another Castello bridge – the famous Bridge of Sighs.
Campo Santa Maria Formosa
This large and centrally located square is just north of Piazza San Marco. Campo Santa Maria Formosa is a typical Venetian square and is surrounded by a range of grand as well as homely palazzi. The Chiesa Santa Maria Formosa stands on the southern side of the square and there is a also small market, a couple of bars and restaurants here. Whilst constantly busy with both Venetians and tourists, the square however loses out in appeal to the more famous Piazza San Marco, Campo San Polo or Campo Santa Margherita.
Palace Querini Stampalia
Palazo Querini Stampalia is the home of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia. This Renaissance style palace in Campo Santa Maria Formosa was the home of the Venetian Querini family who were well known for their love of art. In 1868, Count Giovanni, the last member of the dynasty, bequeathed the palace, its ancient furnishings and the family’s entire art collection to the Foundation. The Library is open to the public and contains around 340,000 volumes which are available for public use.
Antico Arsenale (Old Arsenal)
During its heyday, the Arsenale was heart of the city’s maritime power. The Arsenale was home to a highly equipped naval base and the industrial hub of Castello. It was from here that the Venetian warships were built. At the height of the Venetian maritime power, some 16,000 were employed in this giant shipyard where Venice’s war galleons were built. Today it can be recognized by its terracotta walls and square towers.
Campo della Tana
This square has links to the days when Venice was an imperial naval power. The Venetians imported the hemp needed to make ropes for their ships. The hemp came from the Russian city of Tanai, from which the name ‘Tana’ is taken. From Campo della Tana, on the embankment of the River Tanai, there was an entrance to the extensive premises belonging to the Arsenale, in which rope was made.
Museo Storico Navale
Interestingly, this museum that traces the naval history of the Venetian Republic was not conceived of by the Venetians or Italians, but by Austrians in 1815. The museum is in Campo San Biagio in Arsenale and documents Venetian and Italian naval history up to the present day.