Sightseeing Tours of Venice Jewish Ghetto

Showing all 4 results

Venice’s Ghetto

Venice - Ghetto - Levantine Synagogue
Venice - Ghetto - Jewish CommunityVenice - Ghetto - German SynagogueVenice -  Ghetto - Ponte de Gheto NovoVenice - Cannaregio - Ponte delle GuglieVenice - Cannaregio - PescariaVenice - Cannaregio - Canal

The Venetian Ghetto was officially created in 1516, it was the first one in Europe. All the Jews of the city were forced to move inside its perimeter, its doors where shut down between sunset and sunrise and watched by guards.

It is believed that the world Ghetto comes from the Venetian Gheto that means literally slag, it was used because in the same island where the Jews were confined there was a foundry where slag was stored.

The Ghetto is part of the Cannareggio sestriere (area) and it is divided in two zones: The Ghetto Nuovo (New Ghetto) and the Ghetto Vecchio (Old Ghetto). Actually the Old and New titles referred to the foundries located there before, while speaking about Jewish houses it was exactly the opposite: the Ghetto Nuovo is older than the Ghetto Vecchio!

Due to Venice history the Jewish community wasn’t very compact. Jewish from all over the world were living in the Serenissima Republic; the main groups were Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese and Levantine Sephardi. There were 5 different synagogues, one for each group and the fifth one was privately built by four rich families. Many languages were spoken, the Hebrew was used for official purposes.

Only at the end of the 18th century when Napoleon’s troops conquered Italy the ghetto and its limitations were suppressed.

The Venice’s Jewish Community is still active and counts on more than 500 members. Although many Jews don’t live anymore in the area they come back for the religious celebrations or to enjoy the different services offered by the community. The synagogues in fact are not limited to the religious ceremonies but they are a fundamental part of the social life of the community. It is possible to take courses like Modern Hebrew, lessons on the sacred texts, or take advantage of facilities like a kindergarten, retirement home, guest house, a kosher restaurant and a bakery.

Read More

Every year the community hosts a Hebrew’s Studies conference internationally well-known.

The Venetian Ghetto is one of the less touristic area of the city. Strolling around its narrow streets is a unique experience. The Ghetto was always overcrowded so the buildings are taller compared to the other sestrieri. Also the synagogues are very particular and not only because they were strongly influenced by the Venetian art. During the renaissance the law forbade to build separate synagogues so in order to obey the Jewish law that doesn’t allow to have any obstructions between them and the heavens they were built on top of other buildings!

Cannaregio – Venice

Venice - Cannaregio - Canal
Venice - Cannaregio - ViewVenice - Cannaregio - Ponte delle GuglieVenice - Cannaregio - Pescaria

Cannaregio is one of the six Venice’s oldest sestriere (areas). Located in the northern side of the city its perimeter is delimited by the Lagoon, the Gran Canal and the Castello and St. Mark sestrieri.

The name Cannaregio probably came from the Cannaregio Canal that means Royal Canal (from the Italian Canal Regio). The district was built during the 11th century and its importance was strictly connected with its Canal, it was the principal route into the city for centuries. The district was mainly inhabited by working class people because the rich Venetian always built their Palaces facing the Gran Canal. At the beginning of the 16th century when the Venetian Jews were forced to live all together in what it will become the first European Ghetto, Cannaregio was the location chose by the government to house it. Part of the area was closed with gates and controlled by guard in order to be sure that no Jews could leave the district between sunset and sunrise. At the end of the 18th century during the Napoleon government the ghetto was abolished and everybody was free to choose where to live. A century later the construction of the Strada Nuova (New Street) started here in Cannaregio. Both a railway and a road bridges were built in order to connect Venice to the mainland.

Cannaregio experienced a vast development during the 15th century so its construction was deeply influenced by the renaissance style. The area is very different from the Medieval Venice and its unique look is testified by the fact that artists like Titian and Tintoretto had chosen to live here.

Read More

Today the Cannaregio Canal is one of the most important in Venice, the only inner one crossed by the public transportation boats. However except for few areas Cannaregio is still very quiet and it is possible to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing walk around its beautiful streets. The area offers also many nice and quiet shops, traditional bakeries and artisanal gelaterie (ice-cream shops).

Also the historic Island of St. Michael’s Cemetery is linked with the Cannaregio sestriere.

Rialto Bridge

Venice - Rialto Bridge - ponte
Venice - Rialto Bridge - detailVenice - Rialto Bridge - viewVenice - Rialto Bridge - view from the water

The Rialto district was one of the first areas of Venice where people settled. It developed quickly and became an important economic center in the city. Banks, shops and vendor stalls congregated here while merchants from all over the world came to trade charcoal, wines, seeds, jewels and many other things. This richness of activity convinced the government of the Republic of Venice to connect the business district to the political district, leading to the inception of the Rialto Bridge.

The very first Rialto Bridge was made of boats moored to each other. This system lasted until the 13th century as it was not very convenient; if the boats needed to move, it was a tedious process to remove the planks that connected one boat to the other. An actual wooden bridge was built but the wood quickly decomposed and the bridge collapsed. Many other wooden bridges were built over time with the same result –or worse, they were destroyed by fire. Unfortunately, at that time the construction of wooden bridges was easier and cheaper than the alternative.

Things to see

It was not until the 16th century that Venetians finally decided to build the bridge out of stone. Many famous architects such as Palladio, Sansovino and Michelangelo offered their designs for a new bridge with several arches. In the end it was the proposal of Antonio Da Ponte, with only one arch, that was chosen in 1588.

For a long time, the Rialto Bridge was the only bridge on the Grand Canal, however now there are four. The Ponte dell’Accademia and the Ponte Degli Scalzi were both built during the 19th century while the last bridge, the Constitution Bridge, is very recent –it was inaugurated in just 2008!

Very often criticized in its day, the Rialto Bridge has survived floods and thousand of tourists and Venetians alike crossing it every day. Today, the Rialto Bridge is one of the emblems of the city; it can be seen on nearly all advertisement for Venice and is often used to illustrate anything related to the city of Venice.


Venice - Rialto Bridge - view
Venice - St Mark Square  -  piazzaVenice - Doges Palace - side viewVenice - Doges Palace  - view from the lagoonVenice - Canal Grande - viewVenice - Rialto Bridge - view from the waterVenice - Bridge of Sighs - viewVenice - Rialto Bridge - ponteVenice - Rialto Bridge - viewGrand Canal at night, Venice

Venice, sometimes referred to as the “Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia”, has always been a fascinating city. In fact, it is considered one of the most fabulous cities in the world, looking like no other with its canals and colored palaces built on the water. Its carnival in February is, of course, something not to be missed: each year the city maintains this traditional carnival that originates from the Middle Ages and during which people compete with the most beautiful of costumes and masks.

The original population came to Venice in the early 5th century in order to escape from the invading barbarians. Many refugees escaped the mainland and increased the preexisting population of fishermen, turning Venice into a thriving trade city. During the decline of the Roman Empire, Venice became the property of Byzantium. The first person to uphold the traditional role of Doge was Paolo Lucio Anafesto, nominated in 697, but he was considered more of a Byzantine official. It was not until 727 that a real Doge, Orso Ipato, was elected. The decline of Venice started during the Renaissance period when the rival city of Genoa became more powerful thanks to the discovery of the North America. In 1797, the territories of Venice were shared between Austria and France then in 1866, Venice joined the Italian Unification, leading it to where it is now.

Things to see

Venice is composed of six different districts: Cannaregio, San Marco, Castello, Santa Croce, Dorsoduro and San Polo. The city is built on more than 100 hundred islets made of mud, with more than 400 bridges to allow people a cross the different canals that run through the city. The three most famous Venetian bridges are: the Accademia Bridge, the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs.

Nowadays, Venice attracts thousands of tourists each year and organizes many events and festivals such as the International Architecture Exhibition between June and September, the Carnival of Venice in February, or the International Venice Film Festival in September. Unfortunately, the fate of this legendary city is in great question: many plans have been made to save it from the rising waters and pollution but its future is still uncertain.