Palazzi along the Grand Canal Venice
The chronological order below is unfortunately not the route that we are taking. For the itinerary please read the bold numbers in brackets. We first pass number 1, etc. The typical 13th century Veneto-Byzantine style can for instance be seen in the Ca’ da Mosto (more specifically the ground floor) one of the oldest palazzi on the canal. The same applies to the 13th century Fondaco dei Turchi which will soon appear on our starboard side.
The early palaces like Fondaco dei Turchi, Ca’Loredan, and Ca’ Farsetti, were characterized by a two-storey arcade that faced the waterfront. The ground floor was designed as a portico for loading and unloading merchandise, which led to a large hall called the androne. The androne was used for displaying armor and for conducting business negotiations, with storerooms and offices on either side, and a kitchen at the back. The living quarters were located upstairs, with rooms branching off from a large central room known as the salone or portego, which was located over the androne. The palace also featured a courtyard at the back with a well and an open staircase. It is possible that there were low towers at each end of the façade, but they would not have had any defensive purpose (See Deborah Howard ‘The Architectural History of Venice’ B.T. Ltd, London 1980 p. 40).
A common architectural feature is known as “stylistic layering” or “stylistic stratification.” It occurs when a building or structure is added to over time. Each addition being done in a different architectural style. The Ca’da Mosto and the Palazzo Priuli-Bon at San Stae are examples of this phenomenon. The ground and first floor of the Palazzo Farsetti are built in the 13th century in the Venetian-Byzantine style. In 1440 two floors were added in the Renaissance style. (Wikipedia)
As Goethe put it:
“[…] houses sought the sky, being forced, like trees enclosed in a narrow compass, to seek in height what they were denied in breadth. Being niggards of every inch of ground, as having been from the very first compressed into a narrow compass, they allowed no more room for the streets than was just necessary to separate a row of houses from the one opposite, and to afford the citizens a narrow passage.” Goethe Italienische Reise 1786 – 1788
One of the most impressive houses was named for the gold that used to cover it. This house from 1420 is a good example of Gothic architecture in Venice. Today, the Ca’d’Oro is home to a small but beautiful museum.
The palace Corner-Spinelli, built by the architect Mauro Codussi (Wikipedia), is a typical example of an early Venetian Renaissance building. It was built between the late 15th century and the early 16th century and combines elements of both late Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. The traditional division into three parts and three floors is a characteristic of the late Gothic style, while the use of flat rustication work for the base is a feature of the Renaissance vocabulary of Florence. The architecture of the palace Corner-Spinelli reflects the blending of different architectural styles that was common during the Renaissance period.
The Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, built around 1500 by the architects Codussi and Lombardo, is typical of the Venetian Renaissance. The central section has three times three windows and of course steps for the boats to tie up to, while the wall planes feature ‘linked’ columns as if they were corner risalits. The Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, also known as the Palazzo Non Nobis, is named for the inscription “Non nobis Domine” (Not us Lord) and “Non Nobis” on the facade, which is the motto of the Knights Templar, a religious military order. The palace is known for its facade adorned with multicolored marble. Inside, the palace featured a frescoed entrance hallway by Giorgione, a painting by Raphael, and, beginning in 1530, Giorgione’s famous painting “The Tempest” which is now housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia. Unfortunately, the frescoes by Giorgione on the entrance hallway are lost.
The Ca’Pesaro from 1682 and the Ca’Rezzonico from 1660 are good examples of Baroque architecture. The architect for both palazzi was Baldassare Longhena. The Ca’Rezzonico is a palazzo that was converted to a museum and today provides us with a realistic image of how the wealthy elite of the 17th century Serenissima lived.
The Classicist Palazzo Grassi was built by Giorgio Massari in the 18th century.
The Neo-Gothic Ca’Genovese, built in 1892, is located close to Santa Maria della Salute.
The diminutive Gothic palace, built around 1450, is said to be popularly known as “Desdemona’s house” in reference to the character from Shakespeare’s play “Othello.” However, traditionally the palace of Othello has been identified as the Palazzo Guoro in Campo dei Carmini. This confusion may have arisen due to similarities in the surnames Guoro and Moro. There is a theory that Othello was based on the patrician Cristoforo Moro, lieutenant governor of Cyprus, who married the daughter of Donato da Lezze, who was known as the “White Devil” (Dimonio Bianco). The name Desdemona was derived from this nickname by Giambattista Giraldi Cinthio in his novel Gli Hecatommithi (1565), which was the source of Shakespeare’s tragedy written in 1602. More about Desdemona and Shakespeare’s Othello Wikipedia
Map Canal Grande Palazzi:
1. Fondaco dei Turchi, 13th century, today a museum of natural history.
2. Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi, Renaissance Mauro Codussi and Pietro Lombardo 1481.
3. Ca’Pesaro Baroque, Baldassare Longhena 1682, Modern art museum.
4. Ca’ D’Oro, Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon for the Contarini family.*
5. Ca’da Mosto one of Venice’s oldest palazzo.*
6. Fondaco dei Tedeschi, 1228, Warehouse German merchants until the 15th century.*
7. Palazzo Dolfin-Manin, Jacopo Sansovino in the first half of the 16th century.
8. Palazzi Loredan Farsetti. Lower two floors 13th century. Today Venice town hall.
9. Palazzo Grimani di San Luca, Michele Sanmicheli 1540 Renaissance architecture.
10. Palazzo Papadopoli by Renaissance sculptor Alessandro Vittoria.
11. Palazzo Barbarigo della Terrazza by Renaissance architect Scamozzi.*
12. Palazzo Corner-Spinelli this Renaissance palazzo attributed to Mauro Codussi.
13. Palazzo Contarini delle figure. Renaissance palazzo home of Jacopo Contarini
14. Ca’Foscari, 15th century and commissioned by Doge Foscari. Late Gothic
15. Ca’Rezzonico, Baroque Baldassare Longhena in 1660 (Massari completed 1750).*
16. The Classicist Palazzo Grassi by Giorgio Massari 18th century. Today a museum.
17. Palazzo Corner della Ca’Grande, Masterpiece of Renaissance architect Sansovino.
18. Palazzo Dario Giovanni Dario 1485; famous for its asymmetrical sectional facade.
19. Palazzo Contarini-Fasan, small late Gothic facade from 1475.*
4* Examples of Venetian Gothic. Today home to a museum: the Galleria Franchetti.
5* Lower two floors clearly show the Byzantine influence on Venetian architecture.
6* Facade with allegorical frescos by Giorgione and Titian, rebuilt by Rem Koolhaas.
11* Famous collection of paintings.
15* Famous artists such as Tiepolo and Guardi decorated interior.
19* It was believed to be the setting for the tragedy of Othello and Desdemona.
The following characteristics are typical of Venetian palazzi:
1. Because of the weak subsoil thin walls and many ‘holes’ in the wall space.
2. Façade nearly always facing the canal, only rarely a campo.
3. Wall passages usually grouped together and often asymmetrical.
4. Abundant decorations around windows, doors, etc.
5. Often colourful stucco or brick mosaics, coverings oriental types of stone, marble.
6. Contrary to what is often being said, flat roofs are rare.
7. Ground floor often used as warehouse, first floor the ‘stately’ living quarters.
8. Sectional facade of ground floor or first floor often continued in the floors above.
9. The first floor is just as deep as the house.
10. Click here for various kinds of floor plans and cross sections of Venetian palazzi.
11. Often no inner courtyard. When this is the case, for example in the Ca’d’Oro, it includes a well and free standing stairs.
End of Venice day 1
Continuation Venice day 2: Galleria dell’Accademia I