History and curiosities of the Jewish ghetto of Venice, the oldest in Europe – Immobiliare.it News

The Venice Ghetto is the the oldest Jewish quarter in Europefounded in 1516. It is located in the Cannaregio district, on the edge of the Grand Canal and the Rio di Cannaregio.

In the distant past, it was a place of segregation of Jews which later proved crucial to the city's thriving growth. Today it looks like a labyrinth of stories, legends, architecture to rediscover. A microcosm of alleys and canals immersed in the thousand colors of style baroque Venetian.

History of the Venice Ghetto

The Jewish ghetto of Venice was established in 1516 by decree of the Senate of the Serene Republic. Its name derives from the Venetian term “ghetto”, which designated a metal foundry present in this area before the creation of the Jewish quarter.

Its creation was motivated by a wave of anti-Semitism which permeated Europe at that time. Initially, it was a closed neighborhood where Jews were forced to live, separated from the rest of the population. Their living conditions were difficult. However, despite the difficulties, the Jewish community thrived. Jews engaged in trade, finance, and intellectual pursuits, contributing significantly to the city's economy and culture.

The turning point has arrived 1797with the fall of the Republic of VeniceThus, the ghetto was finally opened, Jews were granted citizenship and the right to live and work freely.


READ ALSO: Bologna, discovering the former Jewish ghetto


Curiosities and legends about the Venice Ghetto

The Venice Ghetto is full of charm and mystery. It is said that the famous Casanova he hid in the streets and alleys of the neighborhood to escape the guards. Another legend says that the Ghetto is haunted by the ghost of a young Jewish womandied tragically.

Other famous personalities were fascinated by it, such as the composer Wagner who was inspired by the Venice ghetto for his “Lohengrin“.

Other curiosities: from the pawnbroker to the sardines in saor

The three stood in the Campo del Ghetto Nuovo pawn shop: the Banco Rosso, the Banco Verde and the Banco Nero, names which probably derive from the color of the pawn receipts. The Banco Rosso, still today with its old sign, represents an emblematic symbol of the Venetian Jewish community. Venetian pawnbrokers have the distinction of being the oldest in the world. Right here, the expressions “be in red” And “to be broke» to indicate lack of money.

But the Venice we know today also owes a lot to kosher Jewish cuisine, which represents a complex system of dietary rules and has given rise to a unique menu in the world, the result of the fusion between the lagoon gastronomic tradition and the Jewish tradition. Surprisingly, one of the most emblematic dishes of Venetian cuisineTHE sardines in saorfinds its roots precisely in the kosher tradition.

What to see in the Venice Ghetto

Today, the neighborhood is a labyrinth of history, as well as a symbol of the Jewish people's resilience in the face of marginalization. The Venice Ghetto is an important destination for tourists and pilgrims.

There are five synagogues (also called Scholae), each with its own history and architectural style and other places that can be visited, such as:

  • There Spanish Synagogue: the oldest, dating from 1580;
  • There German Synagogue;
  • There Italian synagogue;
  • There Canton Synagogue;
  • There Great Synagogue: the most recent, inaugurated in 1670;
  • THE Jewish Museum.

Synagogues are jewels of architecture and spirituality, with styles ranging from Renaissance to Baroque. While the Museum is a real treasure trove of memories. Its collection includes silverware, fabrics, scrolls and other art and cult objects that tell the history and traditions of the Venetian Jewish community.

In addition to being a place of memory, the Venice Ghetto is a lively and welcoming neighborhood. Walking through its streets, you will be able to meet them artisan workshops where ancient crafts are passed down, kosher restaurants offering Jewish cuisine specialties and shops selling typical objects. A lively and authentic atmosphere which invites you to get lost in its alleys and let yourself be conquered by the charm of this unique place in the world.

The Ghetto is open every day, entry is free, but you must purchase a ticket to visit the synagogues and the Jewish Museum.

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