Ghetto di Venezia – Venice Ghetto

Inside Cannaregio – Venice Ghetto

The Venice Senate established the first Ghetto of Europe in the first half of the 1500’s, in order to confine the Jewish community in an area of the Cannaregio Sestiere.

The physical separation, and specific laws governed the interaction between Jews and the rest of Venetian population (Catholic).

The identity of Venice’s Ghetto reflects the values and traditions of the communities that lived here during its history:

  • The Ponentina Nation, of Iberian origin, principally living in the area of Ghetto Vecchio
  • The Levantina Nation, of Ottoman origin, principally living in the area of Ghetto Novissimo
  • The Tedesca Nation, mainly composed of German and Italian Jews living in the area of Ghetto Nuovo

The heart of Venice’s Ghetto is the main square of Campo del Ghetto, overlooked by some of the highest buildings in Venice; overcrowding meant that it was usual for a building to reach 8 stories, and sometime the height of a single apartment was less than 2 meters!

The 5 synagogues placed in the area of Venice Ghetto, show the different traditions of the communities that populated it, and today it’s considered the most beautiful synagogal complex in the world.

Under Venetian laws, temples could not be discernible from the outside; this is why the designers focused their work on the interior decoration: the German School, Canton School, Levantina School, Italian School and the Spanish, use real jewels.

2 of the 5 schools overlook Campo del Ghetto. Are you able to work out which are their windows?